An eating disorder involves an abnormal relationship with food — either eating less or over-eating —with negative effects on one’s physical or mental health
The most well-known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. They both include behaviours such as laxative use, self-induced vomiting and over-exercising. Both involve an excessive desire to be thin, but where an anorexic will dramatically cut their calorie intake to the point of starvation, bulimia usually involves a cycle of binge-eating and vomiting
Binge-eating disorder is characterised by eating more frequently and/or in much larger portions than is normal or healthy, inevitably causing obesity and serious health risks.
You or someone close to you may have an eating disorder if they:
There are many factors that combine to cause an eating disorder. These include:
Creating positive role models for oneself and others with regard to body shape, weight and food can be pivotal in preventing an eating disorder in young people. You can also take action to minimise stress and depression, which can sometimes result in compensatory eating. Identify any possible genetic risk factors for eating disorders and other related illnesses such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. Learn about healthy eating behaviours and try to develop positive habits and thoughts around food and exercise.
Especially in the case of anorexia nervosa, where the person may be dangerously underweight or malnourished, professional help is very important. Anorexia can cause long-term damage to bones and overall growth and can even lead to premature death. If someone close to you has the signs of an eating disorder, speak to them and encourage them strongly to seek help.
Psychology Melbourne has a number of psychologists who specialise in the field of eating disorders.