An eating disorder is more prevalent in people who have experienced trauma, especially sexual abuse.
There are many types of eating disorders, such as binge eating, purging, excessive exercise, anorexia and bulimia. All these disorders allow the individual to cut off from, or numb, their emotions. People with an eating disorder have an unhealthy relationship with food and instead of eating for health and pleasure, food serves a very different purpose. Eating disorders can provide the individual with an escape, a feeling of control, a distraction, or can be used as self-punishment.
Some symptoms and behaviours of someone with an eating disorder might be:
- restricting food,
- eating excessively and feeling out of control when eating,
- eating in secret,
- feel anxious about eating,
- eating in response to difficult emotions,
- feeling anxious and upset when eating or when they have eaten,
- getting rid of food that they have eaten by vomiting or taking laxatives,
- a fear of eating around others,
- comparing their body to others or having an unrealistic perception of size and weight.
Although an eating disorder may be seen by the individual as something that helps at a time of trauma, having an eating disorder can be extremely dangerous and problematic and can lead to death.
If you think you may have an eating disorder, you may find it helpful to speak with someone. This could be your ISVA, GP or other health professional. Having the space to talk about your thoughts and emotions can help you to find other ways of dealing with them.