Eating disorder sufferers generally suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. They use food as a coping mechanism to deal with difficult or painful emotions. Controlling food can help them feel more in control when everything else feels overwhelming or out of control.
A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.
Contrary to what most people believe, eating disorders aren’t about food. They are often a symptom of underlying issues.
To the outside world the eating disorder seems destructive and dangerous, but to the sufferer, the eating disorder is their friend.
The eating disorder provides a function for the individual. It makes them feel safe, gives them a sense of power and achievement, and it is always there for them no matter what. It is their lifejacket in a stormy sea.
It is often difficult for people to understand eating disorders, with parents and carers often wondering why the individual doesn’t just stop doing what they’re doing and eat.
But eating disorders are not a choice. They are mental health disorders, which the sufferer needs specialised treatment to recover from.
In order to reduce their weight, sufferers restrict the amount of food they take in by skipping meals and cutting down on amounts of food they eat, essentially starving themselves, which leads to severe weight loss.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by the binge/purge cycle.
Binge eating disorder is characterized by compulsive overeating. The binges are similar to those experienced by bulimics, however unlike people with bulimia, people with binge eating disorder do not engage in any compensatory behaviours to prevent weight gain.
The individual presents with feeding or eating behaviours, but do not meet the full criteria for any of the other feeding and eating disorders.
The individual presents with feeding or eating behaviours that cause clinically significant distress/impairment of functioning, but do not meet the full criteria of any of the Feeding or Eating Disorder criteria.