TO MODULE 3
Welcome to Module 3! In this module we will explore disordered eating, what might be causing these difficulties, and provide you with information and strategies that we hope will help you in your journey.
Learn about disordered eating
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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust
Do you think these statements are true or false
Dieting is one of the most common
forms of disordered eating
Avoiding a type of food or food group is part of normal eating
People who regularly display dieting behaviours are more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who don’t
People with disordered eating can often feel isolated from their peers
Disordered eating is not linked to poor mental health
It is not possible to change disordered eating behaviours
Disordered Eating is a phrase used to describe a range of irregular eating behaviours that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder. However, the behaviours can still be of concern, and the disordered eating can sometimes make a person more likely to develop an eating disorder.
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are diagnosed according to specific and narrow criteria. This excludes a majority of people suffering with disordered eating.
Disordered eating may still require attention and appropriate action. This is because there is a risk that disordered eating patterns may become more problematic and put individuals at risk of serious health problems.
The most significant difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating is in the severity and the frequency of the symptoms which impacts on whether or not a person's symptoms and experiences align with the criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organisation.
It is important to seek help for disordered eating that does not meet the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. This module is designed to provide information and support you to take appropriate action.
The term "disordered eating" is a descriptive phrase, not a diagnosis. People who experience disordered eating, whether diagnosed with an Eating Disorder or not, often have poor emotional awareness and have limited access to emotion regulation strategies. Disordered eating can become one way to help regulate and manage difficult emotions.
It is not uncommon to notice changes in your eating habits as you approach and navigate teenage years. There are a number of things that would be considered normal aspects of adolescence that may influence your eating behaviours.
You might notice that healthy eating habits may become less common, e.g. often skipping breakfast, avoiding eating meals with your family etc.
As a teenager, you can be influenced by your peers, while navigating friendships and developing a sense of belonging, which is all crucial in your social development. With this brings aspects of social eating, which may influence your preferences and patterns of eating.
Your increased independence may also be reflected in food choices that you make.
Adolescence also brings about puberty, significant physiological growth and changes in brain development. This may also influence changes in appetite and eating behaviours, likely an increased appetite.
During adolescent years, growth and brain development increases significantly. In order to support these changes in the body, teenagers will often need more sleep, and social influences (education, work, social life, home life etc) may also effect sleep and wake times. This in turn can impact your eating patterns.
Frequent dieting, anxiety associated
with specific food or meal skipping
A feeling of loss of
control around food, including
compulsive eating habit
Preoccupation with food, weight
and body image that negatively
impacts quality of life
Rigid rituals and routines
surroundings food and exercise
Using exercise, food restriction, fasting or
purging to "make up for bad foods" consumed
Feelings of guilt and shame
associated with eating
Videos of people
looking slim and
toned advising you
on what to eat
“what I eat in a day” –
which ends up being restrictive and
“how I lost X amount
“follow me on my
(one meal a day)
Try this for yourself! make your own notes in the boxes below
You might find yourself controlling food and eating as a way to manage emotions that are difficult to understand or to respond to. Patterns of controlling food or eating can then become hard to give up and other areas of your life might start to suffer as a result.
Using food and eating as a way of soothing or trying to get rid of emotions is very common. We all do it from time to time – just think about the last time you had a bad day and someone suggested a cup of tea and a biscuit!
Controlling food and eating may feel like it protects you from the effects of unpleasant memories or experiences by dampening or even getting rid of unwanted emotions.
Perhaps you have noticed this within yourself. Write some notes in the section below...
You might find that when you are experiencing strong emotions you respond in different ways, including in the way you eat
This can become a habit as a
way of coping with stressful
moments or strong
Some people eat less when
upset or distressed
Others may use food to cope with these feelings, which might look like eating more or even binge eating
Although this feels as if it might help in the moment, the benefits are not long lasting. You might end up feeling worse in the long term sometimes experiencing feelings of guilt and shame
Emotion-Focussed Family Therapy (EFFT) material used with permission from the International Institute for Emotion-Focussed Family Therapy https://www.mentalhealthfoundations.ca - Adele Lafrance, Natasha Files, Sheila Paluzzi and Jennifer Danby.
References or Creators Credit