Anorexia Nervosa is one particular type of Eating Disorder which negatively affects the person’s relationship with food and body image. It causes the young person to become preoccupied with weight and body shape to the point that weight loss becomes a central feature of life. Thoughts about body shape and about food become distorted by illness and consequently the person has difficulty making any realistic appraisals about food intake or the individual’s own body shape. Behaviour becomes almost solely directed towards the goal of weight loss with previous interests becoming secondary and relationships with friends and family frequently becoming strained as others struggle to comprehend the behaviour.
Distinguishing ‘normal dieting’ from Eating Disorder Symptoms
- Denial of being “on a diet” despite obvious restriction and weight loss; Denial of hunger or craving;
- Claims of needing less food than others;
- Change in food ‘rules’, e.g. vegetarianism, not eating after 6pm; Attempts to hide weight loss, e.g. wearing baggy clothes; Increased interest in food/cooking for others;
- Unusual eating behaviours: eating very slowly, chopping food up into tiny amounts, segregating foods;
- Eating alone;
- Bathroom trips after eating; Ritualised behaviours;
- Social isolation, low mood; Increased exercise.