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A guide to eating disorders: Introduction

Introduction

We all have different eating habits: what food we like, how much we need to eat and when we like to eat.  It is not unusual to experiment with different eating habits such as becoming vegetarian or changing your diet to improve your health.  There are many different ‘eating styles’ which allow us to stay healthy.  However, some eating patterns are driven by an intense fear of becoming fat and are actually damaging to our health.  These are called eating disorders.  The control of food and eating become a way of coping with emotional difficulties.

Who gets eating disorders?

Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of age, sex, cultural or ethnic background. It is true that eating disorders are most common in teenage girls, but 10% of cases are male and it’s not uncommon for an eating disorder to develop in middle age.

What are the signs?

Not everyone will have the same symptoms - no two people are the same. Some people may have a mix of symptoms and the pattern of symptoms may change over time.