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Eating Disorders Awareness Week

I had no idea there are as many as 1.6 million people in the UK that are affected by eating disorders. I suppose most people will assume they are just a fad or a diet gone wrong, they are in fact a serious mental illness.

Eating disorders are not gender specific they can affect a broad spectrum of people men, woman, children and adults from of all types of backgrounds and ethnic cultures.

I have learnt that eating disorders are a way of coping with difficult times in your life and unfamiliar emotions like anger, sadness, fear and guilt all compound this complex disorder. You are not born with this disorder, some event within your life may have triggered it due to the emotions you were feeling at that time.

There are 3 main types of eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa
This can stem from low esteem and the inability to cope with everyday worries. It involves skipping meals, over exercising and cutting out specific food types. People who suffer this disorder may find ways to harm themselves as a punishment if they don’t lose enough weight, or they could look to other methods like alcohol and drug abuse.

Bulimia Nervosa
This disorder is linked to stress and emotional problems. Sufferers constantly worry about their calorie intake and then ways of getting rid of the food after eating. Bulimia is more common than Anorexia but it is a more secretive illness and done behind closed doors by over eating, making yourself sick or starving yourself for days at a time and then the cycle starts again.

Binge Eating Disorder
If you binge eat it may be because you feel depressed or inadequate because you can’t control your eating, this in turn can lead to more over eating and weight gain. I found the difference with this disorder to Bulimia is that you do not try to get rid of the food, people who suffer from this think about food all the time, but are just unable to control the amount of food they consume.

People affected by eating disorders need professional help and support to help them through these difficult times. I have realised there is no stigma or shame in suffering with these disorders, it is about everyday distress and learning how to deal with your emotions and the relationship you have with food.

Eating disorders are beatable and can be beaten with the right care, support, guidance and the desire to live a normal life.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week is 11-17 February 2013 and there is lots more information on the Beat website.

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