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How Do You Know If You Have An Eating Disorder?

Eating Disorders by Tricia Woolfrey

This week is Eating Disorders Awareness week.  Eating disorders create misery for the sufferer and the people they care about.

An eating disorder can be defined as abnormal feeding habits associated with psychological factors.  These can cause extreme health problems and can create a strain on relationships.  Anyone with an eating disorder will have an excessive – and often distorted – focus on their weight and shape. This, in turn, results in extreme eating behaviours which are difficult to control.

There are various forms.  As a Master Practitioner for Eating Disorders, by far the most difficult one that I treat is the most well-known – Anorexia – as the sufferer is usually in denial about the effects of their condition, and is adept at manipulating their way out of eating.  Here is a quick overview of the most common eating disorders:

Anorexia:   Excessive restriction of calorie intake, yet obsessive and knowledgeable about food.  Will often employ excessive exercise as another way of burning calories.  Will be convinced of their “fatness” despite a skeletal frame.  May use vomiting, diuretics, or abuse laxatives or enemas as a way of keeping weight down, though these habits are very dangerous.  People suffering from anorexia will have a genuine fear of gaining weight. This condition is very troubling for relatives who despair at seeing their loved one disappear in front of their eyes. They will have a BMI of 17 or below and the condition can be fatal.
     
Bulimia:   Bulimics tend to binge and then make up for this by “purging”, either by the use of laxatives or by vomiting.  These methods are extremely dangerous, however, and must never be used as a way of managing weight. The bulimic’s weight will often be normal so the condition might be invisible to others, or they may experience fluctuations in weight.
     
Binge Eating:   Bingers have episodes of overeating which they tend to do secretly and alone.  They will suffer severe cravings and gorge vast amounts of food very quickly.

Other, less well-known eating disorders, include, but are not limited to, Night Eating Syndrome, Orthorexia and Selective Eating Disorder.

So, how do you know if you have a healthy relationship with food?  You will eat regularly, feel healthy, eat healthy food, eat until satisfied rather than over-stuffed, stop when you’ve had enough, feel in control of your eating, feel happy about what you eat, don’t gain weight, have weight within normal weight range, have pleasure and satisfaction from food yet feel neutral about it.  Your behaviour around food will be flexible and relaxed.

Eating disorders are notoriously difficult to treat and cause misery either to the sufferer and/or those close to them.  If you suspect that you, or someone you love, has an eating disorder, it is important to seek professional help sooner rather than later.  The longer you have an eating disorder, the longer it takes to overcome it.

Part of the treatment includes dealing with the emotional causes of the problem; change the person’s relationship with food; help to balance the body including regulation of blood sugar levels; help build self-esteem, increase assertiveness, manage stress levels and, last but by no means least, to feel good about themselves irrespective of weight.

We are not our weight and the media have an awful lot to answer for, though they are not the sole cause of these problems.  They do, however, feed (pun intended) our fragile body-image with digitally enhanced and surgically honed images.

If you have concerns about your weight or eating disorders, do give me a call to see how I can help you.  I can be reached on 0845 130 0854.

© Tricia Woolfrey 2013

Tricia Woolfrey is a hypnotherapist, coach, wellness practitioner and author based in Byfleet Village and Harley Street. She is a Master Practitioner of Eating Disorders and is qualified in advanced clinical hypnotherapy and psychotherapy, holistic nutrition and food intolerance testing.

www.pw-hypnotherapy.co.uk. 0845 130 0854.