What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is a mental health condition characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food; where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations. There are several types of eating they, include:
Anorexia nervosa: This is an eating disorder characterized by a distorted body image and an intense fear of gaining weight. People with anorexia nervosa may severely restrict their food intake, engage in excessive exercise, and may have a distorted perception of their body shape and size.
Bulimia nervosa: This is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating, followed by purging through self-induced vomiting, fasting, or excessive exercise. Therefore, making people with this type of eating disorder may also engage in restrictive eating between binges.
Binge-eating disorder: This is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, without purging. Also, people dealing with this disorder may feel a lack of control during binges and may experience guilt or shame afterward.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): This is an eating disorder characterized by a persistent lack of interest in food or avoidance of certain foods, resulting in inadequate nutrient intake and significant weight loss or failure to gain weight.
Other Specified Feeding or eating disorder (OSFED): This is a catch-all category that includes eating disorders that don’t meet the full criteria for anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder. Examples of OSFED include atypical anorexia, purging disorder, and night eating syndrome.
It’s worth noting that eating disorders can occur in people of any gender, age, ethnicity, or body shape/size, and can have serious physical and mental health consequences if left untreated.
Symptoms of an eating disorder can include:
- Obsessively counting calories or weighing food
- Restricting food intake
- Binge eating
- Purging/vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics
- Feeling guilty or ashamed after eating
- Excessive exercise
- Distorted body image
- Withdrawing from social activities
Causes of eating disorders
You are likely to get an eating disorder if you:
- you’ve been criticized for eating habits, body shape or weight.
- have been sexually abused.
- you have low self-esteem or have an obsessive personality.
- feel pressured by society or your job to maintain particular body standard.
- have had a history with drug misuse or depression.
Recovery can be a long and challenging process, but it’s also a journey to healthier relationship with food and your body.
It’s important to seek professional help if you haven’t already. A mental health professional who specializes in eating disorders can provide you with the support and guidance you need to overcome this challenging condition. They can also help you develop a treatment plan that may include therapy, medication, and/or nutritional counseling.
In addition to professional help, there are also some things you can do to support your recovery on your own. These might include practicing self-care, prioritizing your mental and emotional well-being. It can also be helpful to connect with others who have experienced eating disorders and to join a support group or community.
Recovery is a process, and it’s okay to take things one day at a time. Celebrate small victories and be kind and patient with yourself as you work towards healing.