This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which is led by BEAT, who are a charity who support people living with eating disorders and those supporting them.
Eating disorders are characterised by severe disturbances in eating behaviour. They are emotional disorders which focus on food and over-concern with body size and shape as a way of coping with problems.
There are various types of eating disorders:
This is when someone persistently restricts what they eat leading to significant weight loss. The reason for this is either an intense fear of gaining weight, or persistent behaviour that interferes with weight gain. People suffering from Anorexia Nervosa usually see themselves as being a lot bigger than they actually are, so therefore do not recognise the seriousness of their low body weight.
Some people will just restrict what they are eating, whereas others may binge eat and/or purge (i.e. self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives or diuretics).
This is when someone binge eats, which is characterised by eating a larger amount of food than most people would eat in a discrete period of time, and a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode. The person will then recurrently use compensatory behaviour in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of medications, fasting, or excessive exercise. People can be overweight when they have Bulimia Nervosa.
Binge Eating Disorder
This is when someone has recurrent episodes of binge eating, which causes distress. Binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months. Binge eating disorder causes someone to have a lack of control over what they are eating.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (AFRID)
This is a new diagnosis, previously known as ‘Selective Eating Disorder’. This is when someone has an eating or feeding disturbance (e.g. Lack of interest in eating or food; avoidance based on the feel, smell or taste of food) as manifested by a persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs associated with one or more of the following:
- Significant weight loss
- Significant nutritional deficiency
- Dependence on interal feeding or nutritional supplements
- Marked interference with psychosocial functioning
People with AFRID do not normally feel distressed about their body shape, or fear fatness.
Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)
Someone who is diagnosed as having OSFED will present with feeding or eating behaviours that cause clinically significant distress and impairment in areas of functioning, but do not meet the full criteria for any of the other feeding and eating disorders.
Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED)
When someone’s behaviours cause clinically significant distress/impairment of functioning, but they do not meet the full criteria of any of the Feeding or Eating Disorders. This category may be used by clinicians where they chooses not to specify why criteria are not met, including where there may be insufficient information to make a more specific diagnosis, for example someone presenting in A&E.
There are many factors that can contribute to someone having an eating disorder, such as biological factors, genetic factors, personality traits, sociocultural factors, puberty, family history, stress and adverse life events.
Keep an eye on the SU’s Facebook page over the next week for more information about eating disorders and the effects they can have.
If you or someone you know is being affected by an eating disorder please contact an SU advisor (email@example.com) for support, or visit https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/ for more information.
Wellbeing Officer - 2019/20.