Disordered eating, also referred to as “eating disorders,” is a behavioral condition that is characterized by disturbances in eating behaviors. These behaviors are usually associated with distressing thoughts and emotional patterns.
Disordered eating can be a very serious condition that affects someone’s physical and psychological functioning and well-being. The most common forms of disordered eating include:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge eating disorder
- Rumination disorder
What Causes Disordered Eating to Develop?
It is believed that roughly 5% of the population is affected by disordered eating. The conditions typically develop in adolescence and young adulthood. Once developed, people can show similar behaviors like those seen in drug and alcohol addicts.
There are different reasons why someone may develop disordered eating. Until very recently, Western cultures have glorified thinness. You could never pick up a magazine or see a television program without body-shaming messaging. While we are now seeing a definite push for acknowledging and respecting all shapes and sizes, many young people still feel the pressure of having the “perfect” body. And this feeds into someone’s lack of self-worth.
Many young people feel the need to please others, namely their parents. Achieving perfection is in every facet of their life, including their looks, they believe, will make the adults in their life happy with them.
And finally, many adolescents living in a dysfunctional setting, either because of parental addiction or anger issues, feel they have no control over their life. Disordered eating gives these young people a sense of control because they are controlling what and how much food they consume and/or how much they exercise.
If you or a loved one are suffering from disordered eating, please know treatment is available. Talk therapy is one of the most common and effective treatments for disordered eating. A therapist can provide you or your loved one with the tools and knowledge to uncover why your eating patterns developed and how you can change your behaviors.
While change won’t happen overnight, it will happen. And you can discover what life feels like when you are free of the emotional turmoil that causes your issues with food.
If you’d like to speak with someone about treatment options, please reach out to me.