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Eating disorders

What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders fall under the broad umbrella of mental health disorders. A person with an eating disorder is obsessed with their weight, body image, and food. These thoughts are so intense that they lead to unhealthy eating habits that can sometimes become dangerous. There is a great deal of pain behind these behaviours.

Although they on average affect girls and women more, eating disorders can happen to anyone.

An eating disorder is not…

  • Changes in how much you eat because you feel preoccupied, stressed, or sad. Our emotions affect the way we eat, and it is normal to see some changes over short periods of time. However, if changing the way you eat is your only way of managing your emotions, then it's important to talk about it.
  • Occasionally having difficulty with healthy eating, dieting, or being concerned with your body or weight. This happens to most people at some point in their lives. You may still feel the need to talk about it when it does occur, and you have the right to do so.
  • Related to someone’s weight. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to suffer from anorexia and not be underweight. On the other hand, a person may be thin and not suffer from this disorder.

Source: Aneb ados

Frequently asked questions

Do you have an eating disorder?
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If you have symptoms of an eating disorder, you need to know that you can be cured, but it’ll be hard to do alone. Consult a professional who can help you. It’s also important for you to be supported by your parents and/or a trusted friend throughout the process. They’ll be your closest ally when the going gets tough. The road to a cure may seem long and hard but it is worth it! Getting better will allow you to live a full life, realize your potential, and become the person you truly are!

I can't help my friend eat more. What should I do?
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Some things that won’t help: forcing them to eat more, congratulating them if they eat something, or complimenting them on their appearance. Your friend might feel pressured, which could lead them to hide away from people. Their health depends on their psychological condition, and only healthcare professionals can truly help them get better. What you can do is help your friend consult someone. Avoid making comments on their appearance, food, or weight. Just be there and listen to them. The first step toward a cure is opening up to someone and realizing that there is a problem.

How do I know if I have an eating disorder?
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Some signs that can give you a hint: you’re never happy with your weight and are obsessed with it, you isolate yourself and avoid meals with other people, your eating habits have changed significantly (you hardly eat at all or, on the contrary, you eat too much), you feel guilty after eating, etc. Once these signs have been identified, get support from the people you trust most, like your parents or a good friend, and consult a healthcare professional. They are the only ones who can diagnose an eating disorder. This questionnaire from Aneb can also help you evaluate whether you are at risk of developing one.

Can eating disorders be treated?
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Of course, provided that you get the support you need. Consult with a health care professional who will know how to support and help you. Don’t give up, even if it seems to take a long time and isn’t always easy. Once you’re completely healed, you’ll finally be able to focus on your dreams and goals, and you’ll achieve them much more easily!

Is there a problem if I’m careful about what I eat?
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There’s a difference between an eating disorder and taking care of your health by paying attention to what you eat. If you feel dissatisfied with your body and that causes you to starve yourself, exercise excessively just to lose weight, or make yourself throw up, you need to see your doctor. These practices are very risky for your health, and it’s important for you to develop other tools to take care of yourself. If necessary, seek help from a professional, such as a nutritionist or a personal trainer, who can guide you towards better practices.