What is an eating disorder?

Mental Health   ›   Eating Disorders  ›   What is an eating disorder?

Are you worried about your relationship with food and your weight? Do you feel ashamed when you eat or adopt extreme behaviours around food to make yourself feel better? Learn more about the symptoms of eating disorders, how these disorders develop, and whether they can be treated.

Eating disorders fall under the broad umbrella of mental health disorders. A person with an eating disorder is obsessed with their weight, body image, and food. These thoughts are so intense that they lead to unhealthy eating habits that can sometimes become dangerous. There is a great deal of pain behind these behaviours.


Although they on average affect girls and women more, eating disorders can happen to anyone.


An eating disorder is not…

  • Changes in how much you eat because you feel preoccupied, stressed, or sad. Our emotions affect the way we eat, and it is normal to see some changes over short periods of time. However, if changing the way you eat is your only way of managing your emotions, then it's important to talk about it.
  • Occasionally having difficulty with healthy eating, dieting, or being concerned with your body or weight. This happens to most people at some point in their lives. You may still feel the need to talk about it when it does occur, and you have the right to do so.
  • Related to someone’s weight. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to suffer from anorexia and not be underweight. On the other hand, a person may be thin and not suffer from this disorder.


Can eating disorders be treated?

Of course, provided that you get the support you need. Consult with a health care professional who will know how to support and help you. Don’t give up, even if it seems to take a long time and isn’t always easy. Once you’re completely healed, you’ll finally be able to focus on your dreams and goals, and you’ll achieve them much more easily!


How do eating disorders develop?

As with all mental health diagnoses, there isn’t a single factor that causes the development of eating disorders. It’s a combination of things, and can depend on things such as: someone’s personality traits (their level of desire to please others, their self-esteem, their level of difficulty with being assertive, how much they feel pressure to be a certain way, etc.), relationships with others (having conflicts with loved ones, getting comments on physical appearance, etc.) and someone’s environment (having experienced stressful or traumatic events, being in an environment that places a lot of importance on physical appearance, health, or performance, etc.).


Generally, an eating disorder develops when you feel something is not going as you think it should, when you are having trouble managing difficult emotions, if you are finding it really hard to overcome a particular problem, or are unable to satisfy a need that you perceive. If you think you have an eating disorder, a specialized professional can help you understand what is triggering it, which will make it a lot easier for you to find healthy ways to handle life’s challenges.


Source: Aneb ados