Eating Disorders

At Primrose Lodge we treat individuals who suffer from mild to moderate eating disorders. Severe eating disorders usually require more of a hospital environment in order to manage the individual’s physical health and the disorder more effectively. Eating disorders often present as a co-occurring illness in individuals with addictions. They can use the addiction as a way of escaping or managing the relationship that they have with food. It is an individual’s attitude and subsequent behaviours around food that determines if they suffer from an eating disorder. Eating disorders, in all forms, are life threatening and can carry devastating consequences to the individual’s physical, mental, emotional and social health. It is important to get professional help immediately if you or a loved one are suffering from this deadly illness.

An Illness of Extremes

Eating disorders can swing from one end of the scale to the other; from undereating and Anorexia Nervosa to overeating and binge eating disorder. Other manifestations include Bulimia Nervosa and Food Restricting. Below is a breakdown of the common characteristics of each type of eating disorder and the associated dangers. It is important to remember that eating disorders are serious mental health illnesses; they are unlikely to better or be managed without the correct professional treatment. An individual does not necessarily have to be severely under or overweight to have an eating disorder; this can make it more difficult to spot. No matter how the illness presents itself, it causes the sufferer huge amounts of discomfort and distress, as it affects all areas of their life and the lives of those that are close to them.

Do You or a Loved One Have an Eating Disorder?

Eating Disorders can take on many forms and have varying characteristic behaviours. Here we have listed the most common types of Eating Disorder to help you identify if you or a loved one may have a problem with food that requires professional help.

Anorexia Nervosa – Individuals with Anorexia Nervosa often suffer from the condition known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder; this is where they have a deluded perception of their own body image. Even when extremely thin, they will still be convinced that they are too fat and that there is no such thing as “too thin” There is an overwhelming compulsion to lose more weight. In order to satisfy their fixation with weight loss, they will severely restrict their food intake, obsessively exercise, abuse laxatives or resort to taking a drug that suppresses their appetite. This is a very serious condition that can lead to a whole host of physical health conditions including organ failure, infertility, bone loss, brain damage, and death.

Bulimia Nervosa – Bulimia Nervosa sufferers have periods in which they consume large amounts of food in one sitting. Following a binge, they will experience extreme feelings of guilt, shame and regret; these feeling propel them to get rid of the food they have just eaten and so reset their body to just before the binge. The process of getting rid of the food is known as Purging; often they will make themselves vomit, take laxatives or excessively exercise to purge the food from their body. Those that suffer from Bulimia tend to have an average body weight; their Bulimia is kept a secret and so it can be difficult to spot the signs. They often suffer from BDD and an inability to process emotions. This illness can also be deadly and result in severe dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, internal bleeds, malnutrition, heart problems and death.

Binge Eating Disorder – Those who suffer from binge eating disorder regularly lose control over the amount of food they consume. They will continue to eat, despite not being hungry, but they do not purge themselves. They are obsessed with food and eating and tend to eat on emotions with food providing the comfort they seek. Those who have Binge Eating Disorder risk becoming obese and developing related conditions such as heart disease and type II diabetes. Individuals with binge eating disorder have no control over the amount of food they consume once they start to eat. Often they will experience feelings of guilt, shame and regret after binging.

Causes of Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires professional treatment to overcome. Many believe that eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are triggered by social pressure and media to look a certain way. There may be some truth in it, but only for those that are predisposed to developing the condition. Eating disorders are often very complex and there is no quick fix or pill that can take away the illness. Some are more susceptible to developing an eating disorder than others. Where they are susceptible the following can be a trigger for the condition developing:

  • A family history of eating disorder, substance abuse, depression or mental health illness
  • Been criticised for their weight, body shape, or eating habits at a young impressionable age
  • A desire to be thin because of a particular activity such as modelling, athletics, or dancing
  • An obsessive personality, low self-esteem, or an anxiety disorder
  • Experience difficulty in processing emotions and expressing how they feel
  • Experienced a traumatic event such as the death of a loved one, or suffered emotional or physical abuse
  • Difficulty dealing with stressful situations at home, at school, or at work

