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Thread: DWD MH Factsheet #7 - Eating Problems Page 2

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    Princess Sparkles Paula's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
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    DWD MH Factsheet #7 - Eating Problems Page 2


    Anorexia is where people are determined to continue losing weight beyond what is healthy by significantly restricting calories (sometimes fasting), over exercising, or using drugs to suppress appetite or speed up digestion. Sufferers often see themselves differently to how others see them and the illness often has its roots in low self esteem, a distorted self image and feelings of extreme distress. Anorexia can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background but more commonly develops in adolescence or early adulthood.

    The impact of anorexia on the body can include, amongst other symptoms: weight loss; underdevelopment in young people; irregular or no periods; thinning of the bones (osteoporosis); brain, kidney or bowel problems. It is a potentially life threatening illness.


    Bulimia is where sufferers are caught in a cycle of bingeing on large quantities of food and then purging (vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting or excessive exercise). The illness may have its roots in poor self-esteem, life trauma and negative self-image. Often, sufferers see themselves as larger than they really are. Bulimia can affect anyone but usually develops in adolescence or young adulthood.

    Bulimia can affect the body by causing, amongst other things: dehydration; irregular or no periods; through vomiting - damage to the teeth and throat; through use of laxatives - IBS, stretched colon, constipation and heart disease. It is a potentially life threatening illness.

    Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

    Binge Eating Disorder is where sufferers eat large amounts of food over a short period of time. The binge might be planned (often with ‘special’ binge foods) or spontaneous. Rather than being an enjoyable experience or overindulging, people with BED are usually very distressed by the behaviour, are often unable to stop and some even feel disconnected. Triggers for a binge episode can include feelings of distress, sadness, loneliness or anger. Anyone can be affected by BED but it is more common in adults.

    BED can affect the body by causing, amongst other things: weight gain, leading to obesity and associated health issues (eg diabetes, high blood pressure or joint problems); feeling nauseous; acid reflux; IBS.

    Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

    OSFED is becoming a more common diagnosis. It is a diagnosis of an eating disorder that does not fit all the criteria for a diagnosis of specifically anorexia, bulimia or BED. This does not mean it’s a less serious diagnosis, sufferers still need support and treatment.

    “Some specific examples of OSFED include:

    Atypical anorexia – where someone has all the symptoms of anorexia, but their weight remains within a “normal” range.
    Bulimia nervosa (of low frequency and/or limited duration) – where someone has all of the symptoms of bulimia, except the binge/purge cycles don’t happen as often or over as long a period of time as doctors would expect.
    Binge eating disorder (of low frequency and/or limited duration) – where someone has all of the symptoms of binge eating disorder, but the binges don’t happen as often or over as long a period of time as doctors would expect.
    Purging disorder – where someone purges, for example by being sick or using laxatives, to affect their weight or shape, but not as part of binge/purge cycles.
    Night eating syndrome – where someone repeatedly eats at night, either after waking up from sleep, or by eating a lot of food after their evening meal.”

    Other eating problems include:

    Rumination disorder: regularly regurgitating food, re-chewing, re-swallow and spitting out food
    Pica: eating things that aren’t food
    Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): avoiding food because of anxiety about the process of eating


    The GP should made an automatic referral to eating disorder specialists. BEAT have produced guidance ( to help when going to the appointment.

    Treatment includes:
    - Guided self-help programmes (for bulimia and BED)
    - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy specifically tailored for eating disorders (CBT-ED). There are alternatives for Bulimia Nervosa (CBT-BN) and for BED (CBT-BED)
    - Family therapy

    More information on available treatment can be found here (


    NHS - Eating Disorders

    Mind - Eating Problems

    The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

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