What is an Eating Disorder?
When a person has an unhealthy attitude to food that takes over their life and makes them ill physically & / or mentally then it is likely that they will have an eating disorder.
There are lots of different eating disorders which include eating too much, not eating enough and obsessing over body shape and weight. There is no single cause. Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, genders, ethnic groups and backgrounds and are complex mental illnesses that can develop at any time – They are not a lifestyle choice or a “phase”.
Eating Disorders can cause significant harm and distress, but they can be treated. With the correct treatment recovery is possible.
In This Section
Common types of eating disorders
Anorexia Nervosa occurs when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible. The way they do this will be through over exercising, not eating enough food or both.
In Bulimia a person may lose control of how much they eat. They may binge on food by eating a lot within a short time and then will deliberately make themselves sick or use laxatives to stop themselves gaining weight. Again they may exercise too much or restrict what they eat.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
If a person regularly loses control of their eating and eats large portions of food until they are uncomfortably full then this could be a Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Overeating in this way will often lead to upset and guilt.
other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)
When the symptoms don’t match exactly with a diagnosis of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder then a person may be diagnosed with other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)
Symptoms of an eating disorder:
- Obsessively worrying about weight and body shape
- Turning down invitations to go out with family and friends when eating food will be involved
- eating very little food
- deliberately being sick or taking laxatives after eating
- over exercising
- having very strict habits or routines around food
- mood changes
- visiting the bathroom soon after meals
- hiding food
- eating in secret alone
Physical signs that you may notice:
- feeling cold, tired or dizzy
- problems with your digestion
- your weight being very high or very low for someone of your age and height
- not getting your period for women and girls
- obsessive compulsive traits
When to see your GP
If you think you have an eating disorder or are worried about your relationship with food, your body or your exercise habits then book an appointment to speak to your GP. It is very important to access treatment as early as possible, as earlier treatment means a greater chance of fully recovering from your eating disorder.
Your GP will be responsible for your initial diagnosis and should help to coordinate your care, at least in the early stages of treatment. If they determine you may have an eating disorder, they should refer you to an eating disorders specialist.
Word from our GP
These problems are very common in patients of all ages and help is needed as early as possible. If a patient or their relative / friend is suspecting an eating disorder please seek help from your GP. BEATS on line is also a good resource to look at. Social media can have a massive negative influence on people with eating disorders.
DR Gail Price, Pencoed Medical Centre
Cardiff and Vale UHB’s Eating Disorder team, together with their service users, Valley and Vale Community Arts and the Arts Council of Wales put this video together in 2019 to help raise awareness of eating disorders