Wrestling with an eating disorder is not easy. Unhealthy eating habits for my partner were not limited to Friday nights or the weekend parties. Since my partner and I both work from home, slipping off to junk food and ordering in became too much for me.

I could see the apparent consequences in my relationship. We got into terrible fights more often. Things had to change. I could not let this affect my relationship and, most importantly, my partner’s wellbeing.

We reached out to a certified therapist and consulted her about the issue. I realised I was doing it the wrong way all along. My therapist made me understand that first, I need to make my partner realise that the unhealthy patterns are a mental health disorder as there always is a hidden problem at play. The issues can range from self-confidence to body image problems.

With a positive attitude and professional help, here is how helped my partner overcome eating disorders.

But before we dive deep into the causes and effects, let’s get to the basics.

What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that require professional help to overcome. If you are asking yourself, “What eating disorder do I have” or are suffering from symptoms that manifest in unhealthy eating habits, then this article is for you.

Large amount of food
Eating disorders are overwhelming conditions and have the potential to adversely affect an individual’s life. These disorders are characterised by severe alterations in eating patterns and behaviour.

Types of eating disorders:

Eating disorders have various types, and their symptoms vary accordingly. Let’s see the most common types of eating disorders and their symptoms and causes too.

Anorexia Nervosa

It is characterized by abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of weight or shape. If someone is taking extreme measures to control their size, shape, or weight, which affects their lifestyle and health, they are suffering from anorexia.

Attempts to excessively limit calories or use other methods to lose weight, such as excessive exercise, using laxatives or diet aids, or purging after eating, can cause severe health problems.

Restricting type and purging type are the two variants of Anorexia. Individuals with restricting type lose weight solely through excessive exercise, unrealistic diets, or fasting.

Those with the purging type may binge or eat irregular and uncontrolled amounts of food, and they purge using laxatives or diuretics.

Bulimia Nervosa

When a person has Bulimia, they lose control over their eating behaviour and eat a lot of food in a very short time period. People with Bulimia restrict their food intake during the day which often leads to binge eating and purging.

A person suffering from these episodes get “deliberately sick using laxatives, or aggressively exercise in order to stop themselves from gaining weight” (NHS).

Binge-eating disorder is characterised by excessive amounts of food intake and losing control of your eating habits. You may eat all your food at once, or eating even when you are not hungry at all, or eat more food than intended until you feel uncomfortably full.

Feelings of guilt and shame follow these binge-eating episodes. However, I would request that you don’t try to compensate by over-exercising or purging; this could severely affect your health.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

OSFED differs from the above-mentioned eating disorders. OSFED has been considered a serious illness and is the most common disorder in people. A person with OSFED needs medical intervention to overcome these unhealthy eating disorders.

Who develops an eating disorder?

Statistically, teenage girls and young women are reported to have anorexia or bulimia, likely than teenage boys and young men.

Eating large amount of food all at once

However, contrary to the myth, men can have eating disorders, too. Although eating disorders can occur across a broad age range. However, they often develop in the teens and early 20s.

Warning signs of an eating disorder are:

• Dramatic weight loss
• Lying about how much and when a person has eaten
• Lying about their body weight
• Eating a lot of food very fast
• Going to the bathroom a lot after eating (often with a flushed face)
• Excessive or over-exercising
• Avoiding eating with others
• Eating food very slowly or dividing them into small pieces
• Wearing baggy clothes to intentionally hide their body weight, shape and size

Getting help

If you think that you have an eating disorder or are not sure about it, see a GP as soon as you can. They will do proper tests of your eating behaviours and body weight and then recommend you eating disorder specialists.

Get support via therapy

It might be difficult to know what to do in order to help someone who is suffering from these disorders. Mostly, people are secretive or defensive about their eating behaviours and their weight, they might also deny that they are unwell.

You must understand that there is a silver lining in helping someone and annoying them. You might have the best intentions for them but tread carefully. These are sensitive issues and you forcing them could backfire anytime.

Ask them subtly if they are okay? Encourage them to see a GP. Let them know you are worried about them. You could offer to go along with them to show support.