Many of us are obsessed with body image and weight control. In a recent survey, nearly two-thirds of women admitted that their body size negatively impacts their lives, and the same is true for many men (not to be misdiagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder). We are surrounded by images of thin (and beautiful) people, and many people feel unhappy with their bodies by comparison. Problems can arise through excessive dieting, fasting, exercising, calorie-counting, laxatives and purging. These issues can occur at any age.
For some people, restricting food content can be a way of keeping in control. However, binge-eating can be a way of relieving anxiety or stress. The type of eating problem can be particular to the individual, and needs to be understood in order to find ways of working through it.
Having distorted eating patterns can lead to many physical complications such as tooth decay, kidney damage, bone density loss, high or low blood pressure, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems, stunted growth (in adolescents and teens) and depression.
Counselling and psychotherapy can help with psychological causes of food-related problems. Eating disorder therapists can help with issues such as comfort eating, pre-occupation with weight, binge-dieting, negative body image and eating disorders such as bulimia.
NICE guidelines recommend cognitive behavioural therapy for bulimia nervosa. The recommended course of treatment should involve 16 to 20 sessions over 4 to 5 months, although this will vary according to presenting issues.