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Grief And Eating Disorders

Can grief cause eating disorders? Yes.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits and are in three broad categories.

These are: 1. Binge eating - eating too much.

2. Anorexia -not eating enough.

3. Starvation -not eating at all.

Grieving a loss can shake the individual to the core and throw them off balance both physically and emotionally.

Focusing on food becomes the individual's way of seeking comfort and control. To them, other events are beyond their control, but food is not. So they either eat too much or too little, or do not eat at all to satisfy themselves that they are in control of something.

An eating disorder could develop due to the individual's inability to cope or adapt to the changes. Furthermore, the emphasis on food provides an easy mental distraction from the pain and anguish of experiencing a loss.

While some initial appetite loss is normal when grieving, family and friends need to be supportive to help prevent it from becoming a disorder.

What should be done to help the grieving

  1. Educate the individual on healthy eating habits and nutrition.

  2. Encourage the individual to tell the doctor about their eating habits.

  3. Let the individual know that, they are loved by their friends and family. They do not have to hurt themselves to prove a point.

  4. Do not get frustrated with them or try to force them to change. Choose your words carefully and speak with a calm voice. Remember that they are grieving.

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