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An Intro to Eating Disorders

posted by Scott Williams

An Intro to Eating Disorders



When thoughts, feelings, and behaviours around eating and weight begin to interfere with everyday activities, it is possible we are coping with an eating disorder. Too much focus on our body or eating can lead to missed opportunities in other parts of our lives, not to mention affect our overall well-being. These preoccupations can lead to severe physical and emotion problems (

There are many factors that can influence the development of an eating disorder, including societal and familial factors. People who are struggling with their self-image and identity can be at risk, as can people who have experienced a traumatic event. Sometimes, an eating disorder is a product of how a person has been raised and taught to behave. Usually, an eating disorder is a sign that someone has deep emotional difficulties that they are coping with (


Self Test for Eating Disorders (Adapted from

If you suspect that you might have an eating disorder, this self “test” might help you. Note, this tool will NOT decide for you that you have an eating disorder, but it may help you decide if you would like to speak with a counsellor about your thoughts and actions surrounding food.

The questions presented involve behaviours and feelings that are common in someone coping with an eating disorder.

  • Do you skip meals on a regular basis?
  • Do you binge and then self-induce vomiting?
  • Do you feel out of control when you eat?
  • Do you feel powerful and in control when you are able to abstain from eating?
  • Do you binge on food when you are experiencing negative feelings? (ie. anger, sadness, etc.)
  • Do you feel that you do not deserve to eat?
  • Do you know the calorie content in the foods that you eat?
  • Do you believe you are fat, even though people tell you otherwise?
  • Do you feel that you have to be perfect in everything that you do?
  • Do you use laxatives, diet pills, or diuretics as a method of weight control?
  • Do you exercise to burn calories, rather than to stay fit?
  • Are you secretive about your eating habits?
  • Are you secretive about your exercise?
  • Do you feel anger towards anyone that questions your eating habits?
  • Do you scrutinize yourself in the mirror or avoid looking in the mirror entirely?
  • Do you hear negative messages in your head (ie. saying you’re fat, ugly, worthless, etc.)
  • Do you work out in spite of illness or injury?
  • Do you avoid social events because there will be food present and/or because you are worried about your physical appearance?
  • Do you think about food constantly?
  • Has your diet become increasingly restrictive?
  • Do you make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you give up social activities or work obligations because of a compulsive need to maintain your workout and/or diet schedule?
  • Do you become extremely anxious in the case of missed workouts?
  • Do you believe that life will be perfect and you will be happy if you lose weight?
  • Do you have an intense fear of gaining weight?
  • Do you feel ashamed of your eating behaviors?
  • Do you feel that no matter what you do, it will never be good enough?
  • Do you think that you may have an eating disorder?


If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it could be a sign that you might benefit from working with a counsellor. If you are unsure, it never hurts to talk with someone just in case. If you would like to see one of our counsellors you can call our Intake Team at 519.884.0000 to get started. Remember, we offer both in person and online video counselling.

If you’re not sure if counselling is for you, you can try out a single session at our weekly Walk In Counselling Clinic. Walk in any Thursday between 12-6pm and see a counsellor for up to 90 minutes. You’ll leave with a written plan to work on and many clients tell us they feel better after just one session.

You can also check out the services related to eating disorders at CMHA here.

If you are in crisis you should visit a hospital emergency room or call Here 24/7 at 1.844.437.3247. In an emergency, call 911.