Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and a host of others can happen to anyone – any gender, any race or ethnicity, and importantly, any age. And yet, all too often the focus on eating disorders is placed squarely on adolescents – sometimes to the detriment of adults who are struggling with eating disorders and preventing them from finding avenues to get help.
Adults with eating disorders face unique challenges that are often not considered or addressed by the eating disorder community at large. For one, adults with eating disorders often have more life experience and responsibilities than adolescents – they may be married, have children, hold down a job, and so on. This can make it difficult to find time to focus on recovery, or even to get to appointments with eating disorder specialists. Additionally, many adults with eating disorders have a long history of struggling with the disorder than adolescents, which can make treatment more difficult. And finally, adults may be more likely to face stigma and judgment from others for having an eating disorder, which can prevent them from seeking help in the first place.
Why Eating Disorders Appear in Adulthood
It’s natural to gain weight as you age. The body’s metabolism slows as you grow older, and the ability to eat what you like without gaining weight fades with time. Other factors such as pregnancy also naturally cause people to gain weight. In an ideal world, a person’s health would not be determined by their BMI or body size but rather by the idea of HAES, or Health At Every Size. Instead, fear of gaining weight and the sense of being able to control everything about your body is a very prevalent cause of eating disorders.
Of all the behavioral symptoms of eating disorders, the most common might be frequent dieting and counting calories. This focus on weight gain prevention or weight loss becomes more common in adults over 30. With the natural tendency to gain weight in adulthood taken into accord, this tendency toward dieting becomes even more pronounced.
Treatment is Available for Adults
While eating disorders in adults can be difficult to treat, adults can recover and live happy, healthy lives. With the right treatment plan, which may include individual therapy, group therapy, and/or medication, adults with eating disorders can make a full recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please us a call! Avalon Hills is dedicated to the care and treatment of women of all ages.