Eating disorders are almost always about low or fluctuating self-esteem.

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This is what Anders Kongsrud writes in Modum Bad's magazine Badeliv nr 1/2014.


Terribly hurt self-esteem

- Getting anxiety just by eating a slice of bread, looking at yourself in the mirror and pointing out all problems you have with yourself, feeling terrible, and just having a single thought in your head that says "you are fat, you're too ugly to go out, get slimmer!"..., well, to experience life like this, is really just awful.

However, this is a common experience in people with an eating disorder, according to Anders Kongsrud.

- Many young people today are dissatisfied with their own body and want to "correct" it. When you become so preoccupied with food, body and weight that it destroys your quality of life, then you have an eating disorder, says Kari Anne Vrabel who is a psychologist with a doctorate in eating disorders and with 15 years of experience from the specialized treatment facility, Modum Bad.

According to an article in Modum Bad's magazine "Badeliv", eating disorders are widespread, and they affect not only individuals - but the whole family and the network around the affected individual.


Control over emotions through control over food

Anders Kongsrud further writes:

- What professionals believe to know is that eating disorders are almost always about low or fluctuating self-esteem. And often about problems with feeling and dealing with emotions. It can be said that eating disorders are in many ways an embodiment of both emotions and thoughts.

Many may find that they have no control over thoughts and feelings. The person can then find the solution to the emotional problems in the food, and thus the difficulties can occur in different ways:


  1. One solves one's uncontrollable feelings, relationships or life situation by striving to control food, body and weight. 
  2. One resolves the feeling of confusion and despair by vomiting, and thus gets a feeling of purification.
  3. One solves a feeling of inner emptiness by filling oneself with lots of food.
  4. You solve a feeling of chaos by eating so full that you become numb in the body and the emotions.


In other words: Different approaches to food and eating become very concrete strategies that are intended to deal with the difficult feelings and thoughts.


Calls for preventive action

The psychologist specialist believes that the health service should to a far greater extent be concerned with a preventive perspective in meeting people at risk of developing eating disorders:

- There is no reason to take for granted that external performance is the same as internal satisfaction. Experience shows that neither the best grades in school nor good sports performance automatically means that a person has high self-esteem.

- We as parents are important factors. Very relevant questions are how well informed we are and how high expectations we have. Do we know enough about snapchat, instagram and facebook? There is enormous pressure on young people today. It is important that we as parents talk to children and young people in a preventive perspective, Vrabel emphasizes to Badeliv.