How To Know If You Have An Eating Disorder And What To Do About It by Brooke Chaplan

(image: Unsplash)

Eating disorders come in many shapes and sizes. They can be hard to identify, as they can develop slowly over time, or they can be immediately apparent. Knowing the symptoms of an eating disorder and understanding the best way to seek help is important in order to help those who are suffering from these illnesses.  

Signs of an Eating Disorder 

Eating disorders often manifest themselves through physical changes in appearance, as well as psychological changes such as mood swings, isolation, and feelings of guilt or shame. There are a few signs that may indicate someone is struggling with an eating disorder:  

  • Dramatic changes in weight or body shape (either gaining or losing weight suddenly)  
  • Avoiding social situations where food is involved  
  • Obsessive counting of calories or talking about dieting constantly  
  • Obsessive exercising (working out excessively even when injured)  
  • Preoccupation with food, body image, and weight gain/loss  
  • Negative self-talk (criticizing one’s own body image)  

If you have any reason to believe that someone you care about has an eating disorder, it’s important to get them help right away. The longer someone goes without treatment for an eating disorder, the more difficult it becomes for that person to overcome the illness

It’s also important to remember that a person doesn’t need to show all the signs listed above for it to be considered an eating disorder; if you suspect something is wrong, trust your instincts and reach out for help.  

Seeking Treatment for Eating Disorders   

If you think someone may have an eating disorder it’s important not to ignore the warning signs. The best course of action is always to seek professional medical advice. A psychiatrist or therapist will be able to diagnose any underlying issues and recommend treatment options based on their experience and expertise.

Treatment options for eating disorders vary depending on the individual but typically include some combination of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other therapies, medication management, nutrition counselling, and lifestyle coaching. It’s essential that individuals receive support from family members during treatment so they can stay focused on their recovery journey.  

Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that require professional medical attention in order to be treated properly. If you think someone might have an eating disorder it’s important not to ignore the warning signs but rather seek professional advice right away in order for the individual to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored specifically for them.

With proper treatment, individuals with eating disorders can learn how to manage their mental health around food, body image, and emotional well-being so they can live a healthy life.

This article was written by freelance writer Brooke Chaplan.

4 Ways To Treat An Eating Disorder by Lizzie Weakley

(image: M, Unsplash)

There are several types of eating disorders, each with a unique set of symptoms and struggles. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an eating disorder, you don’t have to face it alone. There are many options for treatment, and plenty of compassionate professionals who are willing and able to help.

Here are four ways to treat an eating disorder that can help.

Treatment for Physical Symptoms

If the eating disorder has been present for a long time, you may have developed some physical symptoms that need to be addressed. Dental problems, nutrient deficiencies, trouble with digestion, high blood pressure, and amenorrhea are common in people with eating disorders. You should seek professional medical care to diagnose and treat physical symptoms as soon as possible.

Therapy and Programs for Mental Health

Certain types of therapies have been proven effective for the treatment of eating disorders and mental health issues that contribute to them. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most common treatment options for eating disorders. Therapy can be done in a group setting or one-on-one with a therapist to help the patient develop healthier eating patterns. Your doctor may also recommend residential or day treatment programs to help you recover more effectively and different types of therapy too.

Education about Nutrition- Managing Triggers

Getting properly educated about food can help tremendously when you are recovering from an eating disorder. Many of us have preconceived notions about good and bad foods, and there can be a lot of guilt and shame associated with the consumption of certain foods. A nutritionist can work with you to reduce your fear of food.. If certain foods trigger you, your nutritionist and therapist can help you to manage these triggers.

Medications

When combined with therapy, medications can be effective in the treatment of eating disorders. While medication can’t cure the disorder, it can help ease depression and anxiety that can contribute to disordered eating. Antidepressants are commonly used, and you may also be prescribed medications to treat physical symptoms. Your doctor will be able to tell you which medications are right for you, though it is trial and error.

Our relationship with food can directly impact our mental and physical health. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you should consider these effective treatment options.

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer.

How To Know If You Have An Eating Disorder and What To Do Next by Rachelle Wilber

(image: Unsplash)

An estimated 45 million people in the United States (and many millions globally) go on a diet each year to try and shed extra pounds. While exercising and eating healthfully is important, obsessing over losing weight can turn into an eating disorder.

Eating disorders present in a variety of different forms such as bulimia, anorexia, and/or binge eating. Staying aware of the symptoms of an eating disorder and what you should do should you develop one can help you stay healthy.

Different Types of Eating Disorders

Though problems with food can manifest in different ways, there are three main types of eating disorders.

