Eating disorders are complex illnesses that often lead to severe disturbances in thought patterns and behaviors. A key time when behaviors and thought patterns are illuminated is during meals. Those affected by eating disorders may dread or fear eating and experience anxiety, anger, and depression during mealtimes.
What does Someone with an Eating Disorders Experience During Meals?
Individuals affected by eating disorders often cite mealtimes as a significant cause of distress. Since eating disorders typically accompany an intense preoccupation with food and body, they lead individuals into disordered eating patterns like restricting, bingeing, or purging. These patterns become solidified over time and become harder to challenge and break. In addition, those affected may experience significant distress over meals. Possible reactions and responses to meal times can include:
- Anxiety, fear, or distress of the impending meal
- Fear of the food served
- Anxiety about eating, especially eating in public
- Lack of appetite
- Emotional disturbance
- Negative thought patterns like “I hate myself for eating this”
- Unrealistic thought patterns such as “If I eat this I will become fat”
- Activation of the body’s flight or fight response
- Refusal to eat
- Depression, anxiety, or experiencing an intense need to compensate after the meal is over