With this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week just around the corner (26 February to 4 March), it’s a good time to be asking this question. There will be a lot of information available locally and nationally. However, it can all be quite confusing.
It’s helpful to think about the difference between an eating problem and an eating disorder.
An eating problem
You simply dislike certain foods. In more serious cases you might have a very limited diet.
If your overall diet is healthy and balanced, this needn’t become a major issue in your life. However, if it’s causing you embarrassment or concern then it might be a good time to ask for some professional advice.
You could ask a nutritionist whether your health is at risk because you don’t eat important food groups. A nutritionist can give you advice about suitable alternatives if this is the case.
You might also speak to a counsellor or therapist about the reasons why you have such a strong dislike of certain foods. You might find that this will help you to move on from the issue. Once you have this insight you might start eating the food that you once avoided or simply stop worrying about it.
An eating disorder
If you are anxious or depressed and your struggle with food is affecting your physical and mental health then it’s very important to speak with your doctor. Amongst other things, your GP will review your eating habits, weight (including you body mass index or BMI) and nutrition and will probably refer you for some psychological tests.
Some conditions, like anorexia or bulimia, are quite well known but there is a broad spectrum of eating disorders. It’s more complicated than starving or bingeing, so it’s really important that you have the right diagnosis.
Who can help you?
It can be very difficult to take the first step to tell someone how you’re feeling. A qualified therapist can help you at this stage if you don’t feel you can speak with a friend or family member.
If you are medically diagnosed with an eating disorder you are likely to be offered ‘talking treatments’, possibly medication and, ideally, the support of a qualified dietitian.
Unfortunately the waiting lists for talking treatments can be lengthy. Your doctor can give you advice about finding a private counsellor or therapist and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has a useful search tool to help you find someone in your area.
If you think you may have an eating disorder and would like to speak to one of our online therapists, please click here