“Eating disorders are a very complex issue.”

There are two main types of eating disorders.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is a condition of self-imposed starvation that eventually leads to a body weight at least 15 percent below the expected level for a person’s age and height. It’s characterized by an extreme fear of—or antagonism to—gaining weight and a strikingly distorted body image. Human beings need to eat in order to survive, we tend to feel pleasure when we eat and fear and anxiety if we won’t eat for long enough. People with anorexia have this reversed they feel fear when they think of eating and pleasure when they don’t.

Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental illness, it must be taken very seriously.

Anorexia is often associated with teenage girls, but it can affect anyone at any age. New Zealand is seeing more and more men who develop this.

Bulimia Nervosa

This eating disorder is characterized by a behaviour known as bingeing and purging. During a binge, an individual quickly consumes an enormous amount of food, often without even chewing or tasting it. This could be five tubs of ice-cream in ten minutes. The resulting physical and emotional discomfort will provoke a purge, usually involving self-induced vomiting. The bingeing and purging cycles may occur a few times a week or, in severe cases, several times daily.

Compulsive Overeating

Compulsive overeating is bulimia without the purging element. It’s often linked with depression and can be understood as a way of self-medicating intense psychological pain. The depression-overeating connection is a classic example of a vicious cycle: the deeper the depression, the more a person eats in an attempt to dull the sense of despair; the more they eat, the more weight they gains; the heavier they becomes, the more depressed and hopeless they feels about the possibility of shedding the unwanted pounds.

There are several other types of eating disorders as well.

Getting help

All the research about eating disorders says that the best way to prevent long term harm is to get help early.

Some parents wait too long because they are not sure if their child is dieting or has an eating disorder.

If you can concerned, reach out for advice at an early stage.

If you need help a really good place to start is https://www.ed.org.nz/

Healthline is open 24 hours a day and you can talk to a registered nurse about any concerns, 0800 611 116

You can also go to your local GP.