Eating Disorders

People spend a lot of time talking about food – what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and so on. Our relationship with food can change quite often – sometimes we try to eat healthier, other times we have cravings, eat too much, or lose our appetite. We may find it difficult to eat if we are stressed, or we tend to eat foods that reassure us if we feel unhappy. Changing eating habits from time to time is a natural thing to do and you do not have to worry.

However, an unbalanced diet and unhealthy eating behaviours can become a problem over time. Eating disorders are characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behaviour, leading to changes in food absorption, and significantly affecting physical health and psychosocial functioning.

Experts provided by Guide to Rehab UK develop integrated treatment programs to address as many of the complex needs of people affected by eating disorders and their families.

Are eating disorders strictly associated with food?

An eating disorder that has been around for a long time can be difficult to manage, it is important to understand that these eating problems are not just about food and can be related to difficult things in a person’s life, like the difficulty in expressing, accepting or resolving emotional pains. Focusing on food can be a way to “hide” these issues.

The most common eating disorders:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia
  • Binge-eating disorder

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by weight loss caused by severe restriction of food intake, having an intense fear of weight gain, and affecting the perception of body shape and real weight. Some people suffering from anorexia nervosa lose weight through strict diet and excessive exercise, while others also associate purging behaviours -use of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas. Anorexia nervosa is associated with mental health problems as well. When becoming severely underweight, affected people experience depressive symptoms such as depressed mood, social isolation, irritability, insomnia, and decreased interest in sex.

Anorexia Nervosa and malnutrition can lead to serious medical conditions. These include anaemia, impaired kidney function, cardiovascular problems, dental problems and osteoporosis. Some people with anorexia nervosa fully recover after a single episode, others have a fluctuating weight gain pattern followed by relapse, and others experience a chronic deteriorating course of the disorder for several years. In many cases, hospitalization may be necessary to restore weight and restore fluid imbalance in the body.

People suffering from bulimia nervosa are mostly concerned about weight and body shape and are dissatisfied with their appearance. But, in contrast to people with anorexia, they may have normal body weight. It is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, accompanied by repeated compensatory behaviours designed to counteract the effect of these amounts of food on body weight – causing vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, dietary restriction or excessive exercise. Compulsive eating takes place in secret, in a way that is as unobservable as possible and continues until the person feels uncomfortable or painfully full.

Among people with bulimia nervosa, there is an increased frequency of depressive symptoms – low self-esteem, or emotional disorders – especially major depressive disorders. In most cases, mood swings begin at the same time as bulimia nervosa. In some people, however, the affective disorder precedes the onset of bulimia nervosa. The anxiety and depressive disorders usually disappear after bulimia nervosa is treated.

Bulimics maintain a relatively normal weight, are afraid to eat in public, often disappear in the bathroom after meals, drink large amounts of water and hide food in strange places.

Binge-eating begins in childhood/adolescence when the person starts eating large amounts of food at once and feeling guilty about it and is usually in response to a lack of control about external stressors in their environment or immediate family. Binge-eating does not involve vomiting, laxatives and fasting. Consequences of binge-eating (hyperphagia): difficulty concentrating, intestinal cramps, extra pounds/obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, the “yo-yo” effect.

If you know someone close who is affected by anorexia or bulimia, do not try to cure it yourself! Qualified therapists within the UK, experienced in this field, can help those suffering from eating disorders to regain a healthy relationship with food and themselves. We can help you find suitable treatment professionals through our web guide.

Eating disorders and addiction

Studies show that 35% of alcohol and drug users have eating disorders, compared to only 3% of the general population.

Eating disorders and substance abuse are chronic conditions that require a period of intensive care to be treated. Both involve uncontrolled desires to control and an excessive interest for the substance (drugs or food), both induce mood swings and denial.

Treatment for eating disorders

The purpose of treatment for an eating disorder is simple: gaining and maintaining normal body weight, changing attitude towards food, treating somatic and mental disorders, preventing relapses.

Guide to Rehab wants you to have the best recovery options available. Our treatment experts are fully committed to helping you find them in certain areas of the UK, such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Scotland. Patients with an associated eating disorder will be evaluated and treated, being constantly supported in the recovery process by qualified therapists. During treatment, patients’ eating habits and weight are closely monitored. At the same time, therapists can guide family members in understanding the patient’s disorders and learning new techniques to overcome problems and make the first step towards a new, healthy life.