let's talk about: eating disorders.
Disordered eating is commonly misunderstood and stigmatised. People tend not to talk about their experiences because they believe they might not be accepted by their loved ones, friends or society.
I’m going to be sharing my experience with an eating disorder whilst also hoping that it can guide someone in a similar situation into getting the help they deserve.
types of disordered eating.
There are different types of eating disorders, the most common ones being bulimia nervosa and anorexia. I am trying to overcome the one called Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). A condition that might make someone avoid or restrict their food intake or avoid a certain type of food for an extended period. People might do this because they are sensitive to the taste and texture of food, they may have had a distressing experience with food, such as choking, or because the person may not recognise that they are hungry in the way that others do, making eating seem like a chore and resulting in them struggling to eat enough.
my experience with ARFID.
Another critical aspect of ARFID is its potential negative impact on your physical health and mental and psychological wellbeing. The past two years have been the hardest years of my life. I have had to face many issues that I never thought I would face, resulting in feeling angry and suffocated and taking it out on my body. For the first seven months, I had no idea what was going on with me. My anxiety became crippling, I was only eating one small meal a day (at best), and I never felt like opening up because I strongly believed nobody would understand. Due to this, my day-to-day functioning was negatively affected as I started to overthink certain situations and question my self-worth. As for my eating, it took a long time to consume a few mouthfuls before feeling full. I only ever took small bites whilst making sure to chew my food very carefully. These alluded to me being a ‘picky eater’ rather than someone with disordered eating.
Like most eating disorders, ARFID can make people believe that there is no possibility of escaping it and that they can’t change their eating habits, making them reluctant to reach out for help. Even when I started to believe that my food intake was getting better and I was feeling healthier, something would happen, and it would spiral out of control. It felt like a broken record. However, it is important to recognise that anyone can react differently, as ARFID is sometimes described as an ‘umbrella’ term – it includes a range of different types of difficulty.
A few months ago, I, and the people around me, noticed that my mental health was getting worse. I reached out for help from my local GP and the student wellbeing services at my University. Using these services helped me narrow down the reasons behind my disordered eating by talking about it (if I wanted to) whilst also guiding me to understand and accept that things take time to heal. I was told, “people have one brain but two minds that can sometimes battle against each other”. For the first time in a while, I didn’t feel alone.
If you are currently struggling with disordered eating, please get the help you deserve by contacting your GP or visiting B-Eat online. They specialise in helping people overcome various eating disorders. You are not alone. If you think that a friend or family member is struggling, here are some tips on how you can help support them through this tough time:
● Listen – They are nervous to admit that they might need help, so listen to them talk, and it might result in them feeling more confident to tell others.
● Educate yourself – They might not understand what they’re going through, so by educating yourself, you could guide them into choosing the right person for help and support.
● Support them – Reassure them that recovery is possible and make sure they talk about what they’re thinking and feeling.
● Avoid certain topics – When someone is struggling, try your best to avoid topics such as weight, food, diets or even body shape as you never know what thoughts they are trying to overcome that day.
● Ask if you can help – Asking if there is anything you can do for them can help reassure them that they are not alone. People might need assistance with day-to-day life that has been neglected.