I have been very interested in why people develop a feeding or eating disorder for many years, this came about due to the fact I had an undiagnosed eating disorder for over 30 years. During this time I had spoken to a psychotherapist about my eating habits only to be told that I did not have an eating disorder, mainly for the fact I did not match the criteria they were following. This led me to research eating disorders and in 2016 I became a qualified counsellor, 2017 I trained with the National Centre for Eating Disorder in London to specialise in F.E.D.
So What Are Feeding and Eating Disorders?
As stated by the DSM-5 ‘Feeding and eating disorders are characterised by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behaviour that results in an altered consumption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychological functioning’. So what this means is people have an abnormal attitude towards food that causes them to change their feeding and eating habits, this usually occurs in a secretive way.
Reason’s which may lead to an eating disorder:
A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food and damaging their health, however this might not the only reason. This can be a collective misunderstanding by society, media and even some medical professionals that people whom suffer from a feeding or eating disorder do so because of a misconception of their weight and body shape in other words they see a fat person in the mirror, or they just want to loose weight. This can be a part of the disorder but a lot of sufferers may also suffer from other mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, depression, mood disorder, social phobia or trauma, autism spectrum disorder or general feelings and/or misunderstood leading to feelings of inadequacy, self-loathing, shame and guilt. As their life seems to be out of their control, the one and only thing they perceive they can control is what they eat, and how they eat it.
Who is affected by eating disorders?
Although feeding and eating disorders tend to be more common in certain age groups, it is not uncommon for eating disorder to affect people of any age, it had been noted in 2018 that children as young as 6 years old have been diagnosed with Anorexia (AN) to women in their 70’s being diagnosed.
Here are some other sats that might interest you for 2018
- 25 million people in the UK had an eating disorder and 11% of them are men
- The NHS stated up to 64% of adults display signs of an eating disorder with 25% of them being male
- The most common eating disorders are: 10% Anorexia, 40% Bulimia and the other 50% being BED (Binge Eating Disorder) and EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)
Types of eating disorders
- Anorexia (AN) – primarily affects adolescents and the young females mostly, however males and more mature people are now being diagnosed, is characterized by distorted body image and excessive dieting or purging that leads to severe weight loss with a pathological fear of putting on weight and becoming fat, a disturbance in the way in which they experience their body shape and self-image.
- Bulimia (BN) – primarily affects those over the age of 18 years and is charaterised by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate behaviours such as self-induced vomiting or excessive use of laxatives to avoid weight gain. When bulimia occurs in diabetic patients they may choose to neglect their insulin treatment
- Binge Eating Disorder (BED) – primarily affects those over the age of 18 years and is defined as recurring episodes of eating, significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control.
- EDNOS – this area covers various feeding and eating disorders not yet given their own status, these can include the newest researched areas such as ‘bigorexia’ (muscle definition and shape) affecting boys and young males, ‘drunkorexia’ where people do not eat all day in order to keep the calories for when they go drinking.
People can also be diagnosed with an ‘A-typical’ version of the above as they may or may not have all the characterised behaviours for a certain disorder, therefore it can be seen that everyone’s feeding and eating disorder is unique to them.
How long does it last & what is recovery
Information gathered in 2018 suggests that the average duration of Anorexia is 8 years with 46% of sufferers will make a full recovery, 33% will improve however 20% remain chronically ill. The average duration of Bulimia is 5 years with 45% of sufferers will make a full recovery, 27% will improve considerably with 23% remain chronically ill. For me my ‘A-typical’ Bulimia lasted for 31 years and I can now say I have been in full recovery for over 2 years.
If you have any concerns or are worried about a loved one, family member or friend, there are a number of organisations and specialised professionals that can help, they include:
Helpline 0808 801 0677
Youthline 0808 801 0711
Studentline 0808 801 8011
National Centre for Eating Disorders:
Phone 0845 838 2050