Get answers to your nutrition and healthy eating questions. Visit www.eatrightontario.ca or call us toll-free at 1-877-510-510-2.
Get answers to your nutrition & healthy eating questions.
Call us toll-free† at 1-877-510-510-2 to speak directly with a Registered Dietitian.
Do you or someone you know think about food or body size in a way that prevents you from enjoying life? Thoughts and behaviours like this can lead to eating disorders. Learn more about the different types of these conditions and where to seek help.
Eating disorders are conditions where individuals are obsessed with food, eating and their body size. This obsession takes over their everyday behaviours and daily thoughts. Individuals with eating disorders use unhealthy behaviours to try to gain control over their lives. Having an eating disorder and being on a diet are not the same thing – but frequent dieting can be the first step in developing an eating disorder.
The types of eating disorders we usually hear about include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
Someone with anorexia nervosa uses unhealthy practices (for example, starvation) to restrict their food intake. This condition commonly begins around puberty. Individuals with anorexia nervosa believe that by controlling their food intake they will be able to control whatever else is going on in their lives.
Some warning signs include:
A person with anorexia nervosa may have any one or a combination of these signs. They may also have some of the signs of bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa can be a serious and life threatening condition. It is important to seek professional help.
For more information: National Eating Disorder Information Centre
Bulimia nervosa is when a person goes through cycles of bingeing and purging. First, bingeing happens, which is when a person eats a large amount in an uncontrolled way and in a short time period. After bingeing, some form of purging happens (for example, vomiting or taking laxatives) to get rid of the food they have eaten.
Some early warning signs include:
Other warning signs include:
Binge eating disorder (also known as compulsive eating) is common in people who are overweight or obese. Binge eating is different from bulimia because someone with binge eating disorder will not use purging behaviours (like vomiting or laxatives) to get rid of the food. People with binge eating disorder usually overeat to numb their feelings and comfort themselves emotionally.
People do recover from eating disorders but professional help is usually required. It is important to seek help as soon as possible because the longer someone suffers from an eating disorder, the more difficult it can be to treat. Eating disorders should be diagnosed by a physician. Getting help for an eating disorder may include some or all of the following care:
Depending on the situation, some individuals may need to go into a hospital or treatment centre. Support groups and services can also be a resource for friends and families of individuals with an eating disorder.
It is not always easy to tell if someone has an eating disorder. Individuals with eating disorders try very hard to keep their behaviours a secret. If you think you know someone with an eating disorder, you can help by:
Eating disorders can cause physical and mental damage, not just to the individual but to their loved ones as well. Seeking professional help is very important and can sometimes be life saving. While people with eating disorders try to hide the problem, there are warning signs you can see. Talk to your friend or family member if you’re worried. It may take a long time for the individual to seek professional help, but you can make a difference by offering your support and encouraging them while they try to get healthy again.
The National Eating Disorder Information Centre
Canadian Mental Health Association
Hopewell Eating Disorders Support Centre
There are many services available in Ontario. To find help in your area:
Call EatRight Ontario at 1-877-510-510-2
This site is maintained by Dietitians of Canada.
Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2016. All rights reserved.
Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.