Here's What You Need To Know About Eating Disorders
It's Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and it's surprising how much people still don't know.
So this week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week – a week set up to raise awareness about what eating disorders are, how they work and to debunk all the (many) myths and misconceptions surrounding them.
Cos knowledge = power, and we have a much better chance of fighting eating disorders if we all know how to spot them and how we can get help if we do.
What are eating disorders?
When someone has an eating disorder, they have an unhealthy and difficult relationship with food. Eating disorders are not to be underestimated – they are serious mental illnesses – and they come in various forms. There’s anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and other sorts classified as eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS).
It’s possible for someone to develop more than one eating disorder at a time, or for the type of their eating disorder to change over time.
How common are they?
A report by Beat in 2015 found that more than 725,000 people have an eating disorder in just the UK alone.
1 in 250 women and 1 in 2000 men will experience anorexia nervosa in their lives, and bulimia is around three times more common. Eating disorders are the biggest killer out of all the types of mental illness, and one in five who are most severely affected end up dying through physical repercussions or through suicide.
Who gets them and why?
The demographic who are most likely to get an eating disorder are girls aged 12 – 20. However anybody can get an eating disorder regardless of gender, cultural background or age. Binge eating, for example, is most commonly found in people aged between 30-40 years old.
Eating disorders can develop for a great many reasons, and can be determined by psychological, physical, social and genetic factors. Although a lot of people think eating disorders are purely to do with an obsession with losing weight or looking a certain way, they are actually a lot more complex than that, and are often linked to depression, anxiety, stress and difficult family relationships.
There is no formula for developing an eating disorder. That’s why it’s important for everyone to watch out for key signs and be wary that people don’t have to look a certain way to have an eating disorder. Better indicators of whether someone has an eating disorder is how they act.
What are some key symptoms to look out for?
It’s important to watch out for eating disorder symptoms, as the sooner an eating disorder is diagnosed and you seek help, the quicker and easier the recovery can be.
One of the symptoms is when someone is being secretive or evasive about eating in public, like repeatedly saying they have already eaten or will eat somewhere else instead of agreeing to eat with you. Other signs are when someone is weighing themselves repeatedly, making negative comments about their weight, and cooking complicated recipes but not eating the food themselves.
What can you do?
If you’re worried that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, Mind, Beat and the NHS page on eating disorders have great resources and information on how and when to get help. Although having an eating disorder is immensely difficult and can affect people for a long time, a full recovery is entirely possible – the sooner you get help, the more likely you are to have a full recovery.
For some active things you can do to help the cause, click here.
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