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An eating disorder or problem is any abnormal or unhealthy behaviour towards food that is difficult for you. Many people will spend time thinking about or being affected by food problems in their lifetime – whether they want to be healthier, lose weight, lose their appetite, gain more of an appetite or feel like cravings are taking ahold. When these problems start to impact your daily life and alter your thought patterns you may be experiencing disordered thinking about food.

The causes of eating disorders are not fully understood but they may include:

  • Criticism of eating habits or weight
  • A family history of disordered eating habits
  • Being extremely concerned with being thin, perhaps as a reaction to pressures in your life, society or work.
  • Sexual abuse
  • Low self esteem
  • Obsessive personalities
  • Anxiety

Diagnosis of eating disorders usually starts at your GP or primary care doctor. They may ask you a range of questions about your eating habits and feelings surrounding eating. If your primary doctor suspects you have an eating disorder they should refer you to a specialist team for assessment and treatment.

Treatment for eating disorders will depend on the type of eating problem you have but will probably include talking therapies, physical health checks, dieticians to help get you back on track. Recovering from an eating disorder is a slow process but it can be done with the right support.

If you are experiencing eating problems, or you have concerns about somebody close to you, you should seek support. Talk to family or friends and visit your primary care doctor to put you in touch with the right services.