Eating Disorders
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Learn about the causes of Eating Disorders & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Eating Disorders within New Zealand.

Eating disorders are caused by obsessive thoughts and behaviour associated with food leading to physical, mental and emotional problems. Recognised eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating and food deprivation. An eating disorder is typically characterised by a preoccupation with food and diets, a reliance on food to deal with anxiety or stress, low self-esteem or a desire for control. Eating disorders are psychological disorders requiring treatment by trained counsellors and psychotherapists.


Causes Of Eating Disorders  Eating Disorders | The Wellness Directory

Eating disorders are psychiatric conditions caused by various contributory factors associated with behavioural, emotional and social issues. Eating disorders are often coupled with other psychological problems such as depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. The two most common forms of eating disorder are anorexia and bulimia.

Common factors that lead to bulimia are low self-esteem, depression, anxiety disorder, OCD and post-traumatic stress disorder. Cultural pressure (media), peer pressure, puberty and family history can also lead to bulimia. Factors leading to anorexia can be from anxiety about the body (weight and shape), low self-esteem, family history, perfectionism, puberty, bullying, abuse, occupational pressure (modelling, dancing) and emotional trauma (from bereavement or divorce).

Bulimia is not just a fear getting fat and sufferers often binge and purge on food as a way to deal with intense emotions and feelings. Nearly two thirds of people with anorexia suffer with depression and over a third of anorexics have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).


Eating Disorder Symptoms

Eating disorders share many common symptoms and complications. Bulimia symptoms are typically bingeing and purging on food. Bingeing is characterised by repeated consumption of large quantities of high-calorie food. Bingeing often occurs without the need to eat or feeling hungry. Bingeing can be pre-planned or spontaneous but occurs on a regular basis. After bingeing, a bulimia sufferer will purge the food due to feelings of guilt or regret and the fear of putting on weight. Purging involves induced vomiting or the use of laxatives to encourage food out of the system. Signs of bulimia can also include over spending on food, weight fluctuation, disappearing after a meal (to go and vomit) or skin scarring on the knuckles from induced vomiting.

The main symptom of anorexia is deliberately losing weight by under-eating, induced vomiting or over-exercising. Like bulimia, anorexia sufferers will excuse themselves from a meal to go and vomit or use laxatives to force food through their system. Anorexics attempt to make their weight as low as possible and the fear of gaining weight affects normal eating. Someone with anorexia will have a pre-occupation with food or cooking and will think about food in a different way. They will often lie about what they've eaten and how often they eat. Anorexics will count calories excessively, avoid social eating, hide food, use slimming pills and have periods of fasting.

Any eating disorder can lead to serious medical conditions such as low blood pressure, kidney failure, osteoporosis, anaemia, infertility, menstrual problems and severe dehydration. People suffering with an eating disorder are likely to have or develop depression or anxiety disorders and may also suffer substance abuse.



Diagnosing an eating disorder often begins by the individual getting help from family or friends. Admitting to an eating disorder is extremely difficult and many people are unable to do so without help. Family and friends often intervene to help the individual confront their problem by taking them to see their GP who can make an accurate diagnosis or refer them to a mental healthcare professional.

A GP will discuss eating habits and check weight and body mass index (BMI). A person with anorexia will weigh 15% less than average and their BMI will be around 17.5 (normal range is 20-25). The GP will also take blood pressure readings and an electrocardiograph (ECG) reading as anorexia sufferers are at risk of heart conditions.


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