Eating Disorders

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What is an Eating Disorder

Eating too much or too little is a problem almost everyone experiences at some time. We may eat a lot if we are feeling sad or stressed, or we may not feel like eating all all. However if we continue to eat an amount that causes big changes in our weight or health, we may need to address the problem and try to learn new ways of eating the amount and sort of food that we need to stay healthy.

Some eating problems are much more severe than others. These have been given particular names which are associated with weight loss, unusual eating behaviours (such as bingeing, vomiting or purging), and false ideas about the size and shape of our bodies.

Anorexia Nervosa is a loss of more than 15% of normal weight in the absence of any other disease that might explain the weight loss. People with this disorder usually have irrational fears of being fat, even when they are clearly very thin. They eat very little carbohydrates, such as sugar, bread and potatoes. Their general health and hormones may be interfered with. They may stop their menstrual cycles or delay the onset of puberty if young.

Bulimia Nervosa is a disturbed pattern of eating where the person eats excessive amounts at times in an uncontrollable way, then tries to get rid of the food by making themselves vomit, or by taking laxatives or diuretic pills. Their happiness often depends almost entirely on the way they feel about the shape and size of their body.

Obesity is weighing more than 20% more than the expected weight, adjusted for sex, height, build and age, particularly when an excess of fat is a risk to the persons health.

There are also a range of other less serious problems associated with eating that do not cause such dramatic changes in weight or cause unusual eating behaviours, however still affect our health and ability to live the kind of life we would like.