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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Do I have an eating disorder?

    I binge eat with periods of starving myself due to the guilt of eating too much. Then I go back to binging because I'm so hungry.

    I use laxatives but don't purge. I have spoken to my GP about my eating but he hasn't offered support, such as referring me to an eating disorders clinic.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Mariela Occelli

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Mariela Occelli is a Clinical Psychologist with well over 20 years experience in the assessment and treatment of clinical disorders. She has worked in private … View Profile

    Your question implies that you are using laxatives for reasons other then their intended purpose and perhaps also excessively? Your GP may not be concerned if you are taking ‘fibre supplement’ laxatives which are relatively safe to use in the long term. However, as you are probably aware (given that you are expressing concern about your use of laxatives) long term use of certain laxatives can lead to serious health impacts such as dependency, bowel dysfunction and even electrolyte imbalances. Taking laxatives for weight control alone does not necessarily signal an eating disorder. However, laxatives do not assist weight loss and you may find it useful to speak to a Clinical Psychologist experienced in the assessment and treatment of eating disorders to get clarity around your compulsion to take laxatives and your feelings about your body image. An experienced clinician can help you understand the problem and find effective strategies to address it. I would be interested to know more about your body weight height ratio and your eating habits as well as your ‘emotional state’. 

  • 2




    Sharon Brooks


    Sharon, a Registered Nutritionist RNutr and Food Scientist runs a nutrition consulting business that specialises in proactive nutrition and disease prevention.Sharon runs corporate, school and … View Profile

    Hi There,

    You may not have an eating disorder as what is clinically defined as one. However, you certainly display disordered eating. Binging, starving and use of laxatives are certianly not considered healthy eating practices. It is a shame your GP has not identified this. I recommend consulting a health psychologist or a dietitian/nutritionist trained in this area. 

    Healthy eating practices are just as important as the food itself.

    All the very best   

  • 1




    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    An eating disorder is illustrated when you do not have a good relationship with food.  You should be eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are comfortable. Binge eating illustrates an inability to control the amount of food you are consuming – this may be due to a number of reason, perhaps emotional, stress, fatigue, compulsion, anxiety. The starving yourself and the feeling of guilt are negative responses to the binge. Eating should not create these feelings. The use of laxatives is common amongst people with eating disorders as they do not want to gain weight or feel bloated when they binge. If you feel you do not have the power over the food you consume you should be seeing an eating disorder specialist to determine what is causing these uncontrolled binges. It is important that your eating habits are normalised for you to lead a more balanced life as the binges and starvation periods can affect you emotionally, your self image and self confidence. Triggers must be identified for you to overcome these problems. I suggest you see your General Practitioner or a Dietitian who can refer you to the appropriate specialist.

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