Eating Disorders / Disordered Eating

What are eating disorders / disordered eating?

Eating disorders can be severe and harmful mental illnesses, in which body shape and food become a self-destructive fixation for the affected person. Eating, exercise and body weight become the focus of the person. It is estimated that one million Australians have an eating disorder, and that eating disorders affect 13% of females. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognises four eating disorders:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorders
  • Other Eating Disorders.

On the other hand, disordered eating is characterised by a variety of abnormal eating behaviors that, by themselves, do not meet the criteria for diagnosis of a recognised eating disorder. This does not mean that it is less dangerous – disordered eating can include common behaviors of eating disorders, such as: chronic restrained eating, compulsive eating, binge eating, with associated loss of control.

What are the symptoms of eating disorders / disordered eating?

The major symptoms of eating disorders and disordered eating are:

  • over-evaluation of weight and shape
  • body checking
  • disinhibited eating
  • binge eating
  • excessive exercising,
  • dieting
  • purging (vomiting or laxative abuse)
  • changes in food preferences (such as, avoidance of eating dairy or “fatty” food),
  • obsessiveness in preparing food, and avoidance of social situations that involves food (such as, tendency to avoid restaurants and tendency to eat in isolation).

Research has also linked eating disorders with high levels of depression and anxiety, and low self-esteem. Eating disorders can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to manage day-to-day life.

How Seed Psychology can help you

Seed Psychology offers psychological sessions for the treatment of persons with an eating disorder, or for friends and family who are supporting a loved one through this difficult time. These sessions aim to identify the psychological aspects that have contributed to the onset and the maintenance of the eating disorder.

Through psychotherapeutic techniques (including cognitive restructuring, personal development exercises, relaxation techniques) we will work with the person to reduce feelings of inadequacy, negative body image, shame and guilt and help them to take control over their life.

Written by Dr Chiara Paganini, Clinical Psychologist at Seed Psychology