The first idea that comes to our mind when we hear that someone has an eating disorder is that they have a food related problem. Unfortunately, the issue is much more complex and more often than any other mental health issue can prove fatal. Eating disorders can coincide with depression, anxiety or other emotional distress so if you are concerned that you or someone you know may have an eating disorder it is advised to consult your GP to schedule an official evaluation.
WHAT CAUSES EATING DISORDERS?
There are various factors that may cause eating disorders, and as much as the prevailing belief is that society and culture are the most prominent influencers, recent studies have shown that genetics plays an important role, too. In most cases, the symptoms start in puberty when the body is undergoing fast changes, and as much as it has been thought that these issues affect more women than men, recent data from NHS has shown a 66% rise in cases of eating disorders among men. However, most women tend to overestimate their weight by 10% as they perceive their body parts as separate. Being thin is something that has become very fashionable, hence Wallis Simpson’s famous statement “You can never be too thin or too rich”. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking may have lethal consequences.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT SOMEONE MAY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER?
Here are the most common signs:
- Behaviour change
- Distorted views of the body image
- Frequent rushing to the bathroom after having food
- Tiredness and frequents naps
- Excessive exercise
- Poor concentration
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUNGER AND APPETITE
Here we need to remind ourselves of the difference between hunger, which is a physical need for food, and appetite, which is more complex. In the case of people with eating disorders, appetite is affected as it is a complex system that involves different hormones that circulate in the blood. Brain scans have shown that hunger signals can adapt so that the usual pleasure that one feels after having food can be replaced with being hungry.
TYPES OF EATING DISORDERS
Anorexia nervosa – characterised by the restriction of food intake or binge eating followed by purging behaviour, all leading to a significantly low body weight. Body mass index is an indicator of the severity of anorexia nervosa and can be
Mild: BMI of 17-17.9
Moderate: BMI of 16-16.9
Severe: BMI of 15-15.9
Extreme: BMI of less than 15
Bulimia nervosa – characterised by recurrent episodes of binge eating and followed by inappropriate methods of preventing weight gain like fasting, excessive exercising or vomiting. There is an increased food intake followed by sense of lack of control over how much one is eating within a certain period of time (e.g. within 2 hours)
Binge Eating disorder – characterised by recurrent episodes of binge eating without compensatory behaviours. There is a marked level of distress and lack of control over the amount of food intake, so it is also referred to as compulsive eating. These eating episodes can cause depression, shame and guilt. It is the most widespread of all eating disorders.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE-EFFECTS OF EATING DISORDERS?
In these instances, psychological and physical side-effects are numerous as the body is not receiving nutrition so apart from physical deterioration, cognitive processes are also affected.
HOW CAN HYPNOTHERAPY HELP WITH EATING DISORDERS?*
Eating disorders are very often associated with anxiety, depression and distorted self-image. Hypnotherapy can help with these symptoms and encourage the person to start implementing a more positive view on life and how they perceive themselves. Eating disorders may also arise from feelings of helplessness so being in control of one’s food intake can feel rewarding and actually encourage the habit. Hypnotherapy can remove the emotional charge from events that may have caused a trauma and also help the person to understand how their brain works so they learn how to stay in control. Hypnotherapy is beneficial on many levels as it shows the client the power of their mind and how they can help themselves to live not only a healthier lifestyle but also to build a more positive outlook on life.
To book an initial consultation and find out how hypnotherapy can help you with eating disorders, contact me via email or by calling 07827 061 637.
* Results may vary from person to person