Eating Disorder Counselling – Eating disorders are an increasingly common form of mental illness, and many experts believe that the increased prevalence of “touched up” media showing celebrities and models with seemingly perfect bodies has contributed to this increase. However, eating disorders are not simply the result of extreme attempts to alter your body to fit an unrealistic standard. Individuals can engage in disordered eating as a way to cope with intense emotions or feelings that might otherwise seem insurmountable. An eating disorder can look incredibly different from person to person, but all centre around an intense control of food intake, usually due to other aspects of life feeling uncontrollable, or a warped perception of individual body image. Although eating disorders are present across all genders and ages, they are most prevalent in young, teenage girls. The most common types of eating disorders include, but are not limited to: 

  • Anorexia nervosa: Individuals suffering from anorexia often go to extreme measures to decrease their weight, including consuming very limited amounts of food and excessively exercising. This can be a result of a distorted body image, also known as body dysmorphia, where the individual perceives themselves to be grossly overweight, even if that is not the case. 
  • Bulimia: While people with anorexia often limit how much they eat to the point of starvation, those with bulimia typically engage in cycles of binging and purging. When binging, they consume large amounts of food uncontrollably, and then purge so as not to gain weight by making themselves sick or consuming laxatives. 
  • Binge eating disorder: These individuals lose control over their food intake, consuming food beyond the point of feeling full. This can be a result of an unhealthy coping mechanism or restricting food intake for the majority of the day until they lose control and binge eat. These eating patterns disrupt the normal body rhythms of fullness and hunger, perpetuating the disordered eating cycle. 

Disordered eating warning signs 

Often individuals who are dealing with patterns of disordered eating do not immediately perceive that they have a problem, or that there is anything out of the ordinary with their behaviour. However, eating disorders can cause severe health problems due to the lack of nutrition or the gastrointestinal distress from purging. Many individuals suffering from eating disorders do not show many outward signs of disordered eating and might not display the stereotypical extreme weight loss that many people expect. It is important to know and understand the warning signs of disordered eating in order to recognize if you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder. This will allow you to seek help as soon as possible and decrease the potential negative effects from these issues. 

Common symptoms of eating disorders:

  • Excessive preoccupation with weight and/or body appearance and shape 
  • Strict routines involving food intake 
  • Desire to be alone when eating 
  • Constantly exercising in order to “make up for” eating 
  • Purging, or making yourself sick after eating 
  • Binge eating or eating too little 
  • Mood and personality changes such as anxiety and depression 
  • Lethargy
  • Physical changes, including rapid weight gain/loss, bloating, constipation 

Eating Disorder Counselling

Although disordered eating can have severe effects on an individual’s physical health and mental wellbeing, the good news is that counselling and treatment has excellent outcomes for those dealing with eating disorders and most people are able to reach a full recovery. At Horizon Plymouth, our expert counsellors can help you understand and dive into the reasons behind your disordered eating behaviour and explore ways to cope with these feelings in a healthier manner. Seeing help for eating disorders can help you unpack your struggles in order to accept and embrace a happier, healthier you. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to Horizon Plymouth today to schedule your initial consultation and begin your restorative journey towards healing. 

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