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Eating problems are not just about food, they can be about difficult and painful feelings that the person may be fighting hard to face and resolve. A lot of people think that if you have an eating problem you will be over- or underweight and that being a certain way is always associated with a specific eating problem. This is simply not true. Anyone, regardless of age, gender or weight can be affected by eating problems. The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and other specified feeding or eating disorder or OSFED. It's also possible to have a very difficult relationship with food and not fit the criteria for any specific diagnosis. Eating disorders can be caused by an individual's genetics and biology and these causes can raise the risk of developing eating disorders. Some causes of eating disorders may be due to a history of eating disorders in the family, depression, alcohol or drug addiction if there has been a criticism of eating habits, body shape or weight. An individual may be overly concerned with being slim due to society pressures, their job for example, if they're athlete, a model or an air steward. An individual may also have anxiety, low self-esteem, an obsessive personality, or be a perfectionist.

Signs that may indicate that someone has an eating disorder include dramatic weight loss, which they may try to hide by wearing baggy clothing; they may eat large quantities of food very quickly or cut food into small pieces and then eat them very slowly. Someone with an eating disorder may lie about or be cagey or evasive if asked about when they last had something to eat or what they have eaten. If someone visits the toilets multiple times after eating and has a flushed appearance, this may also be a sign of an eating disorder. Individuals with an eating disorder might also avoid socialising when they know that will involve eating in company. They may use laxatives and become obsessive about exercising. There are many organizations that offer help and advice about eating disorders. These include the charity Beat, beateatingdisorders.org.uk, or in the first instance, you can call the NHS or 111 for advice and guidance.