Eating disorders are psychological disorders where food, eating behaviours and body shape or weight become an unhealthy focus in someone’s life, often as a way of trying to control their life. They are more common in adolescent females but they can affect anyone.
Anorexia is usually characterised by food restriction, often resulting in extreme weight loss and poor nutritional intake. This may start as a diet or well intentioned weight control and before long spirals further into dietary restriction and severe weight loss.
Bulimia is characterised by a preoccupation with food and weight resulting in out of control patterns of dietary restriction and uncontrollable overeating (bingeing). Bulimia is also characterised by activities such as excessive exercise, self induced vomiting, laxative abuse or periods of fasting to compensate for the bingeing.
Binge eating disorder is characterised by periods of binge eating and restriction without compensatory behaviours.
A person with an eating disorder my not fit into a clinical definition but may still have an eating problem.
Signs of an eating problem
- Feeling out of control with food
- Fear of becoming overweight
- Developing a list of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods
- Weight loss or fluctuating weight
- Preoccupation with body appearance or weight
- Faintness, dizziness, fatigue
- Loss of menstrual periods
- Sensitivity to cold
- Avoidance of social situations involving food
- Increased interest in preparing food for others
- Making frequent excuses not to eat
One of the hardest steps to take is to admit to yourself that you have a problem. If thoughts about food are consuming a lot of your time or you are unhappy around food and eating then it is enough of an issue to do something about it. Food is important for our physical wellbeing but should not be the focus of your life.
In a nutrition consultation, your Dietitian will work with you to help you achieve a healthy weight and healthy eating pattern by including adequate amounts from all the food groups. Over time we will also focus on helping you relearn normal eating patterns so that you can enjoy foods without it being an unhealthy focus in your life. Your doctor and psychologist or psychiatrist and family members are also important parts of the team in assisting you to overcome an eating disorder.
If you think you have disordered eating and want some help, we have a dietitian on our team who specialises in this area. For more information or to book at appointment, phone 9415 4845 or fill in our Appointment Request form here.