Eating disorders are a range of Psychological conditions where you develop an abnormal attitude towards your food. They affect you psychologically and physically, causing you to change your eating habits and behaviour. If you have an eating disorder you are likely to be focused on your weight, shape and/or what you eat. This typically leads you to make unhealthy choices which can have devastating and life threatening consequences.
On this page I will talk about the most common eating disorders, including:
- binge eating disorder.
As well as looking at the signs and symptoms, I will explain how hypnotherapy can provide support to you if you have or are receiving treatment for an eating disorder.
What is an eating disorder?
Eating is something everybody has to do to remain alive, but for some the relationship with food becomes complicated. Some people may develop strange and unusual eating habits or become emotionally dependant on food, for example. This is commonly referred to as ‘disordered eating’.
While this kind of eating can develop into an eating disorder, it is important to remember that eating disorders are different. Eating disorders are serious Psychological health concerns. They change the way you think and behave – especially in relation to your food and your diet.
An eating disorder can often linked with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, eating disorders are incredibly harmful both psychologically and physically. Eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Research has shown that they are more common in young women, however more and more cases of older women and men with eating disorders are emerging.
There are several different types of eating disorders, however the most common are:
- binge eating disorder.
Sometimes you can be diagnosed with an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). This is when a person is showing some, but not all, of the ‘classic’ eating disorder symptoms. This can be just as damaging to your Psychological Health health.
The causes of eating disorders are very complicated and often involve multiple aspects. Research has not been able to agree on a single reason why someone develops a problem with eating and the contributing factors will differ from person to person.
It is understood that it is a mix of biological, social, genetic, psychological and environmental factors that are involved. The main risk factors identified that may make someone more likely to develop an eating disorder include:
- Having a family history of eating disorders or depression.
- Having someone criticise your eating habits or your weight.
- Feeling pressure to stay slim for work or a hobby.
- Having certain characteristics, such as an obsessive personality or a tendency to be anxious.
- Experiencing upsetting events, such as a death or abuse.
- Relationship difficulties with friends or family members.
- Being under a lot of stress, for example at school or university.
The element of control tends to be a common thread. Often sufferers will feel as if their size and weight are the ‘only’ thing in their life that is under their control. Having this sense of control can feel empowering to begin with, but as the eating disorder develops it is likely to take control of the sufferer.
Anorexia nervosa is a condition that makes you want to weigh as little as possible. In order to do this, you will often go to extreme and dangerous measures. Examples of this would be restricting the amount of food you eat, making yourself vomit and exercising excessively.
When you have anorexia anorexia is likely you have a distorted image of yourself. This means that even though you are of a normal (or even below normal) weight, you will see yourself as overweight. The disorder makes you feel intense anxiety surrounding food. You will go to great lengths to avoid eating. This is because you fear putting on weight, or ‘losing control’ of your diet.
Anorexia tends to make you a master of deception. To avoid questioning or worried comments from your friends and family, you try to hide your eating habits. This may see you hiding food, exercising in secret or wearing loose clothing to hide your weight-loss.
As a sufferer you are likely to have confidence and self-esteem issues. You may blame their weight for this and any other issues that you are facing. You may believe if you reach a certain weight, these issues will go away and you will be happy. Sadly, this ‘goal weight’ always gets lower the worse the condition gets.
Signs and symptoms
If you have anorexia, may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:
- Eating very little, missing meals or lying about what they’ve eaten.
- Counting calories in an obsessive manner.
- Going to the bathroom after meals to vomit.
- Taking diet pills, laxatives or diuretics in an attempt to aid weight-loss.
- Repetitive body checking – this includes weighing and measuring themselves.
- Suffering from physical issues, such as hair loss and feeling dizzy.
If you are worried that you or someone you know may be suffering from anorexia, do not wait to see extreme weight-loss. While this is the main symptom of anorexia, the psychological symptoms come before this, and the earlier you or the sufferer receives help, the better.
Bulimia nervosa is another condition that makes you feel the need to control your weight. If you suffer bulimia you will try to restrict the amount of food you eat, binge and purge.
