What are the symptoms of an eating disorder?
There are several types of eating disorders, including (but not limited to) Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Broadly speaking, each of these eating disorders involve:
- Disordered eating behaviours, including overeating and undereating
- Compensatory behaviours (these symptoms are not present in Binge Eating Disorder)
- Extreme body dissatisfaction or distorted perception of the body
Symptoms of overeating include frequently eating until you feel uncomfortably full, eating at a rapid pace, feeling out of control (unable to resist starting eating or unable to stop eating), hiding your eating from others or eating alone, frequently eating when you are not hungry and feeling shame, embarrassment or guilt about what you are eating or how much you are eating.
Binge eating is a form of overeating in which the person eats an objectively large amount of food (an amount that other people would agree is large) in a short period of time (e.g. less than two hours), while experiencing a loss of control.
Symptoms of undereating include restricting:
- How much you eat (e.g. I can only eat one serve of dairy per day)
- When you eat (e.g. I can only eat after 1pm or I am not allowed to eat anything after 6pm)
- The types of food you eat (e.g. I am not allowed to eat carbohydrates or I am only allowed to eat fruit and vegetables)
Compensatory behaviours are used to try to control weight. They are usually used in attempt to cancel out a binge eating episode or to make up for breaking some kind of food rule.
Compensatory behaviours include:
- Self-induced vomiting
- Laxative or diuretic misuse
- Excessive exercise
Body image issues
Body image issues can occur in the context of an eating disorder or as a separate issue. Signs that you might be experiencing body dissatisfaction include:
- Preoccupation with your shape, appearance and weight
- Anxiety or fear about gaining weight
- Constant checking of your appearance in the mirror
- Frequently weighing yourself or avoiding weighing yourself altogether
- Hiding your body under loose clothing
- Frequent negative thoughts about your body including comparing yourself to others, emphasising your flaws and minimising your strengths, seeing your body in black and white ways (e.g. fat or thin, perfect or flawed) and general negative self-talk about your body and appearance
- Frequent feelings of shame, embarrassment or anxiety about your body
How we can help
At Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology we use evidence based treatments, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and compassion based approaches, to help people overcome body image issues and disordered eating. We can help you to improve your relationship with your food and feel more comfortable in your skin. To find out more about how we can help get in touch with our friendly Support Team here.