What is an Eating Disorder?
Food is an essential part of our lives; we need it to survive. When people are under stress, their appetite and the way they view food are often affected. They may lose interest in eating; they may eat more than usual or crave certain types of food. Very often this will pass when their lives return to normal and the difficulties are resolved.
However, for some people food can become an overwhelming concern which comes to dominate their lives. They may develop eating habits that become damaging to their physical and psychological health. It may get to the stage where food is all they think about. They may try to control their intake of food by avoiding eating or they may find it difficult to stop eating even when they are full. Some people use potentially harmful ways to try to lose weight such as making themselves vomit, using laxatives or over exercising. When someone’s eating behaviour and attitudes to eating become affected to this extent, they may have what is known as an “eating disorder”.
There are three main categories of eating disorder: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and a more general category which includes Binge-Eating Disorder. Although they differ in some ways, they also share common features and sufferers can move from one diagnosis to another over time.
In general, eating disorders tend to develop over time and often during times of personal stress and uncertainty.
Who gets Eating Disorders?
Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are ten times more common in females than males, although they are becoming increasingly common in males. They also occur more often in people who have been overweight in childhood.
Eating disorders often have a significant impact on someone's life. They can affect health and well-being, work, family and social life and relationships with others.