If eating rules your life; if you struggle with control of eating and weight; if you may be harming your health; you may have an eating disorder.
An eating disorder is not an illness like measles. It is a mental health condition with harmful side effects. Many people worry about what they eat and how they look, and do strange things to control their weight. But they don’t all have an eating disorder.
You may have an eating disorder if eating rules your life; if your weight and shape is the most important thing about you; if your concerns about food are affecting your health and well-being and if people who love you are worried about you.
An eating disorder can change over time. It can begin with restriction and evolve into binge eating. Some people have features of all the eating disorders from one moment to the next. Take our short test below. If your relationship with food is making you stressed, visit our Help and Treatment pages to see how you can recover.
The 3 Dimensions Of Eating Problems
Whether or not you have an eating disorder depends upon your answers to the questions below:
- Do you obsess about everything you eat or what you weigh?
- Do you have bad thoughts about yourself as a result of your eating habits?
- Do you compare yourself constantly to other people?
- Do you have a lot of very strict rules about what you should or should not be eating?
- Is there a lot of guilt, anxiety and fear?
- Do you feel fat even though your friends say you are okay?
- Do you hate yourself for what you put in your mouth?
- Do you feel helpless around food?
- Are you depressed and anxious a lot of the time?
- Do you eat normally in front of others and binge in secret?
- Vomit or use laxatives? Are you always either on or off a diet?
- Do you gorge certain foods or exercise excessively to control your weight?
- Do you keep on eating when you are full, or starve because you fear you will not be able to stop eating once you start?
- Do you constantly jump on the scales?
- Are you always on or off a diet? Do you take slimming pills? Exercise too much?
- Do you feel that your behaviour is not normal – even perhaps dangerous to your health?
Have you lost touch with what it feels like to eat normally? Or are you in denial about how dangerous your eating behaviour has become? Maybe you feel you aren’t “bad enough” to need help and support. Everyone with eating issues deserves to get help.
What kind of eating disorder do I have?
COMPULSIVE EATING OR BINGE EATING DISORDER is when you
- Overeat in secret, either all or some of the time
- Feel that your eating isn’t normal
- Feel guilty about what you have eaten and feel like a bad person
- Try all the time to lose weight or try to stop yourself from gaining weight
- Think and anguish about food all the time
- Feel out of control around certain kinds of food or any food.
- You vomit, or take laxatives to get rid of unwanted calories, even if you have not overeaten
- Binge and purge in secret but behave normally in front of others
- You are diabetic and manipulate insulin for weight control – see our information pages about diabulimia
- You promise to stop but it somehow doesn’t happen.
- You feel huge, no matter what you weigh & you are terrified of weight gain
- Your eating habits are very restricted
- You hear a Voice telling you to keep eating less & berating you if you do eat
- Other people are worried about you
ORTHOREXIA You might have this if:
- You are obsessed with clean or pure foods
- Avoiding certain nutrients like dairy food or wheat is a survival issue
- Anxiety about the quality of food affects your life and relationships.
ARFID If a child has avoidant -restrictive feeding disorder:
- They will be very picky with food
- Anxious about eating
- A nutritionally very narrow diet
- Fails to thrive and grow well
- They may be anorexic if they also fear weight gain