We have been hearing a lot about Eating Disorders in the media over the years, but very little about Eating Distress. What is the difference?
Eating Disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge-Eating Disorder and Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified, as described in psychiatric manuals, are just labels which concentrate mostly on the description of a person’s behaviour. Different types very often overlap and even the top experts agree that it is difficult to make a clear diagnosis. But all of these are only the symptoms of the condition known as Eating Distress (ED). Eating Distress is a disease where the mind culminates all of the negative assumptions the person has about him or herself. The negative mind becomes more powerful than the positive mind and has much more influence on the person’s thinking, feeling and behaviour. This state of mind develops subconsciously and the person is not always aware that they are victims of this negative condition. Often we read that sufferers have low self-esteem. However, in reality, he or she has no sense of self at all. Therefore, this condition is extremely abusive and manifests itself with highly self-destructive symptoms in which an eating disorder is one. They are all different manifestations of one basic condition.
People suffering from Eating Distress have difficulty with the simple act of eating when hungry, and stopping when they are full. The condition takes over the control of their food intake. Often it can be recognisable by an unhealthy obsession with food and body, which comes to occupy centre stage in the sufferer’s life. Food becomes the most important relationship – but it is never a happy one or an easy one. Slowly and surely everything is eventually excluded while thoughts constantly centre on food or the body.
Eating Distress is not a problem; it is a solution of other underlining issues. It is a way of communicating with inner unhappiness. Controlling the body is a way of controlling life. Control is the centre of the sufferer’s life. Eating Distress is very preoccupying. That is the function of the disease. It occupies the mind fully and excludes other issues. It is a cushion against painful reality. Eating Distress is a symptom of how the person relates to the world. Obsessive thinking about food is only a lonely substitute. Eating Distress is a very private disease and is usually not brought voluntary to the attention of health professionals.
A person with Eating Distress wants to be trusted, wants to be liked, and wants to communicate. But, like many people he or she is afraid. Eating Distress is their language and their solution to the problems in their lives. It is a connection between eating, emotions and state of mind. No single personality type has so far been associated with Eating Distress. But statistics show that sensitive and vulnerable people are more susceptible. A person suffering from Eating Distress relies more than most on other peoples’ opinions of him or her. Reflections of him or her determine how he or she feels about himself or herself. The Eating Distress person is terrified of criticism. It means that others do not approve of something that the sufferer did or said. Very often it is taken as a personal judgement. The Eating Distress victims are not only in need of approval from others, but inside they are ‘’hungry’’ for care and affection as well. Despite the feeling of dependency, people with an Eating Distress don’t want to rely on or need other people. Feeling dependent or needy leaves them feeling weak or like a failure, and it is avoided at all costs. For some people there is an intense fear that others will be overwhelmed by their needs and leave them, or stop loving them. To avoid this they try to be perfect inside and out. The strain is enormous. They feel that to be loved, they need to be perfect. People with an Eating Distress want to be like everybody else. However, they find it much more difficult to be aware of their real needs and feelings. They do not feel their worth as a person. They struggle to make sense and express their feelings about their life.
Remember, anyone can suffer from Eating Distress at any age.