Eating Disorders Awareness Week – February 1st – 7th 2022

In the last two years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of people reaching out to us for help with disordered eating. Disordered eating covers any unhealthy eating behaviours and worries about body image.

This is becoming a common issue in our society and affects both men and women of all different ages. Whilst we often think of women when we talk about disordered eating, men actually make up approximately 25% of all disordered eating cases. Unfortunately for men experiencing this, they may experience delays in accessing treatment as doctors may overlook the possibility of an eating disorder and many of the programs created are tailored towards women.

Common types of disordered eating:
1. Dieting and restrictive eating,
2. Self-induced vomiting,
3. Binge eating,
4. Laxative abuse.

Symptoms of disordered eating:
It is important to know the signs and symptoms so that you can help a friend or family member if you notice any of the following.
The physical signs of disordered eating can include the following:
* Chronic weight fluctuations
* Stomach complaints and pain.
* Changes in bowel habits.
* Changes in menstrual regularity, including stopped or missed periods.
* Feeling dizzy, weak and/or tired.
* Fainting.
* Changes in skin and hair (such as being dry and brittle).
* Acid-related dental problems, including cavities and erosion of enamel (caused by bulimia).

The emotional signs of disordered eating include the following:
* Being preoccupied with weight, food, dieting, calories and carbohydrates to the point that eating and managing weight become a primary concern over other activities.
* Being preoccupied with body image, body size/shape, a specific part of the body and/or the number on the scale.
* Significantly limiting the repertoire of foods by restricting whole categories of food and only considering a very small number of foods safe to eat.
* Performing specific food rituals.
* Withdrawing from social eating activities.

We understand psychological and emotional issues contribute to disordered eating, which is why seeking the help of a trained mental health professional in addition to a nutrition expert is important. Many people who suffer with disordered eating report issues with low self-esteem, perfectionism and report having difficulties in their relationships.

Please know that you are not alone in your struggles with eating and that there is help and support out there for you.

If you know someone who you believe is struggling with an eating disorder, please approach them with compassion and understanding. Getting them help as soon as possible is important, but be someone safe for them to share with. Support them through any treatment and seek the help of trained professionals (family doctor, registered mental health professionals with experience in this area, registered nutritionists/naturopathic doctors etc.)

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) provides information, resources, referrals and support to Canadians affected by eating disorders through their toll-free helpline and instant chat.