Eating disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect anyone. They are an illness, not a choice, and the consequences can be life-threatening. It is estimated by that the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) that a million Canadians struggle with eating disorders.
It is estimated that a million Canadians struggle with eating disorders which affect a person’s sense of identity, worth and self-esteem.
Eating disorders include
bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, orthorexia (obsession with healthy eating), pica (eating items not typically thought of as food), laxative abuse, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. These disorders gradually take on more and more focus of a person’s daily thinking and behaviour and can be very difficult to overcome. This is because these illnesses affect a person’s sense of identity, worth and self-esteem.
The root of eating disorders is complex. The disorders differ in how they develop and may vary between individuals. However, risk factors typically involve a range of biological (a personal or family history of mental health conditions), psychological (low self-esteem, anxiety and/or perfectionism) and sociocultural (weight stigma in media, bullying, loneliness) elements.
Treatment for an eating disorder usually involves several health professionals including psychologists, dietitians and nutritionists, family physicians as well as personal supports like support groups and loved ones working with the affected person as a team.
If you are concerned about someone you love, reach out to them. Make sure they know you are concerned and are there for them. If you know you need help, call Healthline 811. If you are experiencing a crisis, call 911 or go to your local emergency.