What’s missing from the conversation about eating disorders?

When you hear the term ‘eating disorder’, what comes to mind?

Is it anorexia?

Or maybe bulimia?

It’s not surprising.

When someone asks me what I do and I explain I’m a psychotherapist who works with clients with eating disorders, they usually tell me about someone they know who’s experienced anorexia.

While it’s a really good thing that awareness around anorexia and bulimia has increased significantly over the years, there’s yet to be the same level of awareness about binge eating disorder or OSFED.

In case you don’t know, OSFED stands for “other specified feeding or eating disorder”.

Any disordered eating – for example compulsive eating or emotional eating – that doesn’t meet the criteria for binge eating disorder, bulimia or anorexia, usually falls under the category OSFED.

It doesn’t mean the eating behaviour is less distressing, it simply means it doesn’t meet the criteria.

So what’s the most prevalent eating disorder in the UK?

The answer is OSFED.

Followed by binge eating disorder,

…then bulimia,

…then anorexia.

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder in adolescence but it’s the least prevalent eating disorder.

OSFED and binge eating disorder are the most common eating disorders and yet they’re often left out of the conversation.

Why?

A new study published in The Lancet this month found that 41.9 million cases of binge eating disorder and OSFED were unreported in 2019, because the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) includes only anorexia and bulimia.

As a result, the experiences of 41.9 million people simply weren’t taken into account.

Binge eating disorder wasn’t included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) until 8 years ago in 2013.

If you go to your doctor concerned about binge eating or any other form of emotion-driven overeating, the sad fact is you’re more likely to be given diet advice than an eating disorder assessment.

No wonder so many of the clients I work with struggle to believe they’re worthy of help.

It’s time to be better informed about binge eating disorder and OSFED.

It’s time to ensure people suffering with these issues get the help they so badly need and deserve.

It’s time to change the conversation.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2021.

Mental Health and Weight Loss Ads

I was recently asked to contribute to an article on the mental health impact of weight loss advertising for Metro.

You can read the article here, but I also wanted to share with you the questions I was asked and the answers I gave.

Continue reading “Mental Health and Weight Loss Ads”

Dieting is Never the Answer

This is the time of year when most New Year diets have failed.

Yes, The Eating Silly Season is coming to a close. To be fair, Eating Silly Season is now all year long, but in January it’s especially silly as Diet Culture stages its annual Grand Parade of Bullshit and Misinformation.

Look – there’s that “celebrity doctor” shamelessly promoting disordered eating on social media in the name of “science”. There’s that “diet guru” on TV forcing people who are Not Thin to lose weight rapidly with zero regard for their psychological wellbeing.

Then there’s you.

How are you doing with all of this?

Continue reading “Dieting is Never the Answer”

Once the Storm is Over

And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”– Haruki Murakami

You don’t need me to tell you it’s been a tough year.

It has.

Incredibly tough.

Continue reading “Once the Storm is Over”

What’s the Price of People-pleasing?

A friend phones to ask you for a favour.

You’re already swamped and you don’t have the time or energy to help them out. Plus, this particular friend never seems to return any of the favours you do for them.

They wait expectantly for your answer.

A voice in your head is advising: “don’t agree to this. You have too much on already. Say no”.

Into the phone, you say with a smile:

“Yes, of course, I’ll do it – no problem”.

Why?

Continue reading “What’s the Price of People-pleasing?”

Food for Thought: Our Needs Bear Equal Weight

“The wants, needs, feelings, hours, hopes, and dreams of everyone around you bear equal weight to those of your own. Neither mine nor yours are greater. Ingrain that into your understanding”. ― Richelle E. Goodrich

Can you “ingrain that into your understanding”?

For some it’ll be easy, it’ll already be part of your world view. “Of course my needs are as important as anyone else’s. Why wouldn’t they be?”, you think.

Some behave as though their needs are more important than anyone else’s.

For others, it’ll be tough to believe your wants, needs, feelings, time and aspirations are in any way important, let alone just as important as anyone else’s.

Intellectually, you might know that it must be true.

But you just don’t feel it.

Continue reading “Food for Thought: Our Needs Bear Equal Weight”