Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which people keep their body weight as low as possible. People with anorexia usually do this by restricting the amount of food they eat. Additionally they may use other behaviours like vomiting after meals, exercising excessively or taking laxatives or diet pills.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that can be life-threatening. It is a very serious illness which mainly affects women and girls but it is becoming more commonly seen in men and boys. It usually starts in teenage years but can become a disorder at any age.
People with anorexia restrict the amount of food they eat and try to keep their weight as low as possible. They may also engage with other behaviours such as vomiting after eating, excessive exercising or taking laxative and or diet pills. This is usually accompanied by a distorted image of themselves such as thinking that they’re fat when they’re not. People with anorexia are significantly underweight.
People with anorexia often go to great lengths to hide their behaviour from family and friends by lying about what they have eaten, or by pretending to have eaten earlier. Symptoms are varied and include:
• eating a severely restricted diet
• alternating between restricting and binge-eating
• self-induced vomiting or using medicines to counter weight gain
A person with anorexia will want their weight as low as possible and will be afraid of gaining weight.
People with anorexia may also:
• not be truthful about eating or what they have consumed
• give excuses about why they are not eating
• pretend they have eaten earlier
• be secretive about how much weight they have lost
• are preoccupied with thoughts about food
• spend lots of time reading cookery books and recipes
Someone with anorexia nervosa strictly controls what they eat. For example, by:
• strict dieting
• counting the calories in food excessively
• avoiding food they think is fattening
• eating only low-calorie food
• missing meals (fasting)
• avoiding eating with other people
• hiding food
• cutting food into small pieces – to make it less obvious they have ate little
• taking slimming or diet pills
Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa
Diagnosis and treatment of people with anorexia nervosa will vary depending on the individual. Treatment includes:
• psychological treatment
• advice about eating and nutrition to help safe weight gain
• regular monitoring of physical health with weight and height checks