Underlying Mental health illness such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) or Depression

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Most individuals who suffer with an eating disorder find it incredibly difficult to admit they have a problem and seek help. The feelings of shame they have around their condition are extreme and this leads them to keep covering it up at all costs. When challenged, they are usually defensive and resentful; as admitting they have a problem would lend to further probing and challenging as to why they aren’t addressing it. For someone with an eating disorder to ask for help, they really have to have reached a rock bottom physically and emotionally with the disorder. The thought of giving of the disorder is terrifying, as they do not know how to live without it. Their brain is conditioned to obsess around food; they cannot see a life without it the constant torturous thoughts.

If you are worried a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, it is vital that you seek professional advice and support around the correct treatment. It is not nearly as simple as eating less or more of the right foods. Someone who has an eating disorder may exhibit the following signs and symptoms:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • An obsession with being thin and never being thin enough
  • Extreme fear of gaining weight
  • A distorted body image
  • Severely restricted eating
  • Excessive exercising
  • Abusing laxatives
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Fine hair on the body known as downing
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Lower than average BMI

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Swollen glands in the jaw or neck area and inflamed sore throat
  • Dehydration
  • Stomach problems from laxative use
  • Gastrointestinal problems and acid reflux
  • Sensitive teeth from recurrent vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Low self esteem
  • Preoccupation with eating/starving/dieting


Binge Eating

  • Higher than average BMI
  • High cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Tendency to isolate
  • Poor self image
  • Low self esteem
  • Preoccupation with food/dieting


Most individuals with an eating disorder will feel uncomfortable eating in front of others. They will find excuses not to eat in public or at the family dinner table. They will feel very uncomfortable with others watching and possibly monitoring their eating habits; they will feel pressured to eat “normally” which invariable they find incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to do.

Primrose Lodge Eating Disorders Programme

Treating an eating disorder can prove more complex that treating alcohol or drug addiction. Successful treatment of these conditions requires complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Everybody HAS to eat in order to survive; for an individual with an eating disorder, food (or lack of) and the associated behaviours become the drug of choice. Challenge this and they feel completely out of control and in a state of extreme panic and discomfort.

At Primrose Lodge, we understand how terrifying it is for a patient to face their eating disorder and admit to us for treatment. We will assist in anyway we can to support them through their treatment and make the necessary changes. The treatment programme will be individualised to the person and the condition or conditions that they present. Our therapists and Counsellors are trained in treating eating disorders, and so will deliver a treatment package that is aimed at challenging and changing the individual’s attitude towards food and the perception they have of themselves. Our treatment programme is very supportive and intensive; we treat the root causes of the illness and challenge and change its manifestations. Patients will receive various proven therapies for their low self-esteem and negative self-image; this often goes far deeper than the physical. They will be encouraged to eat a nutritious balanced diet that is adapted to their individual physical and emotional state.

Treating Eating Disorders is challenging; but we believe they can be successfully overcome and permanent recovery obtained with the correct treatment programme. We will do all we can to support you and your loved one through their recovery journey. Freedom from food addiction is possible; we have the knowledge and expertise to help.

If you need help for an eating disorder or if you are concerned about a loved one, get in touch with Primrose Lodge today!

“My life had become a hopeless cycle of binging on drugs and trying to control my eating. I literally wanted to die as found my existence too painful to bare. I was sceptical that treatment would help me; thank God I was wrong! Primrose Lodge have changed my attitude towards food; I no longer see it as the enemy. Yes I have to work at it on a daily basis, but the payoffs are immense. A day at a time I have freedom from food and drugs; my life is worth it today and so am I”

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Call Now 0203 553 9263
Call Now 0203 553 9263

Call Now 0203 553 9263

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