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  • Writer's pictureHannah Larkin

Eating disorders are not about eating.

TW for eating struggles (wouldn’t recommend reading if you are struggling with your eating/an eating disorder)

My body image (how I view my body) is currently the best it’s been in YEARS, maybe even my entire life and although this has and will fluctuate at times, I currently don’t have a particularly strong desire to loose weight or believe missing meals is a good idea.

However, despite all this, today I only managed one meal.

Eating disorders are about so much more than food and body image. My dad used to tell people that it’s about 30% food and 70% other stuff. And that other stuff is different for everyone but could be things like trauma, lack of control in life, pressures etc that suffers have no skills or support to cope with so turn to food, something easily controlled, and by doing so, have such a numbing effect on the rest of life.

Eating disorders are usually coping or communication mechanisms. Extremely unhealthy ones, but still valid none the less. The route behind them can range from person to person , and for some it can be very small and solvable, racially if caught early and others, really complex and messy. (This does not take away how horrible eating disorders are, whatever the cause mind you.) But very VERY rarely are they soley around not liking your body or food. This is purely the outlet. It’s also important to note that this is what can make recovery very frightening, giving up the only way you know how to communicate or cope with life is terrifying.

Although food and working on body image issues is a key part of recovery, as after all, sufferers ‘train’ their brains to demonise food and looking healthy and being underweight or malnourished. causes your brain and therefore behaviour to change entirely. But having appropriate therapy to look at the roots and maintaining factors is just as crucial, and the skills you learn in that are what is going to keep you well and not turning to another negative coping mechanism or relapsing back to your eating disorder.

So in summary, before telling someone to ‘eat a burger’ or that ‘they’re not fat’, remember, that although that might be the surface level issue, the bit people see and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. It can be really invalidating and frustrating to hear such comments for an illness that most people would do anything to make go away.

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