The signs that might indicate an eating disorder, and what to do.

Food can be one of life’s great pleasures. But if – perhaps for deep-seated emotional reasons – we are unable to regulate our intake,  we need to seek professional help.

Obesity is a well-known threat to health, but inadequate intake and low weight can also be a very serious health problem. I am going to concentrate on the latter problem today.

Take action – in other words, seek professional help – if  your weight is significantly lower than it should be, remembering that you may not see the problem for yourself. Trust friends and family if they express concern about your weight. But you can spot danger signs yourself.

Seek help from your GP, a psychologists or a therapist if you know you are maintaining your weight at a certain level by taking laxatives, induced vomiting or over-exercising. Any of the foregoing measures might keep weight off even if you are  binge eating – that is, eating large amounts of food at a sitting and finding it difficult to stop. Therapeutic help can be accessed on the NHS through GPs or privately.

From my work, I know that the following may be  factors that contribute to eating disorders, and they are therefore signs to look out for:

Over evaluation of shape and weight. Most adults with eating issues will over-focus on their weight and shape.

Excessive concern about food intake. Some people tend be overly concerned about the details of their eating, noting, for example, exact calorie intake, their food choices and when they eat.

Dietary restraint. Some people  impose their own, sometimes erroneous, judgement on what can and cannot be eaten safely.

Dietary restriction. This can mean reluctance to consume the calories their bodies need, i.e. under-eating.

Events or mood triggers which encourage binge eating. This is means that disturbing events, circumstances and moods influence can influence a persons eating patterns.

Understanding the reasons can be an important aspect of recovery, but if you are concerned that you may be suffering from an eating disorder, your first action has to be urgent contact with a healthcare professional.

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