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What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating Disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are not a lifestyle choice. The consequences of eating disorders are potentially life threatening. Eating Disorders do not discriminate. They can affect young children, elderly, all genders, all cultures and people of all body shapes and sizes.

There are four eating disorders that are recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which are:

Eating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9% of the Australian population, with an increase to 15% for females. And the rate is increasing. They have amongst the highest fatality rates of any psychological disorder, and only 25% of Australians with an eating disorder are known to the health system.

Warning Signs

It is common for an eating disorder to go undetected for a significant amount of time. Eating disorders may be secretive by nature, therefore warning signs may be hard to detect, and symptoms of an eating disorder might be the first indication that a person is experiencing psychological distress. It is important to note that warning signs or symptoms that may appear to be early indicators for eating disorders may actually be indicators for other health issues, such as depression or pregnancy. Learn more about warning signs here.

Other Disordered Eating Presentations

Although the follow presentations have not been recognised by DSM as a 'true-type' of eating disorders, they are serious and lead to physical and psychosocial health implications.

  • Pica

  • Rumination Disorder

  • Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

  • Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder

  • Food Addiction

Recovery: a collaborative and accountable approach

Early detection and intervention is critical to successful outcomes. People who have had an eating disorder for less than 2 years are likely to respond more quickly to treatment and experience a shorter duration of illness with fewer physical health consequences.

Overcoming an eating disorder or any type of disordered eating, requires assistance from more than one expertise or therapy approach. It is clear that eating disorders and addictions fall under the banner of mental health so if you haven't already connected with a Psychologist or Counsellor we encourage you do. Your GP is also a key person towards your long term health. Your GP can also confirm if you're eligible for access to a Medicare Eating Disorders Plan (EDP). If you feel you need in home supports, it can come from family members, friends, visiting nurses, an outreach program or your church. Accountability is the key to long term success, so turn up to each appointment and keep to the appointment intervals set out by your professionals you are part of your team.

From Elke, you can expect a high-level of ongoing support to change your eating behaviours, break those food rules, and change the way you think about food and body image. You will gain skills that help you change your eating habits and move towards a way of life where food no longer dominates your thoughts. Given that Elke suffered and recovered from Bulimia Nervosa, means that she totally understands what it's like to live with an Eating Disorder. She also knows what it is like to have joy brought back to eating. Your sessions with Elke are personalised to provide nutrition counselling that is aligned with current best-practice standards in the treatment of Eating Disorders.

Where to get more help?


  • The National Agenda for Eating Disorders 2017-2022 (The Butterfly Foundation)

  • National Eating Disorders Collaboration

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