When you hear the term eating disorder, what comes to mind? Do you picture someone so dangerously thin that it’s obvious they’re struggling with an eating disorder? The thing about disordered eating is that it isn’t always visible. In fact, you may have someone in your life struggling with one and have no idea.
There is also a wide range of disordered eating that is overlooked. Behaviours such as binge eating, avoidant restrictive food intake, bulimia, and less commonly known disorders such as pica and rumination syndrome. They can affect people of all ages, body weights, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
Understanding an Eating Disorder
It’s important to note that a diagnosed eating disorder and undiagnosed disordered eating are not lifestyle choices, they can be life-threatening conditions with debilitating symptoms. Those who suffer from one often aren’t consciously aware of it and don’t fully understand how serious it can be.
Common symptoms of disordered eating include:
- Nutrition deficiency
- Poor sleep
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Muscle cramps
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Feelings of shame, guilt and low self-esteem
Those who struggle with a negative body image are more susceptible to an eating disorder. Their self-worth is related to their weight, which in turn is linked to food intake.
While Anorexia may be the most well-known disorder, it’s interesting to note that binge eating is the most common worldwide. This type of disordered eating is often associated with feelings of lack of control, sadness or guilt, eating in secret, and fluctuations in weight. Whether it’s restricting food intake or eating too much, there appears to be a common theme: stress and control.
Why is Eating Disorder Awareness Important?
To put it simply: raising awareness saves lives. Early intervention of disordered eating and eating disorders can help to prevent them from turning into a disease that overtakes a person’s life.
In order to effectively help those suffering from disordered eating, we as a society need to understand them fully. What societal expectations are put on body image? Do we promote body inclusivity in conversation and media? Do you see yourself and your body represented in everyday media? These are important questions to ask, however, it’s important to remember the cause of an eating disorder is complex.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health illness, with anorexia nervosa being the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. Third most common. These facts are alarming, especially since eating disorders can cause life-threatening illnesses and even worse, death.
How GSWC Can Help
Treatment for an eating disorder depends on various factors. Which type of disorder, symptoms, and separate health concerns. Fortunately, we have a large team of caring individuals ready to help.
We have a Certified Holistic Nutritionist on-site who brings a wide range of knowledge and excitement around food. All clients get an appointment with Sarah when they first enter our facility and can request a follow-up at any time. Additionally, Nutrition workshops are offered weekly for educational purposes and to answer any questions clients may have.
Our team of hardworking and compassionate clinicians offers many different therapeutic approaches such as DBT, CBT, Hypnotherapy, Hakomi, Somatic Counselling, EMDR, Group Therapy, and Nutritional Education. We believe in treating our clients as whole human beings and finding the right approach for each individual.
The pandemic has left many negative effects on society, to say the least. Unfortunately, this includes disordered eating and eating disorders, with the National Eating Disorder Association helpline reporting a 40% increase in call volume. Eating disorders thrive in isolation, and the structure of daily routines became a casualty of the pandemic.
Additionally, the isolation and lack of social contact combined with heightened stress had a severe impact on mental health, especially for those in recovery. So where do we go from here? First, try to learn more about disordered eating, eating disorders and the signs of someone struggling with one. Check on your friends and family, especially those who live alone. And of course, if you or someone you know is struggling, offer support or reach out for help.