26th February to 4th March was National Eating Disorder Awareness week. It can be difficult to tell if someone has an eating disorder for various reasons. It is understood that approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. The first port of call should always be with their GP. A lot of eating disorders develop during adolescence but it isn’t unusual for people to develop issues later in their lives either. An average duration for anorexia can be eight years and five years for bulimia. The sooner someone gets help the better chance of a full recovery.
This type of eating is the one I come across the most as a hypnotherapist. There is never one main cause or trigger for it and usually many factors contribute to it. Clients often have a real negative body image of themselves and feel pressure from society to lose weight. When consulting a GP about weight, it is reported that, a very low percentage are asked about their emotional health.
What’s Typical Signs of Emotional Overeating?
Usually eating in secret and buying lots of extra food. Hiding food packaging and also social withdrawal or even isolation is common. Physical symptoms can include bloating, feeling sick, stomach pains, weigh gain, tiredness and problems sleeping. It can often begin with eating for comfort or to escape. Common is depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, worry or just feeling generally fed up altogether.
How is Physical Hunger Different?
A full range of foods sound appealing and physical hunger comes on gradually. The person is satisfied once full and it doesn’t cause any negative emotion.
Eating disorders affect family members too. Talking to the sufferer is important if they want to talk about it, they are still a person despite their disorder. You can learn about it and help understand why someone is behaving in a certain way. Let them know that you care but don’t make every single conversation include their disorder. Sometimes a person doesn’t think they need help or even ready to talk. Supporting someone can be exhausting and so it is important to look after yourself too otherwise you can’t help them if you are not well.