Eating disorders are charactersied by two key features:
Disturbed Eating including strict dietary regimes, restricted food intake or bingeing and Disturbed Weight control including taking laxatives, self-induced vomiting and excessive exercise.
The main types of eating disorder are classified as anorexia nervosa, charactersied, by extreme thinness along with a disturbed perception of body image and an intense fear of gaining weight, bulimia nervosa charactersied by binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives or diuretics and binge eating disorder characteriosed by frequently eating until uncomfortably full accompanied by a feeling of guilt, shame and being out of control.
At least 1.1 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, with young people in the age-group 14-25 being most at risk of developing this type of illness. Nearly 50% of people who binge eat are men.
Eating disorder symptoms fall into three categories:
Physical symptoms may include dry skin and brittle nails, cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal changes, hormone imbalances, infertility, immune deficiency, dental damage and in serious cases coma and death.
Psychological symptoms include difficulty concentrating, a sense of dread, irritability, depression and an inability to concentrate or focus.
Behavioural symptoms include beginning to avoid social situations where eating is involved and developing secretive eating behavior. These symptoms can cause and exacerbate stress.
In our society there is often a strong pressure to be thin. People with eating disorders often take this assumption to extremes and it is common to feel ambivalent about change.
People with eating disorders tend to base their worth in terms of their shape and eating habits. Working with a therapist to challenge some of these negative associations and to build confidence and low self -esteem can be useful.
As eating disorders are expressed through the body Holistic treatments such as Reiki complement talking therapies by encouraging a deep sense of connectedness and to life’s universal energy, promoting healing and acceptance.