Binge eating is when you repeatedly eat a large quantity of food in one sitting. Usually this is done with high-calorie, fatty foods. Binges may happen spontaneously (often triggered by emotions like stress or anxiety) or they may be planned. During a binge, there may be a sense of mania or a loss of control.After a binge, you will feel guilty, ashamed and worried that they you put on weight. In an attempt to avoid this, you will purge.
Purging is the act of ridding your body of food. This is usually done by vomiting or taking laxatives. Less usual forms of purging include excessive exercising, diet pills and periods of starvation. You feel like you must regain control by purging, and the urge to do it becomes more frequent. In some cases, you may feel the need to purge after every meal.
Understandably, this cycle of binging and purging takes its toll on both your body and your mind. Because you may be within the normal weight range, making it all the more difficult to spot.
Signs and symptoms
Like most eating disorders you are likely to hide your behaviour. You may also be in denial of the fact that you have a problem. This can make it very hard for you to seek support. The following signs may indicate that you has bulimia:
- Being overly critical of their body and weight.
- Isolating themselves from people or situations.
- Frequent trips to the bathroom, especially after meals.
- Scars on the knuckles (from forced vomiting).
- Taking diet pills or laxatives.
If you have bulimia are more likely to have a normal weight, but this does not mean you do not need help.
Binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder, also known as BED, is a condition that sees you binge eating on a regular basis. Unlike bulimia however, the you will not purge after a binge.
Binges are usually planned with this type of disorder, and they are usually done in private. This is because you will feel ashamed and guilty after a binge and will try to hide your behaviour. Even though you will not purge or even be underweight, you will still have a very complicated relationship with food.
In between binges, you likely to try and control your eating habits and you may go on diets in an attempt to lose weight. You are likely to suffer from low self-esteem and may feel socially isolated.
You will likely be overweight and may encounter medical complications such as type two diabetes or heart disease. If you suffer binge eating disorder may find it difficult to ask for help. You may feel guilty or as if you don’t have a ‘real’ problem, and therefore do not ‘deserve’ help. The truth is that binge eating disorder is just as dangerous physically and emotionally as other eating disorders.
Signs and symptoms
Similarly to anorexia and bulimia, those with binge eating disorder are likely to be secretive about their behaviour. Common signs of this disorder include:
- Storing or hiding large quantities of food.
- Being secretive about eating habits.
- Putting on weight even though their diet appears healthy (they may be binge eating in secret).
Just like other eating disorders, overcoming BED takes time and support.
Once your eating disorder has been diagnosed, treatment can begin. Often, you will fail to see that you have a problem, making it difficult for you to receive support. This makes it especially important for friends and family to encourage you to talk about your eating and to seek professional help.
The recovery process may go through several stages. Progress can seem to go backwards and forwards, so a strong support system is essential.
In order to recover, you to want to change. You will need to get back to a healthy weight while addressing the psychological aspects of the condition.
Starting treatment early will give you the best chance of recovery, but it is never too late to seek help.
Treatments tend to involve monitoring your physical health while helping you deal with the psychological aspects. This can be done in a multitude of ways, the most popular of which include:
Alongside these treatments, you may benefit from other forms of therapy, such as hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy for eating disordersThe aim of this therapy is to use the power of suggestion to change habits and thoughts surrounding certain things. For example, hypnotherapy for eating disorders would look to facilitate a change in your thinking when it comes to eating.
Using positive suggestions under hypnosis I can help you change the way you think about yourself. Learning to love yourself again is an important part of the recovery process. You can also learn new ways of thinking about eating, gradually improving your relationship with food.
I will use Hypnotherapy can to help you cope with issues related to eating disorders. For example, you may suffer with anxiety or stress. Hypnotherapy can help you learn to relax and improve your overall well-being. Issues like low self-esteem and low self-confidence can also be addressed through hypnotherapy.
Hypnotherapy for eating disorders can teach you techniques to help you cope with unhelpful thinking. This can be especially beneficial to ensure you stay healthy after recovery. If you think you are at risk of relapsing, be sure to seek support. Moving on from an eating disorder can be a long process, but there are always professionals available to support your continued recovery.
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