Eating disorders

Including Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge eating disorder and Orthorexia.

Overview of eating issues

eating disorders @ auckland therapy : counselling and psychotherapyEating disorder can effect  children, adolescents, men and women of any age. Such problems frequently develop during transitional developmental periods such as adolescence, transition to university, starting a new job, while travelling, after a loss, or other significant change. Relapses are also more likely to happen in such transitional times.

These disorders affect people on many different levels, with an interplay between food, brain chemistry and hormones, body image, self-esteem, motivation and relationships. Those in medical danger, particularly with anorexia or bulimia, need specialist support. This is especially true of anorexia as the condition can radically alter psychological and emotional functioning in an ever-declining spiral. In such cases early professional diagnosis, assessment and treatment is vitally important to interrupt the downward spiral.

It’s crucial to have an eating disorder treated as soon as possible as the longer eating disorders go untreated the more difficult they are to treat. People suffering from eating disorders are obsessed by eating, food, and their body image. Eating is a constant source of tension and fear. They are likely to have a negative view of themselves, their weight and appearance. Eating disorders lead to serious physical, emotional and social complications. Eating disorders can lead to lifelong abnormal eating habits.

Anorexia Nervosa

The literal meaning is ‘loss of appetite due to nervousness’. However people suffering from anorexia nervosa are usually hungry but have an incredible fear of gaining weight. They may also have a physiological system that means they feel pleasantly calm when fasting but agitated when then eat. They usually eat very little and have clever ways to hide this fact. Symptoms:

  • Eating very little
  • Loss of weight, malnutrition, underweight
  • Loss of menses
  • Light cover of hairs over arms, back and face
  • Fear of weight gain
  • Negative cognitions about self and body image

Bulimia Nervosa

People suffering from bulimia nervosa have periods of binging and purging on food. Some may overuse laxatives. They will hide the binges and purging. Due to fasting, purging and laxative use, malnutrition will occur. Bulimia and anorexia can alternate in the same person. Symptoms:

  • Purging and/or use of laxatives to attempt disposing of extra food
  • Fasting out of fear of losing weight
  • Regular binge eating (eating a lot of food in a short time, uncontrollable need to eat, eating of high calorie food).
  • Feeling lonely, depressed, guilty
  • Possible high intensity physical exercise

Binge Eating Disorder

People suffering from binge eating disorder have an compulsive eating binge twice a week on average. They may struggle with increased weight / overweight complications. Other complications of binge eating are: issues with menses, nausea and stomach ace, diarrhea and obesity. People with binge eating disorder have greater chance of several medical problems such as heart issues and diabetes. Symptoms

  • Compulsive binging twice a week on average
  • Eating a lot of food within short period of time
  • Uncontrollable urge to eat
  • Feeling depressed, lonely or guilt
  • Eating high calorie foods


Orthorexia has not been officially recognised as an eating disorder. People suffering from orthorexia are fixated on only eating the healthiest of foods. They will avoid many foods, which they think are unhealthy. The resulting variety of foods may cause malnutrition and a lack of essential nutrients. Symptoms: Obsession for healthy foods, Limited food repertoire, Eating lots of raw foods, Weight loss, underweight, malnourished Loss of menses, Feeling lonely, depressed, guilty.

Disordered eating

Many men, women, old and young, battle with various eating issues without developing a full-blown eating disorder. Problems include food  compulsive eating, comfort eating, emotional eating, overeating, obesity, under eating, yo-yo dieting, extreme dieting, or occasional binging - see Disordered eating.

Find a therapist

For Eating disorders or Disordered eating see our Eating Therapy Services.