Eating disorders can be terrifying: for the sufferer whose world is controlled by their relationship with food and for whom food has become their obsession and the only way they feel in control of their life. But terrifying for their loved ones who fear for their health and their future, feeling that their loved one is lost to them and who feel helpless in the face of the disorder.
Eating disorders can lead to isolation, obsessive behaviour, body dysmorphia and lying to cover up what’s really going on. It can fracture previously healthy relationships, even entire families, and can cause significant health problems. In addition, sufferers will have emotional issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, self-criticism, shame, and stress.
Eating disorders are a mental health condition where the disordered behaviour is used as a way of feeling safe, despite the obvious dangers which the sufferer is often in denial of. It is not the same as wanting to lose a few pounds after Christmas or just before your holiday, so the approach is significantly different.
For carers it can be heart-breaking, exhausting, disheartening and confusing.
What is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are life-threatening mental illnesses, not life-choices. Eating disorders rank as the twelfth leading cause of disability in young women in industrialised countries, though they can affect men and women of all ages too. It is a broad term which covers a variety of conditions, including:
- Binge Eating
- Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
- Bariatric Surgery Support
A full list available from https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm
The Dangers of Eating Disorders and the Need for Professional Help
Just to make life more complicated, people can move from one eating disorder to another and the wrong kind of treatment can lead to other significant health problems. This is why working with a professional is so very important: each disorder carries their unique challenges and require different approaches.
If you, or someone you care about, is suffering from an eating disorder it is very distressing. It can severely impact your/their self-esteem, social life, relationships and, last but not least, health.
Eating disorders can persist for years untreated, during which time they take a stronger hold. The longer they are left untreated, the more stubborn they are to treat and the longer it takes to recover. So, early intervention will serve you better.
Recovery from Eating Disorders
What is most important is to work to ensure recovery, not just in the short-term but for life. This will entail changing the relationship with food, restoring weight (for anorexia), nutritional rehabilitation, psychological support, developing life skills so that the disorder is not the point of refuge in times of challenge. Maintenance and lapse-prevention are also significant factors. In addition, helping to develop a life outside of the disorder will be an important part of recovery.
In treatment you can expect to be guided and supported through the eating disorder, feeling heard and understood, so you come out the other side stronger, wiser, more confident and healthier, both mentally and physically.
Professional Help for Eating Disorders
As a Master Practitioner of Eating Disorders and a nutritionist, I have been working with individuals, from teenagers to adults, for many years. I use an integrative approach, empowering sufferers to have a healthy relationship with food, develop insight into the condition, what is keeping them stuck and help them move beyond it, step by step, feeling safe and supported.
Recovery requires professional help. If you want help for eating disorders, do pick up the phone for a free, no-obligation chat to find out how I can help you. I can be reached on 0345 130 0854. Or you can get in touch here.
“I cannot thank you enough for the huge difference in my daughter in the past month or so. She is in a far better place mentally and physically. She continues to make wonderful progress and is not doing any restricting at all, was cooking loads and eating with us, happy and passionate about life again and a joy to be with. Her recovery and coping strategies are all down to your help and support. I cannot ever thank you enough. You literally saved her and bought her back to us as a family. My heartfelt gratitude always.” Sally B