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Eating Disorders and problems with Body Weight
Eating Disorders and Body Weight
If you do think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek our therapeutic counselling with working on an eating disorder. We have a planned counselling program that is tailored to your specific needs.
If you use any extreme weight control behaviours – even rarely – you should also see your General Practitioner for a full medical check-up, as your health might be compromised. Eating disorders are characterised by two key features: disturbed eating habits and disturbed weight control behaviours. Disturbed eating habits can include restricted food intake, strict dietary rules, preoccupation with food, binge eating and altered mealtime behaviours. Disturbed weight control behaviours may involve excessive exercise, vomiting, or the misuse of laxatives or diuretics (pills to reduce water retention). These eating habits and behaviours are termed ‘disturbed’ when they become harmful through extreme use.
It is important to realise that people with eating disorders have a high chance of experiencing physical and medical complications. The most serious problems are related to impaired functioning of the heart. Disordered eating and/or weight control behaviours may lead to a heart attack, coma or death. Therefore, if you have concerns that you or someone close to you has an eating disorder, it is important to take the issue seriously, and to seek medical advice.
More than half the people with eating disorders fall into the category of ‘Atypical Eating Disorder’. One of the most common disorders within the category is Binge Eating Disorder. About 6% of people suffer from Binge Eating Disorder. Nearly 50% of people who binge eat are men. Binge Eating Disorder differs from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa because extreme weight control behaviours (such as fasting, excessive exercise, vomiting or laxative misuse) are not used to try to compensate for the increased calories ingested during the binge.
Eating disorders cause both internal and external physical changes. External changes include loss of scalp hair, increase in body hair, dry skin and brittle nails. Internal damage can be caused by vomiting, laxative misuse and malnutrition. People with eating disorders often have electrolyte abnormalities and cardiovascular problems (heart problems as a result of weight loss and/or purging, which cause dizziness or fainting), gastrointestinal changes (digestive problems such as bloating, reflux and constipation), hormonal imbalances (loss of periods in females and low testosterone in males), infertility, immune deficiencies, bone density problems and dental damage.
An eating disorder influences more than just your body; it also affects the way you think and what you think about. Preoccupation with food and eating can develop to such an extent that it becomes almost impossible to concentrate on anything else. This obsession with food and eating (or not eating) often replaces previously enjoyed hobbies and activities of interest.