Understanding disordered eating
For many, disordered eating can be akin to an addiction, such as an addiction to sugar processed carbs or white flour. Recovery can be especially challenging because, unlike alcohol or drug use, abstinence from food or mealtimes is not possible.
Multiple times a day, those of us with eating disorders and food addiction are confronted with what can feel like regular temptation or torture.
At South Pacific Private, we understand that disordered eating is often not about food at all.
People suffering from food addiction or disordered eating are often using food to cope with uncomfortable and painful feelings stemming from low self-worth, childhood trauma, unhealthy relationship dynamics, or are attempting to control the only thing they feel they can control – the food they put in their body.
It is not uncommon for people seeking treatment for other addictions to realise that their substance use, process addiction and/or mental health is very much intertwined with their relationship to food and their body image. This can be a huge trigger for people to relapse into problematic behaviours and requires a holistic approach to treatment.
That's why at South Pacific Private, we go beyond just treating the symptoms of disordered eating and seek to identify and resolve the underlying causes.
We also offer a dedicated Mindful Eating Program as an element of our general program. This is designed to deliver practical skills and guidance, including nutrition and mindfulness workshops, to equip clients with the tools and strategies, supporting the development of a healthy relationship with food.
Indicators Of Disordered Eating
Signs of disordered eating include:
- An obsessive focus on dieting, calorie counting, fasting, skipping meals, avoiding food groups or having patterns when eating, such as cutting food into small pieces or hiding food.
- Believing that if you can just reach your goal weight you will find happiness.
- Distorted body image and sense of self.
- Purging your system through vomiting, excessive liquid consumption or using laxatives to rid the body of food (and taking trips to the bathroom to do so after meals).
- Excessive exercise and a refusal to interrupt exercise, or distress if exercise is restricted.
- Withdrawing from social events and situations which involve meals, preferring to eat alone or excusing skipping meals in social settings, including meals you may have cooked yourself.
- Binge eating, including hoarding food, excessive consumption in one sitting - Constant weight fluctuations, purchasing baggy clothes to hide weight loss or weight gains.
- Constant concern or complaints about being fat, speaking often of diets and weight loss, frequent use of scales and mirrors to check for gains, losses and flaws.
If you’re concerned you may have a problem with disordered eating, you can use our self-assessment tool here to gain a better understanding of whether key indicators of a dysfunctional relationship with eating apply to your situation. To schedule a free, confidential, professional phone assessment, call our team seven days a week on 1800 063 332.
*A note on anorexia and bulimia.
For some who are experiencing disordered eating, a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder such as binge eating disorder, anorexia or bulimia nervosa may be applicable. We recognise that clients with these diagnoses, who arree actively purging, or have a Body Mass Index of less than 18, require specialist medical care and 24-hour supervision. Because the South Pacific Private operates as a therapeutic recovery community, we recommend individuals first gain stability with their disordered eating through a specially targeted program or through working with a specialist.
Anorexia and bulimia carry very serious health concerns. If you feel your symptoms are severe, you are actively purging or have a Body Mass Index of less than 18, please seek medical advice as soon as possible.