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Food and Fear: Navigating Eating Disorders with Liberty Home

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have a devastating impact on a person’s physical and emotional health. They are characterised by an unhealthy relationship with food and can lead to a wide range of physical and psychological problems.

Liberty Home is a residential treatment centre that specialises in the treatment of eating disorders. We understand the complex nature of these illnesses and offer a comprehensive approach to treatment that addresses the physical, emotional, and social aspects of eating disorders.

Understanding Eating Disorders

There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterised by self-starvation and weight loss and is caused by an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming overweight. It usually develops during adolescence or young adulthood and tends to affect more women than men.

People with anorexia may restrict their food intake severely, or they may engage in unhealthy behaviours such as excessive exercise or purging.

Symptoms that may occur as a result of anorexia include: 

  • Dizziness or fainting from dehydration
  • Brittle hair/nails
  • muscle weakness 
  • Heartburn 
  • Severe constipation, bloating and fullness after meals
  • Depression, irritability, anxiety, and fatigue

In severe cases, anorexia can result in heart, brain, or multi-organ failure and death.

Treatment for anorexia nervosa involves helping people learn how to normalise their eating and weight control behaviours and restore their normal weight. Medical treatment of any co-occurring psychiatric or medical condition is an important part of the treatment plan. 

Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa, like anorexia, usually develops during adolescence and early adulthood and is less common among men than women.

People with bulimia frequently eat unusually large amounts of food in a short space of time until they are painfully full. This behaviour is often followed by purging. Common purging behaviours include forced vomiting, fasting, laxatives, and excessive exercise.

During a binge, the person usually feels that they cannot stop eating or control how much they are eating.

Side effects of bulimia may include an inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands, worn tooth enamel, tooth decay, acid reflux, irritation of the gut, severe dehydration, and hormonal disturbances. 

In severe cases, bulimia can also create an imbalance in levels of electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. This can cause a stroke or heart attack.

People with bulimia nervosa can be slightly underweight, normal weight, overweight or even obese. If they are significantly underweight, however, they are considered to have anorexia nervosa binge-eating/purging type, not bulimia nervosa. 

Binge-eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is a condition where a person eats large amounts of food in a short period of time and feels a loss of control over their eating behaviours. It typically begins during adolescence and early adulthood, but it can develop later on.

Unlike people with bulimia, people who have binge-eating disorders don’t compensate for it through purging behaviours like vomiting, fasting, or misusing laxatives. 

Binge eating disorders can lead to serious health complications, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

As with bulimia nervosa, the most effective treatment for binge eating disorder is either individual or group-based cognitive behavioural psychotherapy.

Common symptoms of binge eating disorder include: 

  • Eating large amounts of food rapidly, in secret, and until uncomfortably full, despite not feeling hungry
  • Feeling a lack of control during episodes of binge eating
  • Feelings of shame, disgust, or guilt when thinking about the binge eating behaviour

People with binge eating disorders often consume an excessive amount of food and may not make nutritious food choices. This may increase their risk of medical complications such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Rumination disorder

Rumination disorder is a condition where a person regurgitates food after they have previously chewed and swallowed. They then re-chew it and then either re-swallow or spit it out. This usually happens within the first 30 minutes after eating. 

People with rumination disorder usually require therapy to resolve it.

If not resolved in infants, rumination disorder can result in weight loss and severe malnutrition that can be fatal.

Adults with this disorder may restrict the amount of food they eat, especially in public. This may lead them to lose weight and become underweight. 

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is a new name for an old disorder. It used to be known as the “feeding disorder of infancy and early childhood.” AFRID is an eating disorder that involves a disturbance in eating, resulting in persistent failure to meet nutritional needs and extreme picky eating. It may be caused by the following: 

  • Low appetite and lack of interest in eating or food.
  • Extreme food avoidance is based on sensory characteristics of foods, e.g. texture, appearance, colour, and smell.
  • Concern about consequences of eating, such as fear of choking, nausea, vomiting, constipation, an allergic reaction, etc. (AFRID may be a result of past trauma)

Food avoidance or restriction can start at any age, but it commonly develops in early childhood. 

Unlike anorexia and bulimia, people with ARFID do not have excessive concerns about their body weight or shape. 


Pica is an eating disorder where a person repeatedly eats things that are not food with no nutritional value. This behaviour often continues over time and can require medical attention. 

The substances people eat when they have pica change depending on age and availability and may include paper, ice, dirt, soap, hair, string, chalk, metal, pebbles, soil, and paint chips. 

Pica can affect a person at any time, regardless of their age, but it’s most common in children. It is most frequently seen in people who suffer from intellectual disabilities, developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, and mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. 

People with pica may be at an increased risk of poisoning, infections, gut injuries, and nutritional deficiencies. Depending on the substances ingested, pica may be fatal.

Treatment for pica involves testing for nutritional deficiencies and addressing them if needed. Behaviour interventions used to treat pica may include redirecting the individual from the nonfood items and rewarding them for setting aside or avoiding nonfood items.

Eating disorders can have a profound impact on a person’s physical health. They can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and a variety of other health problems. Eating disorders can also have a significant impact on a person’s emotional health. They can cause anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a distorted body image.

The Role of Liberty Home in Treating Eating Disorders

Liberty Home offers a comprehensive approach to the treatment of eating disorders. Our program includes medical treatment, therapy, and support.

Our medical team provides nutritional counselling and monitoring, as well as treatment for any underlying medical conditions. Our therapists provide individual, group, and family therapy to help clients address the emotional and psychological aspects of their eating disorders. Our support team provides guidance and support to help clients navigate the recovery process.

Navigating the Path to Recovery with Liberty Home

The recovery process from an eating disorder is a challenging but rewarding journey. With the right support, it is possible to overcome an eating disorder and reclaim your life.

At Liberty Home, we believe that recovery is a team effort. We work closely with our clients to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses their individual needs. We provide the support and guidance you need to succeed in your recovery.

Liberty Home is here to support you through this journey. We believe in your potential to recover and lead a fulfilling, healthy life. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Remember, the journey to recovery is a path you don’t have to walk alone. With our comprehensive care and unwavering support, we can navigate this road together. Reach out today and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.