I see eating disorders everywhere. I meet young people at work who talk about them (without really labelling them). Social media talks bout weight and eating issues a lot in todays day and age. The media in general portrays a one dimensional view of how to eat and how to look for men and women.
However, eating disorders do not always look like super skinny people. I work with young people and parents who have an eating disorder and are morbidly obese. Eating disorders do not fit one picture.
‘characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour.’ (NHS website).
There are distinctions absolutely – but my focus here is trying to highlight when you may want to seek some professional help even before any of thoughts of diagnosis.
Mostly commonly viewed as very very thin people who will not eat or will do anything to keep their output more than their intake to maintain a very low body weight. This is often associated with body dysmorphia and people do no see what other’s see.
Predominantly when someone eats food and throws it back up (purges) in order to control their weight. This is also a way of harming yourself and the reasons behind it will be very individual, but the aim is to lose weight or maintain it.
Binge eating disorder
When someone has a compulsion to overeat and sometimes not purge.
Fitness and Eating?
Why I want to talk about eating disorders in general is because I have seen a lot of fitness people talk about their struggle with an eating disorder and it’s great that they have overcome their battle. However, I am never fully convinced that increasing food intake and exercise is really ‘getting over’ an eating disorder.
Why is this the case? Well, if you have anorexia and are hospitalised, you will not be taking steps outside the small arena of the hospital ward without being monitored. Every calorie in and out of your body with anorexia counts when you are not eating. Some people exercise excessively and don’t eat. Which is why I am never quite sure how much exercise can take over from an eating disorder. How does someone maintain a body weight that is still within a normal range, but not so underweight people will worry?!
I am not here to judge, but what I am here to think about what an eating disorder might look like before it has a label….
What is really difficult within the NHS is that unless you are within the tick boxes of an actual eating disorder, the service you will get is basically zero. I work with teenagers who have ‘eating disordered cognitions’ and they are often fuelled from social media pressures and comparing constantly to others around them.
Eating disordered cognitions –
I could even fall within that remit and I would not consider myself to have an eating disorder. Food is great, I think. There are times where I over eat and I do restrict my diet in certain ways. This is mostly to reduce or maintain my weight in healthy ways. Not by restricting all food.
Things you should start to worry about and seek help/advice from your GP or a nutritionist.
- You get anxiety if you feel that you have eating more than you have ‘allowed’ yourself for one meal or one day.
- Your eating regime/daily intake is less than 600-800 kcal a day. Your heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, pancreas, etc need calories to work at a very basic level. Without moving.
- Your macro counting and you cant think about anything else.
- You look at other people and compare yourself all the time.
- You are actually not overweight. Your weight for height is actually within normal range.
- You are very overweight and very unhappy about it.
Seek professional help if you are concerned about your relationship with food.