Eating disorders

The term “eating disorder” refers to a complex, potentially life-threatening condition, characterised by severe disturbances in eating behaviours.

Eating disorders can be seen as a way of coping with emotional distress, or as a symptom of underlying issues.

Important things to know about eating disorders are:

  • food and eating ┬áis only part of the equation, the focus on food is a symptom of underlying emotional difficulties
  • people can and do recover
  • eating disorders can affect anyone.

Young people experiencing an eating disorder may:

  • have low self-esteem (it may not be obvious, as people with eating disorders are often ‘high achievers’)
  • show over-concern with body shape, weight and size, and an obsession with food
  • see thinness as a magical solution to problems, while weight gain is feared
  • view their body as larger than it actually is (distorted body image)
  • have problems around control
  • find it hard to talk about their feelings and to deal with conflict
  • be depressed and may become isolated or experience mood swings.
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