Have you ever felt or even acted upon an urge to prevent weight gain through excessive exercise or restricting large amounts of calories? Do you look at yourself in the mirror and dislike what you see? Maybe people around you have commented on your thin figure even though you may feel fat. If so, you may be struggling with an eating disorder (ED) or disordered eating behaviours.

How Many Adults May Struggle With Eating Disorders?

A study conducted by the BMC Medical Journal found that approximately 15.3% of female adults in the UK may be struggling with anorexia nervosa (AN) or bulimia nervosa (BN). While a majority of these women had a history of disordered eating behaviour,  reserach found 3% of women began exhibiting ED behaviour exclusively in their adult years. The study classified women with AN or BN in accordance with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and DSM-IV definitions for each respective ED. However, the study also found 27.7% of women exhibited Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) behaviours.

OSFED’s may include:

  • Atypical Anorexia: when a person exhibits all the criteria (such as calorie restriction, and fear of weight gain) but is of a normal BMI
  • Atypical Bulimia Nervosa: when a person binge eats and has purging behaviours episodes occur less then the required amount of time for a diganosis (at least once a week for three months) 
  • Purging Disorder: when a person attempts to eliminate or purge their food. This behaviour is not accompanied with a binge episode 
  • Atypical Binge Eating Disorder: when a person has a binge eating episode and feels a lack of control when consuming large amounts of food. These eating behaviours do not meet the criteria for Binge Eating Disorder (at least once a week for three months). 
  • Night Eating Syndrome: when a person intakes most of their calories during the night time. 

What To Do If You Think You Are An Adult With An Eating Disorder?

In the study, the BMC Medical Journal explained that adults with an ED or who struggle with a OSFED may not have realized they’re struggling because of misdiagnosis and the lack of awareness amongst health care professionals. In cases where an adult had been living with an ED since childhood or adolescence, the trigger was likely associated with a person’s childhood upbringing. The reserach did not provide possible explinations as to why women may have developed an ED as an adult.

If you believe you may have an ED or OSFED, therapy can help you overcome your negative self-thoughts and behaviours. Understanding and working through your past will help you take back control of your life. Therapy can also help you build new skills and resources to help you change your relationship with food and eating. Our nutrition team can help you rebalance your phisiology, which in turn, can help you settle your mind and calm your emotions.