  • Bulimia: Those with bulimia typically eat large amounts of food and then purge the food afterward by vomiting or using laxatives
  • Anorexia: Those with anorexia avoid eating or eat extremely small amounts of food
  • Binge eating: Those with binge eating may eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time

Look for Common Symptoms of Eating Disorders

One of the best ways to determine if you have an eating disorder is by watching for symptoms in your own habits and behavior. These symptoms may also be noticed by your friends, family, or other loved ones. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Having a fear of gaining weight or growing fat
  • Withdrawing from activities with family and friends
  • Becoming secretive and lying about it
  • Experiencing anxiety and depression
  • Feeling an intense fear of certain foods, such as foods that are sweet or have high levels of fat
  • Obsessing over the number of calories and food eaten
  • Avoiding situations that involve food
  • Attempting to lose weight by purging, using laxatives or over-exercising
  • Weighing yourself daily or multiple times per day

If you suspect you have an eating disorder, know that you aren’t alone and that help is available. Be proud that you are taking the first step and seeking help. It may be helpful to identify ways that you are not feeling in control in your life and the way you feel around food.

Keeping a journal of these feelings is a great way to learn more about your habits and identify the feelings that triggered your eating disorder. Next, talk with your insurance company (if in the US) or NHS/ privately if in UK and seek out a reputable doctor for eating disorder treatment. There are many specialists, counsellors, and rehabilitation centers available who are highly experienced in helping people recover from their disorder. Please note that the NHS may have waiting lists but seeking help is so important to find recovery.

Having an eating disorder often means you feel a lot of shame about yourself and your eating habits. Talking with a doctor and/or therapist can help you let go of this shame so you can love yourself and take the first steps on your road to healing.

This article was written by freelance writer Rachelle Wilber.

New #ChangetheStory Campaign by Hope Virgo and The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition shows rise in Eating Disorder Stereotypes.

(image: Change the Story Campaign)

#ChangeTheStory and Anybody and Everybody is a new campaign launched this month by The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition which is chaired by Multi-Award winning campaigner and Author, Hope Virgo. Hope is a friend of mine who has campaigned for years for help for those with eating disorders and she is a force to be reckoned with and an amazing woman!

Eating disorders are serious, biologically based mental illnesses deserving of equal clinical and research funding to that given to other complex diseases. They want to ensure that no-one with an eating disorder need experience shame or guilt, and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

Author and Multi-Award winning campaigner, Hope Virgo who chairs the coalition says;“When we think of eating disorders we often immediately think of a white teenage, emaciated girl and fail to realise that eating disorders are so often hidden in plain sight amongst all ages, genders races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations and socio-economic statuses. The campaign is working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from an eating disorder and to make sure that everybody has prompt access to specialist services.”

(image on Twitter: Change the Story campaign, Hope Virgo and FEAST outside the Houses of Parliament)

Eating disorders are not new illnesses, but there has been a massive rise in cases during the pandemic. Unacceptable delays before treatment means we are also seeing a rise in avoidable chronic long-term illness and loss of life. We need to ensure that we are no longer hiding behind the global pandemic but ensuring that the right support is in place for everyone because no one should be dying of an eating disorder in 2022. They are working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from a biologically based illness and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

To raise awareness of the campaign they have created a video supported by Instagram. For a long time, people have used Instagram to challenge stereotypes about body size, share their journeys with overcoming body image issues, and celebrate different body types. 

 Renee McGregor, leading Sports and Eating disorder specialist dietitian said;“We need to change the images, narrative and practices presently associated with eating disorders in order to ensure that no further lives are lost to this illness in 2022 or beyond.” 

Suzanne Baker, CarerRepresentative for F.E.A.S.T. (www.feast-ed.org)in the UK, said;“timely access to sustained, specialist treatment is key to recovery from an eating disorder at any age or stage. Currently too many people are not able to access this treatment often due to misconceptions about what an eating disorder ‘looks’ like. There is no one look – eating disorders are serious biologically influenced illnesses and are often hidden in plain sight.

Dr Agnes Ayton, chair of the Eating Disorders Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “No one chooses to have an eating disorder. An eating disorder can affect anyone at any age and can be caused by a range of factors including genes, mental or physical health conditions and social pressure. The stigma around having an eating disorder prevents many people from asking for help when they need it. No one should feel embarrassed to ask for help. An eating disorder can have very serious long-term effects on the body, but with treatment, people can fully recover. Raising awareness of this issue is an important first step in helping people to get the help they need. If you think you may have an eating disorder, speak to your GP who can refer you to a specialist counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist. You can also visit the NHS Choices website to find out what additional support is available, including confidential helplines.”

Gerome Breen, Professor of Psychiatric Genetics at King’s College London says: “Research and its dissemination are essential to dispelling the unhelpful myths and stigma that surround eating disorders and compound their long-lasting and devastating impacts. By understanding more about why and how eating disorders develop we can improve society’s conceptualisation of these conditions and hopefully enable more people to seek and receive the support they need.”

(image on Twitter: Jeremy Hunt MP with Hope Virgo)

You can help by posting a selfie to support this campaign with the hashtag #changethestory.

Watch the video here to discover more about the campaign: