Eating Disorders are characterized by disturbed eating or eating-related behaviours. Frequently, a person with an eating disorder is preoccupied with their weight or with food. The three main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
Some people exhibit more subtle signs and symptoms of disordered eating that do not meet the full criteria for any of the eating disorders, but are, nevertheless, a cause for serious concern.
Many people with eating disorders are scared to seek treatment because they are afraid that they will have to gain weight. Others are afraid to give up their eating behaviours that provide emotional comfort and/or a sense of control. The adverse psychological, physical, and social consequences of eating disorders, however, are profound. Eating disorders are usually a sign of a bigger emotional problem and are real, treatable medical illnesses.
Treatment of eating disorders usually includes Cognitive Behavioural (CBT) strategies, such as addressing over-evaluation of shape and weight, as well as unhelpful weight-control behaviours (dietary restraints and restrictions, binging, purging, etc.), restoring adequate nutrition, bringing weight to a healthy level, and relapse prevention. It is important to understand that in many cases, other psychological issues, and interpersonal relationship difficulties contribute to disordered eating. Those issues need to be identified and addressed in therapy with the goal of developing healthier ways of dealing with them.