Eating Disorder Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask

I asked on social media recently what things people have always wanted to know about eating disorders but never asked, and I got a pretty good response.

I am answering some of them below, and if you have any more let me know in the comments and I will try my best to answer!

Do people with eating disorders experience psychosis?
Severe malnutrition can lead to psychotic type symptoms, so yes, it can happen. It is very unusual and probably a sign of a very serious medical problem as it is most frequently brought about through nutritional deficiencies. Eating disorders are also known to affect people’s mood, and psychosis can be experience when very depressed and/or manic but again, this is not at all common.

Do many men have eating disorders?
It is thought around a quarter of people with eating disorders are men, but it’s likely higher than this as men are less likely to seek help or be diagnosed than women.

Is there an eating disorder where people eat to excess?
All eating disorders can actually involve eating to excess. Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and bulimia are strongly associated with bingeing, however people with restrictive eating disorders may also binge at times.

What’s better to say than “you’re looking well” to somebody in recovery?
Nothing that could be translated into a comment about their body! Some nice things people said to me during weight restoration were that my hair looked thicker, my eyes looked brighter and I looked happier.

What should I avoid saying to somebody with an eating disorder?
Try to avoid commenting on their body and what they are/aren’t eating. Also any comments about yours or other people’s weight, dieting and related topics are usually pretty difficult for us.

What can I do to support someone with an eating disorder?
I wrote a whole post about this here!

Is it possible to get help for disordered eating if you don’t meet BMI requirements?
Short answer yes. However, lots of other factors come into play, such as what other symptoms you have, your physical health and sadly, where you live.

Will talking about health, fitness and dieting be triggering to people with eating disorders?
Yes, very much so. Try to avoid these topics if you can.

Mental health problems can cause appetite changes. At what point does this become problematic and indicative of an eating disorder?
Although diet is a huge part of an eating disorder, what makes it diagnosable is also the cognitions. If somebody’s eating habits have changed it’s important to keep an eye on this. However, restricting what you are eating due to low mood for example is very different to having an eating disorder. It’s the reason behind the changes that are most significant when identifying an eating disorder.

Does restricting my eating mean I have an eating disorder?
Not necessarily. Many people have ‘disordered eating’ due to the messages we get from diet culture, however their functioning may be less impacted and the cognitions of an eating disorder may not all be there. However, for some people disordered eating can develop into a diagnosable eating disorder, so should be monitored carefully. If you think you might have an eating disorder I would recommend speaking to a professional about it.

How can I develop a healthy relationship with exercise?
I have struggled with this a lot. I would say for me, it’s about identifying the rationale behind why I am exercising as that helps me identify whether it’s me or my eating disorder driving the idea. For example, if I think not doing any exercise is likely to cause me to feel guilty or anxious, or I am only doing it to make up for something I have eaten, that suggests to me that it’s an anorexia idea not a Cara idea. If I think it will be fun and make me feel happy, then I am more confident that I should listen to that thought.

How do you transition from a meal plan to eat more naturally?
This can be really difficult. In early recovery I think meal plans are very important, and for me they have been essential. However, I think as time goes on it’s healthy to move over into eating more intuitively. I started by making gradual changes, firstly to eating at slightly less rigid times. Then I became more flexible with snacks. For me, doing it gradually is what made it easier.

How do you reverse the physical side effects like hair loss and skin problems?
Honestly, the very simple answer is food, and lots of it! There isn’t really any way to do this other than regular, adequate and balanced nourishment, including fats and carbohydrates which a lot of people still try to avoid.

Do you believe full recovery is possible?
I believe it must be because people tell me it has happened for them. Do I believe it for myself? No, not really. That’s not to say it can’t happen for me, but I have never really lived without an eating disorder so I’m not sure I’ll ever be in a place where it’s 100% gone forever.

Did you ever get extreme hunger at a healthy weight?
I didn’t, and I didn’t really get it when heavily restricting either. However, I had it SO bad when I started treatment and it’s horrendous, both physically and psychologically. With regular and adequate intake it will pass, just remember it’s a totally normal part of recovering from a restrictive eating disorder.

How do you move away from a meal plan to eating more intuitively?
I sort of did this quite gradually. For example, I stopped planning in my afternoon snacks and just had a selection in the house and would choose what I wanted that day. They were all of equal calorific value to start with so I knew I wasn’t picking whatever I chose for disordered reasons. Then I started doing the same with other snacks, then with breakfast, then with lunch. I still plan all my dinners in advance but I actually think that’s pretty normal? I also now eat a little more flexibly in terms of timings.

Do you have any other questions? Drop them in the comments and I’ll try my best to answer!

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s