There are various different types of eating disorders and it can be difficult to spot whether a person’s food habits signify those of someone with an eating disorder. This blog post asks questions about your eating habits to determine if you may be struggling with food. It is not a diagnosis. Answering yes to the questions could indicate you have an eating disorder and you should seek advice from a doctor.
Do you spend a significant amount of time worrying about your body, weight or shape?
Would you say that food, or thinking about food, dominates your life?
Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
Do you make yourself sick when you feel uncomfortably full?
Do you believe that you are fat when others say you are too thin?
Do you avoid food or eating? – OR – Have you experienced a lack of interest in food or eating?
If you suspect that you or someone you know has an eating disorder, it is important to seek help immediately. The earlier you seek help the closer you are to recovery. While your GP may not be formally trained in detecting the presence of an eating disorder, he/she is a good ‘first base.’ A GP can refer you on to a practitioner with specialised knowledge in eating disorders.
find your local eating disorder service here
Suicidal thoughts make every minute of the day a struggle. We are often left questioning why we are still here and what the future holds for us. We wonder how we can keep living a life that has been so hard. We wonder if we’ll ever get better and get the help we need. Mental health problems can be frustrating, isolating, and deathly.
However, there are people out there who understand and want to help. Here are 100 reasons as to why you should stay alive if you’re currently struggling!
- to have hugs that last more than a minute
- a smile from someone special
- melted chocolate
- ice cream on a hot day
- adventures with friends
- watching a sunset
- laughing uncontrollably
- you’ve made it this far
- building forts
- eating fresh baked cookies
- bonfires and hoodies
- pregnancy and new life
- finding a person you love
- late night adventures
- overcoming fears
- dancing in the rain
- walking through the countryside
- making friends with nature
- life is beautiful
- movie nights
- foot massages
- saturday mornings
- you have forever to be dead
- to be happy one day
- you’re beautiful
- you can make a huge difference on the world
- moving to a new place
- getting a pet
- new clothes at summer
- dancing without care
- picnics with friends
- long drives
- waking up late
- to prove them all wrong
- to love and be loved
- the ocean
- very loud music
- days out
- watching a concert/play
- reading your favourite book
- conversations that last all night
- to plan for the future
- to learn new things
- you are important
- christmas morning
- someday the pain will end
- warm baths
- the first snow of winter
- first kisses
- sand between your toes
- flowers in spring
- pyjamas after a hard, long day
- new bed sheets
- water balloon fights
- thrill of roller coasters
- meeting your favourite celebrities
- days spent outside
- the sound of water
- visiting a place from childhood
- all the places you’ve never been
- music whilst driving
- to look back at all the shit you got through
- buying new clothes
- meeting internet friends in real life
- to succeed
- to work in the career you’ve always wanted
- baby laughter
- a hot cup of tea
- rules to break
- to help someone
- smiling at strangers
- the last day of school/work
- taking pictures
- water slides
- going on holiday
- to fall asleep on someone
- to be protected
- to grow
- to make new memories
- to look back on old memories
- to laugh at childhood pictures
- sit with animals and nature
- to be loved by a pet
- swimming on a hot day
- the first signs of autumn
- to binge-watch a series
- to live independently
- to get somewhere in life
- to breathe
- to grow
- so that you can say that you’re alive
Bulimia is a serious eating disorder where people feel that they have lost control over their eating and evaluate themselves according to their body shape and weight. People with bulimia are caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food (called ‘bingeing’), and then vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics (called purging), in order to prevent gaining weight. This behaviour can dominate daily life and lead to difficulties in relationships and social situations. Usually people hide this behaviour pattern from others and their weight is often in a healthy range. People with bulimia tend not to seek help or support very readily and can experience swings in their mood as well as feeling anxious and tense.
They may also have very low self-esteem and self harm. They may experience symptoms such as tiredness, feeling bloated, constipation, abdominal pain, irregular periods, or occasional swelling of the hands and feet. Excessive vomiting can cause problems with the teeth, while laxative misuse can seriously affect the heart. Bulimia in children and young people is rare, although young people may have some of the symptoms of the condition. Bulimia usually develops at a slightly older age than anorexia. In some instances, although not all, bulimia develops from anorexia.
- Bingeing – eating large amounts of food
- Purging after bingeing – vomiting, over exercising, using laxatives or diuretics, fasting
- Preoccupied with thoughts of food and life may be organised around shopping, eating and purging behaviour
- Usually secretive about bulimic episodes
- Mood swings
- Feeling anxious and tense
- Distorted perception of body shape or weight
- Feeling of loss of control over eating
- Feelings of guilt and shame after bingeing and purging Isolation
- Can be associated with depression, low self-esteem, misuse of alcohol and self-harm
Physical signs of bulimia
Some of the more common signs of bulimia nervosa are:
- Excessive exercising
- Misuse of laxatives and diuretics
- Disappearing soon after eating
- Fatigue, lethargy
- Feeling bloated
- Stomach pain
- Swelling of the hands and feet
- Periods stop or are irregular (amenorrhea)
- Enlarged salivary glands
- Calluses on the backs of the hand from forcing down throat to vomit
- Electrolyte abnormalities/ imbalance
- Gastric problems
- Regular changes in weight
Worried you have an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are complex; there’s no single cause and not all symptoms will apply to all people. You may feel that you have a mixture of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder or even alternate between them. Some people also find they are affected by other mental health issues, an urge to harm themselves or abuse alcohol or drugs.
