Eating Disorders

Brisbane/Gold Coast – Recovery Support Specialist

Eating Disorders come in all shapes and sizes and all varying levels.They are characterised by excessive concerns about shape and weight leading to a number of harmful, damaging and often obsessive weight control behaviours.

The Australian Centre for Eating Disorders has been set up to provide a network of dedicated and knowledgeable practitioners who are trained to identify and deal with the many complexities of Eating Disorders.

The goal is to provide more support and help out there in the community for those who are ready to take the journey of healing from their disorder. Healing is possible and recovery is possible.

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Eating Disorders

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Charmaine Dunn is a Practitioner trained and registered with The Australian Centre of Eating Disorders for all Eating Disorders, Obesity & Bariatric Surgery Support. If you or someone you know needs assistance please feel free to contact me on 0414303719.

Recovery is stated as:

Recovery is when the person can accept his or her natural body size and shape and no longer has a self-destructive or unnatural relationship with food or exercise. When you are recovered you do not use eating disorder behaviours to deal with, distract from, or cope with other problems. When recovered, you will not compromise your health or betray your soul to look a certain way, wear a certain size or reach a certain number on the scales

(Costin, Monte Nedo Treatment Centre, 2008).


What are the Eating Disorders?

Of course, when you think eating disorders – anorexia comes to mind, however, there are many eating disorders including sub-categories. So I’m going to start here with the most common – Binge Eating Disorder.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating DisorderDid you know that Binge Eating Disorder is one of the most common of the eating disorders? Possibly 50% of seriously overweight/obese people will report frequent binge eating.
Binge Eating is categorised by

  • Frequent episodes of a large amount of food consumed in a short space of time. These binges will be accompanied by a loss of control over eating and an inability to stop the binge.
  • Other factors – such as eating very quickly, eating without being hungry and eating to a level of discomfort when already full
    Feelings of guilt, shame about the amount of food consumed during a binge and the way in which the food was eaten. Secretive behaviours around food, often choosing to eat alone.
  • Binges often occur at times high emotion eg stress, anger, boredom or distress.

Binge eating tends to result in weight gain, which sets off a path of sporadic fasts, cleanses, chronic yo-yo dieting & restriction which almost always leads to more binge eating and the cycle continues, sometimes for years and years without a diagnosis. Binge Eating Disorder can affect anybody, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. In fact, research suggests equal percentages of males and females experience Binge Eating Disorder.


Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is characterised by recurrent bingeing (large qualities of food) followed by a purge or other compensatory behaviour.
A person with Bulimia Nervosa usually maintains an average weight, or maybe slightly above or below average weight for height, which often makes it less recognisable than serious cases of Anorexia Nervosa. Many people, including some health professionals, incorrectly assume that a person must be underweight and thin if they have an eating disorder. Because of this, Bulimia Nervosa is often missed and can go undetected for a long period of time.

It is normally dieting and restriction that leads to the destructive cycle of bingeing and purging. However, the more strict and ridged the diet becomes the more likelihood that deprivation and inadequate nutrition can trigger an obsession with food and a starvation reaction – an overriding urge to eat, it is the bodies way of balancing, it is asking for nutrition. As hunger and deprivation build to the point when the compulsion to eat becomes too powerful to resist, they binge on whatever food is available (often foods with high fat and sugar) this is then followed by guilt and self-loathing, then a compensatory behaviour – vomiting/laxatives/excessive exercise etc. and a desperate need to wipe the slate clean.

A repeat of weight-loss dieting often follows, leading to a binge/purge/exercise cycle which becomes more compulsive and uncontrollable over time.



Whilst not currently formally recognized in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), Orthorexia is increasing as “clean eating” has become more and more popular.

Orthorexia, while having some similarities with anorexia nervosa, is an excessive obsession with “clean”, “pure” or “healthy” food, although what this means will differ from one person to another.

For some, it means avoiding certain social situations because of concern that food is not going to be “clean”, it can mean removing whole food groups or cutting food out that is seen as unhealthy, unsafe or simply bad, without medical precedent. It can mean feeling highly anxious and/or guilty when the “right” food is not available or when deviating from the strict guidelines they conform to. It can mean an obsessive concern over the relationship between food choices and health issues. When “clean eating” becomes obsessive and somebody is beginning to change their behaviours to focus on the obsession and away from a balanced approach to life, then there is a problem.


Night Eating Syndrome

Again not formally recognised in the DSM, Night Eating Syndrome forms part of the OSFED. Night Eating Syndrome includes recurrent episodes of night eating (75% of calories eating at night), either excessive food consumption after the evening meal or excessive food consumption after awakening at some point during the night from sleep.

In some cases, the excessive eating is done in a trance/sleep state with no memory of the episode the next day.


Anorexia Nervosa

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most deadly disorder of all and that is Anorexia Nervosa.

Whilst Charmaine does work with and support people who have Anorexia Nervosa in their history, especially those who have other current eating issues, she does not work with acute and active cases of Anorexia, please refer to ACFED list of approved practitioners who can treat acute cases or feel free to contact Charmaine who will be happy to refer to acute treatment practitioners/facilities.

Anorexia is not a lifestyle choice, it is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterised by self-starvation and excessive weight loss and an obsessive fear of gaining weight.

Restricting food and weight loss can be a way of controlling areas of life that feel out of their control. Body image and how thin they are can become everything, a way to define their entire sense of self-worth. Emotions that may feel too complex or frightening to deal with such as anxiety, stress, trauma, depression may find expression through restrictive dieting and obsessive behaviours.

It is common to think Anorexia is only diagnosed in young adolescence females, however, Anorexia whilst normally has an onset at adolescence can affect male and females at any age or stage of life.

Other Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviours surrounding weight and food issues. They are serious eating disorders and can be life-threatening.

The same is true for a category of eating disorders known as EDNOS (eating disorders not elsewhere specified). These serious eating disorders can include a combination of characteristics or symptoms typical of anorexia and bulimia, but not meet all the criteria for diagnosis.

Other conditions such as Orthorexia & Night Eating Disorder would fall into the EDNOS category.

Disordered Eating

Disordered eating is behaviours and/or symptoms that may reflect part of the same criteria as eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or OSFED. Long-term disordered eating may or may not lead to an eating disorder, but the damage that disordered eating causes is not to be underestimated.

Common disordered eating examples include:

  • Fasting or chronic restrained and restrictive eating
  • Binge eating
  • Skipping meals
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Chronic yo-yo dieting
  • Unbalanced eating (eg restricting/removing whole food groups)
  • Laxative, enema or diuretic abuse
  • Steroid use
  • Diet Pills/Other drugs (Prescription or otherwise)

Long-term disordered eating causes many issues physically, mentally and emotionally, it may or may not lead to a diagnosed eating disorder but healing your relationship with food and body is possible…

Regardless of the food/eating/body/weight issue you have, help is available. Please contact Charmaine for further information or to discuss your specific circumstance.


Initial Consults & Assessment Sessions are approx. – 2 – 2 1/2 hours $260.00

4 & 6 Session packages available just ask.

Subsequent Consultations of 90mins are $150.00

Contact Us to organise your session




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