What are Eating Disorders

Some people suffer from problems in terms of how and/or what they eat.

In reality, there are many such problems though they are often referred to collectively as “eating disorders”.

Does ‘normal eating’ mean anything?

It is impossible to define exactly what and how people should eat. That can vary hugely by cultural background, the immediate living environment, their affluence or deprivation levels, the availability of certain foodstuffs and especially, each individual’s unique genetic makeup.

Even so, there are some factors that typically apply to most definitions of eating disorder:

  • it usually implies a pattern of eating or post-eating behaviours that if continued, may lead to a significant health problem;
  • the condition is not usually caused by an underlying physical health problem. So, a loss of appetite resulting from medication wouldn’t usually be categorised as an eating disorder;
  • typically, eating disorders suggest a behavioural pattern that is not or not fully under the person’s conscious control. People following an overly severe diet to lose weight wouldn’t normally be described as having an eating disorder. The differentiating factor would be whether or not the person concerned showed they were capable of stopping and reverting to a normal diet.


Examples of eating disorders

There are many types of such disorders with some of the best-known being:

  • anorexia (or anorexia nervosa). This usually means that the sufferer is compulsively dieting when they are in fact at or already below, what would be termed a healthy weight. The compulsive dieting aspect of this can sometimes arise in tune with excessive exercising with the objective being to lose yet more weight. This condition is most common in younger females but women over 40 can suffer it, as can some younger males;
  • This usually involves someone binge eating, following up by vomiting the food just eaten (that may be consciously or subconsciously initiated). Variations on this condition’s symptoms include again excessive exercising or the taking of strong laxatives. Bulimia is mainly found in younger women and girls;
  • compulsive eating. As the name suggests, this involves the sufferer having uncontrollable urges to eat, even when they’re not hungry or may just have finished a meal. It can be characterised by secret eating when alone and attempts to hide from others the true volume of food being consumed (lying and hiding the evidence of eating). It is found in both males and females of any age:
  • extreme faddy eating. This condition’s symptoms usually include someone refusing, for reasons they can’t explain, entire types or families of foodstuff. In minor cases, this is not usually a problem but it can grow over time until sufferers have a very limited diet due to refusing to eat anything apart from one or two foodstuffs. This is fairly common in younger children but almost always clears itself over a short period of time. In teenagers and adults, the effects can be longer-lasting, expansive and therefore more serious. It is more common in females.


Any of these eating disorders may result in very serious detrimental health effects that can even lead to death if left untreated.

These symptoms should never be ignored and expert medical advice is always required.


All eating disorders are categorised as being mental health issues.

They usually arise due to one or more of the following:

  • self-image problems (i.e., “I’m too fat”);
  • a lack of self-confidence, self-worth perceptions and/or personal self-loathing;
  • emotional abuse from family members or partners;
  • peer group pressures;
  • emotional traumas (e.g., relationship break-ups);
  • social and advertising pressures to conform to ‘norms’ in appearance;
  • sometimes, other mental health issues.

Treatment usually involves counselling and various forms of behavioural therapies. These should not be undertaken by amateurs or self-treatment and a medically qualified specialist should always be involved in both diagnosis and remedial treatments.   If you are in this situation and want to move on, click this link https://www.dbest.com.au/mind-health/ and take the quiz.  Our group of professional counselors will help you with your journey towards healing.