This week (28th February - 6th March), is eating disorders awareness week in the UK. Although at New Leaf Recovery we are a rehab centre that focuses on addiction, we understand the importance of raising awareness around eating disorders in the UK and beyond, and we want to help.

Unfortunately, eating disorders are becoming increasingly common – with 1 in 50 people being affected by these devastating mental illnesses in the UK. This needs to change. Just like with addiction, recovery from an eating disorder is possible with the right support.

But without this support, needless suffering could continue for years, which is why it’s so important to raise awareness and reduce stigma in society. It is our aim that people feel comfortable reaching out for support and that the professionals on the other end are equipped to help.

Person giving support to a loved one in a rehab centr during their recovery

What Is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is a serious mental illness that involves disordered eating behaviours. These behaviours are often used to cope with difficult feelings or situations. A common misconception is that an eating disorder is all about the food itself, but this isn’t usually the case. Instead, these behaviours are a result of deeper feelings, such as low self-esteem, and masking these mental health issues.

These behaviours can vary greatly and may include any one or a combination of disordered eating behaviours. These may include limiting the amount you’re eating or eating very large quantities of food in one sitting or even using unhealthy methods to remove eaten food from the body. In fact, there is often an overlap between the different identified types of eating disorders.

Who Does an Eating Disorder Affect?

An eating disorder can affect anyone. This mental illness does not distinguish between sex, gender, age, or ethnicity. No matter what your background, you could fall into disordered eating habits. This is especially the case as some forms of disordered eating are common enough to be normalised, making it hard to recognise them for what they are.

Links With Behvioural Addictions

Although eating disorders are not addictions in and of themselves, there is some overlap between the behaviour and experiences of those recovering from an addiction or an eating disorder. In fact, compulsive overeating (often called food addiction), is thought to fall under the category of behavioural addiction.

Plus, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has now broadened the definition of addiction to include “process” addictions – which could include an addiction relating to food.

Some well-documented similarities between eating disorders and addictions include:

  • Stigma or judgment.
  • Effects on the reward system of the brain.
  • Withdrawal and increased tolerance to these effects.
  • Denial, or hiding the behaviour.
  • Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to quit.
  • Despite negative emotional, physical, and social consequences, continuing the behaviour.

How New Leaf Recovery Rehab Centre Can Help

If you or someone you know is stuck in a self-destructive cycle, whether that be due to suffering from an addiction or an eating disorder, it’s important that you can successfully find support.

Professional support, like that offered at our rehab centre, can make all the difference when you’re wanting to make the first step in your recovery. Get in touch today on 0300 999 0330 or fill in a contact form to find out how we can help you.