Understanding Eating Disorders

To get a glimpse into the mind of someone suffering from an eating disorder, read some of these comments our clients have shared on our blog:

“I remember deeply wanting the help, but at the same time, I became incredibly nervous about what was about to happen”

“My eating disorder thrives off not wanting to be noticed and to be alone, but also stops me from having help”

“I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to recover from my eating disorder, all I knew was I couldn’t live my life the way I had been anymore.”

“I don’t want to view myself in this way, looking at my body as if it’s the enemy. An enemy I am bent on destroying. I want to look at it like a friend. Problem is we don’t recognise each other anymore. Who am I? I can’t even answer. I don’t know.”

A universal truth

To put yourself in a sufferer’s shoes, ask, as The Recover Clinic owner and Clinical Director Emmy does:

“How many of us have pursued something even though something deep inside us tells us not to?  The answer is all of us.”

You might think it would be obvious if someone has an eating disorder but it isn’t – and for a long time it may not even be obvious to the person who has it. An eating disorder can simply become a way of life. You can still function, have a job, social life, sports, holidays… but it does not mean you are okay.

Why do people suffer from eating disorders?

There are so many reasons why you might suffer from an eating disorder. You only have to read the client stories on our blog to get an idea of the variety of underlying issues that surface in this way.

However, there are some common themes.

A need for control

Reverting to a childlike state often helps sufferers regain a feeling of safety and reassurance. By denying hunger or rejecting food (for example, by purging), they have control over changes to their body, a control which they may not have in any other area of their lives.

At Recover, we work with our female clients to help them to accept, nurture and develop a healthy sense of femininity and womanhood, and to take control of their future in a constructive way.

To find out more about what an eating disorder involves and the different types of eating disorders, read on.

What are the most common eating disorders?

The best known eating disorders are

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • Bulimia

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. If you suffer from Anorexia you are likely to be obsessed by thoughts about your weight and appearance and experience compulsive behaviours around food. There are two ‘sub-types’ of Anorexia: restricting and binge/purging.

Read more about the symptoms and treatment of Anorexia

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or ‘compulsive eating’?

Binge Eating Disorder or compulsive eating is an illness that affects millions of people and can have a devastating effect on your physical and emotional well-being. If you suffer from this illness you will usually have

  • a compulsive relationship with food and
  • periods of overeating or bingeing that are followed by
  • feelings of guilt, shame and despair

If you suffer with binge eating or compulsive eating and are desperate to stop but don’t know how, you may not realise that you have a clinically recognised eating disorder for which you need to seek treatment or therapy.

Read more about the symptoms and treatment of Binge Eating Disorder

Not so different: Anorexia vs Binge Eating

Anorexia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder (BED) appear to be on opposite ends of the eating disorder spectrum.  BED is about the (over) consumption of food; Anorexia is about the denial of food. However, both are mental illnesses that revolve around

  • a preoccupation with weight
  • an obsession with appearance
  • low self-esteem
  • negative self-beliefs

Those who suffer with BED or Anorexia Nervosa tend to judge themselves by what they eat and look like and their ability to control what they eat and look like. Both use food as a coping mechanism for deeper problems, feelings and emotions.

“I’ve never met someone suffering with BED that hasn’t tried to heavily restrict their food on a regular basis”
Emmy Brunner

At Recover we try to address these deeper problems, feelings and emotions at the core of the eating disorder and help sufferers through their journey to reach freedom, happiness and peace.

What is Bulimia?

Obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours around food are the key traits of Bulimia. You may be trapped within a binge-purge cycle: over-eating and self-induced vomiting.

Many sufferers will show signs of self-harming behaviours throughout other areas of their lives, from drug and alcohol abuse to relationship problems.

Read more about the symptoms and treatment of Bulimia

What is OFSED or EDNOS?

OSFED simply stands for Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. This used to be referred to as EDNOS or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

This is the diagnosis you may get if you have some but not all of the symptoms of one of the recognised eating disorders as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

For example, you might have a very negative self-image, be drastically restricting what you eat and losing weight rapidly but still be menstruating and not technically underweight for your height – this could result in an OFSED diagnosis.

Often this is because your disorder has been caught in the early stages which should give you a better chance of recovery if you receive the right treatment.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

If you have Body Dysmorphic Disorder, also known as BDD, you may suffer from persistent negative thoughts about one or several parts of your face or body.

These thoughts cause you significant emotional distress and can lead to depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, social isolation, self-harm and in extreme cases suicide.

Read more about the symptoms and treatment of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

What is Orthorexia?

Not yet officially recognised as an eating disorder, Orthorexia sees the sufferer consumed by the drive to eat ‘healthily’.

If you have Orthorexia, you may have started to follow a diet such as Paleo or Gluten-Free (without a diagnosed medical reason) and now feel you have to stick to it rigidly, becoming anxious and distressed if you don’t.

You may also read food labels obsessively – worrying that you will contaminate your body with impure or unprocessed food.

Find out more about the symptoms and treatment of Orthorexia

Get in touch

If you think you could be suffering from an eating disorder or BDD, call us today on 0845 603 6530 to speak to a member of our team or fill in our short contact form.