Even if you don’t have these symptoms if you are worried and upset by something, anything, it is important you find someone to talk to. Don’t bottle it up.
Sometimes people worry about talking to someone because they feel their eating disorder isn’t serious enough, they don’t want to worry people or waste their time, or because they feel guilty, embarrassed or ashamed. Whether your eating difficulties began recently, you’ve been struggling for a while or you’re finding yourself relapsing, you deserve support and with this support you can overcome your eating disorder. Eating disorders are illnesses and you deserve to have your concerns acknowledged respectfully, to be taken seriously and to be supported in the same way as if you were affected by any other illness.
Discover more about the different types of eating disorders or how to access help and treatment as well as information and inspiration about recovery.
When it comes to eating disorders, everyone has heard of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. However, these are not the only types of eating disorders that exist.
EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) or now recognised as OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder) is the most common type of eating disorder and the most deadly – but no one seems to know about it or its consequences!
A person with OSFED may present with many of the symptoms of other eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder but will not meet the full criteria for diagnosis of these disorders. Diagnoses that fit within this criteria include atypical anorexia (anorexic behaviours but a normal weight), atypical bulimia (less frequent behaviours), purging disorder (vomiting without binging), and night eating syndrome (excessively eating after bed time).
This does not mean that the person has a less serious eating disorder.
OSFED is the most common eating disorder and the most deadliest.
It has a mortality rate of 5.2 percent — higher than both anorexia and bulimia — despite the fact its sufferers often look healthy.
Signs that a person is struggling with OSFED
The warning signs of OSFED can be physical, psychological and behavioural. It is possible for someone with OSFED to display a combination of these symptoms:
- Weight loss, weight gain or weight fluctuations
- Loss of or disturbance of menstrual periods in girls and women and decreased libido in men
- Compromised immune system (e.g. getting sick more often)
- Signs of damage due to vomiting including swelling around the cheeks or jaw, calluses on knuckles, damage to teeth and bad breath
- Fainting and dizziness as a result of dehydration
- Preoccupation with food and eating
- Preoccupation with body shape and weight (in men this can be a preoccupation with increasing muscle bulk)
- Extreme body dissatisfaction
- Having a distorted body image (e.g. seeing themselves as overweight even if they are in a healthy weight range for their age and height)
- Sensitivity to comments relating to food, weight, body shape or exercise
- Heightened anxiety and/or irritability around meal times
- Depression, anxiety or irritability
- Low self esteem and feelings of shame, self loathing or guilt
- ‘Black and white’ thinking – rigid thoughts about food being ‘good’ or ‘bad’
- Dieting behaviour (e.g. fasting, counting calories/kilojoules, avoiding food groups such as fats and carbohydrates)
- Evidence of binge eating (e.g. disappearance or hoarding of food)
- Frequent trips to the bathroom during or shortly after meals which could be evidence of vomiting or laxative use
- Compulsive or excessive exercising (e.g. exercising in bad weather, continuing to exercise when sick or injured, and experiencing distress if exercise is not possible)
- Eating at unusual times and/or after going to sleep at night
- Changes in food preferences (e.g. claiming to dislike foods previously enjoyed, sudden preoccupation with ‘healthy eating’, or replacing meals with fluids)
- Obsessive rituals around food preparation and eating (e.g. eating very slowly, cutting food into very small pieces, insisting that meals are served at exactly the same time everyday)
- Anti-social behaviour, particularly around meal times, and withdrawal from social situations involving food
- Secretive behaviour around food (e.g. saying they have eaten when they haven’t, hiding uneaten food in their rooms)
- Increased interest in food preparation (e.g. planning, buying, preparing and cooking meals for others but not actually consuming; interest in cookbooks, recipes and nutrition)
- Increased interest and focus on body shape and weight (e.g. interest in weight loss websites, books, magazines or images of thin people)
- Repetitive or obsessive behaviours relating to body shape and weight (e.g. weighing themselves repeatedly, looking in the mirror obsessively and pinching waist or wrists)
- Increased isolation, spending more and more time alone and avoiding previously enjoyed activities
Where to go for help:
If you suspect that you or someone you know has OSFED, it is important to seek help immediately. The earlier you seek help the closer you are to recovery. While your GP may not be formally trained in detecting the presence of an eating disorder, he/she is a good ‘first base.’ A GP can refer you on to a practitioner with specialised knowledge in eating disorders.
find your local eating disorder service here