Eating Disorders Awareness Week (27th February - 5th March) is an international awareness event, fighting the myths and misunderstandings that surround food related mental illnesses that that affect 1 in 50 people in the UK.
Recovery is possible, is reliant on GPs to spot early warning signs that may have nothing to do with a person’s weight or appearance. Their role is crucial and their responsibility is huge, but the average GP receives less than 2 hours of training on eating disorders throughout their entire medical degree. Often, people with eating disorders don’t get the help they need because GPs just don’t have the right training to diagnose them.
There are many different eating disorders and many people will have heard of Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating & Bulimia Nervosa but have you heard of these?:
ARFID - Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, more commonly known as ARFID, is a condition characterised by the person avoiding certain foods or types of food. They might be very sensitive to the taste, texture, smell, or appearance of certain types of food, or only able to eat foods at a certain temperature. This can lead to sensory-based avoidance or restriction of intake.
They may have had a distressing experience with food, such as choking or vomiting, or experiencing significant abdominal pain. This can cause the person to develop feelings of fear and anxiety around food or eating, and lead to them to avoiding certain foods or textures. Some people may experience more general worries about the consequences of eating that they find hard to put into words, and restrict their intake to what they regard as ‘safe’ foods. Significant levels of fear or worry can lead to avoidance based on concern about the consequences of eating.
Orthorexia - Orthorexia refers to an unhealthy obsession with eating “pure” food. This doesn’t mean that anyone who subscribes to a healthy eating plan or diet is suffering from orthorexia. As with other eating disorders, the eating behaviour involved – “healthy” or “clean” eating in this case – is used to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, or to feel in control. It can also cause physical problems, because someone’s beliefs about what is healthy may lead to them cutting out essential nutrients or whole food groups. All eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, and should be treated as quickly as possible to give the sufferer the best chance of fully recovering.
Pica - Pica is a feeding disorder in which someone eats non-food substances that have no nutritional value, such as paper, soap, paint, chalk, or ice. For a diagnosis of pica, the behaviour must be present for at least one month, not part of a cultural practice, and developmentally inappropriate – generally, it’s not diagnosed in children under the age of two, as it is common for babies to “mouth” objects, which can lead to them accidentally eating substances that aren’t meant to be eaten. Often, pica is not revealed until medical consequences occur, such as metal toxicity, cracked teeth, or infections.
Rumination Disorder - Rumination disorder is an illness that involves repetitive, habitual bringing up of food that might be partly digested. It often occurs effortlessly and painlessly, and is not associated with nausea or disgust. Rumination disorder can affect anyone at any age.
For more information on food related mental illness visit: www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk