About Eating Issues

The Eating Issues Centre chooses to use the language of eating issues over disorders in acknowledgement of a broader perspective of people’s struggles with eating.

Gender, social and cultural influences impact everyone. Many people have had a preoccupation with food and weight to varying degrees in their lifetime. Recovery from body image and eating issues is possible for anyone at any stage, and seeking support as early as possible is highly recommended.

At one end of the continuum we have healthy eating and acceptance of body shape and size. At the other end of the continuum is disordered eating, such as anorexia, bulimia and binge/compulsive eating. In between sits fear of fatness, denial of appetite, emotional eating, exaggeration of body size, depression and rigid dieting.

 

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People accessing services at The Eating Issues Centre do not need a referral from their GP or a formal diagnosis. The Eating Issues Centre sees people who identify with food restriction, binge-eating, purging, excessive exercise, or other unspecified eating issues. We work across the spectrum to support people to develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

There are a number of recognised eating issues and disorders that over time individuals may move between, including:

 

Anorexia Nervosa

Characterised by significant weight loss due to restriction of food or purging, often with serious medical complications.

Individuals experience intense fear of gaining weight even though underweight, distortion of body image, refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight and amenorrhoea (loss of menstrual periods over three consecutive months).

Please note an assessment by a medical practitioner and regular medical monitoring is recommended as part of your treatment.

See NEDC Anorexia Nervosa Fact Sheet here

Bulimia Nervosa

Identified as an eating disorder where the individual has recurrent episodes of binge eating where they either (1) eat an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat in a discrete time period or (2) experience a sense of lack of control during the episode.

The individual then experiences recurrent inappropriate compensatory behaviour in order to prevent weight gain that may or may not include excessive exercise, use of laxatives, diuretics, diet pill abuse, self-induced vomiting or fasting. Individuals may or may not purge. These behaviours occur, on average, at least twice a week for three months.

Please note an assessment by a medical practitioner and regular medical monitoring is recommended as part of your treatment.

See NEDC Bulimia Nervosa Fact Sheet here

Compulsive or binge eating

Similar to bulimia nervosa with frequent episodes of excessive eating but without compensatory or purging behaviours.

It is often accompanied by a sense of loss of control and, in many cases, weight gain.

See NEDC Binge Eating Disorder Fact Sheet here

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

The experience of being overly concerned with defects, either real or imagined, in a person’s appearance to the extent that the time spent thinking about or looking at their perceived defect interferes with daily functioning and can lead to avoiding social interactions.

A person experiencing BDD may be extremely critical of their mirror image, physique or self-image, even though there may be no noticeable disfigurement or defect. Those suffering from BDD most commonly feel critical of one of the following: their face, hair, skin and nose.

Though not fatal in and of itself, this disorder can result in serious distress and severe isolation and may co-occur with other mental health concerns need factsheet- TEIC to source

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

Other disordered eating patterns do not have a clear-cut diagnosis.

For example, anorexia and bulimia may co-exist, or one may develop into the other, or some people may have a very restricted food intake without fulfilling all of the criteria for anorexia nervosa.

In some cases not all the criteria are met for diagnosis of a disorder, such as a female may meet the criteria for anorexia nervosa but continue to menstruate or an individual may binge less than twice a week. These conditions are no less serious, although intervention and attention are still required.

See NEDC Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders Fact Sheet here

Gender and Eating Issues

Eating issues are often portrayed as an issue affecting females; however studies now suggest that up to a quarter of individuals diagnosed with eating disorders are male.

Males experience many of the same issues as females regarding body ideals and the need to be in control.

See NEDC Eating Disorders in Males here