It is Eating Disorder Awareness Week this week (February 27 to March 3). Eating disorders are complex conditions and the idea is to raise awareness of this complex problem that can seriously affect your physical, mental, and emotional health.
In the UK, more than 700,000 people are affected by an eating disorder. Could you be one of them? We all have our own very individual relationship to food, and it can be very difficult to recognise that yours may be causing you problems. How do you know if it’s time to seek help?
Eating disorders include binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, distorted body image, and obesity, and recognising any form of disordered thinking around food is extremely difficult. The way we eat, exercise, and think about our bodies is all so personal that it can be extremely difficult to see when any of it has become distorted or is causing you problems.
Eating disorders thrive on shame, which makes it hard for someone suffering from one to ask for help. You might feel too ashamed to talk to anyone about it, which keeps you trapped in your patterns of behaviour. Yet our Eating Disorders Counsellors tell us that early intervention really makes a difference, and the earlier a client refers themselves to them the greater the likelihood of success and recovery.
So what are the clues: How do you spot an eating disorder in the early stages?
The first warning signs will most likely be psychological or behavioural such as secrecy, hoarding and social withdrawal, but here are some things to look out for: If you answer ‘yes’ to more than three of these questions it might be time to talk to someone about your relationships to food, exercise or your body image.
- Do you feel not entirely in control when you think about food?
- Is your first response to any sadness or difficulty to turn to (or away from) food?
- Can you always recognise when you are hungry or do you sometimes eat following other prompts?
- You have a minor injury or the weather is terrible do you cancel your plans to exercise or would you go anyway?
- Is your first reaction to being asked to share a meal with someone panic or anxiety?
- Are you obsessive about what you eat and when?
- Have you ever lied about, or tried to hide from someone, what you just ate?
- Are you very sensitive to people’s comments about your body shape or exercise habits?
- Do you frequently check your weight or image in the mirror?
If you, or someone close to you, feels they would like support with issues around food, exercise or body-image then therapy could be an option for you. We have a team of Eating Disorders counsellors who will be able to help. Just call 020 8673 4545 or email [email protected] for a confidential appointment.