Getting support with eating disorders

We all eat differently, and we all like different foods and to eat in different ways.  An eating disorder is when you have an unhealthy attitude to food, which can take over your life and make you ill  

Disordered eating can involve eating too much or too little or becoming obsessed with your body shape and weight.  An eating disorder is a medical diagnosis based on your eating patterns and medical tests on your weight, blood and body mass index (BMI).  An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult.

If you feel you may have an eating disorder or eating problem, you are not alone.  Eating problems and disorders are treatable and you can make a full recovery.  This article provides information on these conditions and the help and support that is available to you.

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Types of eating disorder

The most common eating disorders are:

  • anorexia nervosa – when you try to keep your weight as low as possible by not eating enough food, exercising too much, or both
  • bulimia – when you sometimes lose control and eat a lot of food in a very short amount of time (binging) and are then deliberately sick, use laxatives (medicine to help you poo), restrict what you eat, or do too much exercise to try to stop yourself gaining weight
  • binge eating disorder (BED) – when you regularly lose control of your eating, eat large portions of food all at once until you feel uncomfortably full, and are then often upset or guilty
  • other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) – when your symptoms do not exactly match those of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, but it does not mean it's a less serious illness

For more information on the different types of eating disorders, see the links above to the NHS website.

Where to go for information, help and support

If you think you may have an eating disorder, you must get professional help as soon as possible.  Early intervention is very important when treating this condition.

For information on the causes of eating disorders and problems, how to check if you have an eating disorder and how to access help and treatment see the following websites:

The NHS website also has information if you think someone you know has an eating disorder and you would like to offer them support.

Body image

Body image is how you feel about and see your body.  A healthy body image is essential to your health, happiness and overall wellbeing.  A negative body image is often linked to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.  Someone with a negative body image may also go on to develop an eating disorder.

For information on how to develop a positive body image see the Mind You article on body image.

There are several YouTube videos available showing how images in the media can be manipulated to distort our perception of beauty.  This can have a negative impact on a person’s body image.  See the following links for

Further information and guidance

A list of recommended books on eating disorders and body image can be found in  Reading Well which are a range of self help books available in audio form and book form.

The Mind You website has a list of organisations that offer help and support with contact details and relevant links.

You can also read the following article about bullying, which can be linked to eating disorders or negative body image. The article covers the different forms of bullying and how to get help and support.

The South Gloucestershire Mental Health and Wellbeing Directory of Services provides a place for children and young people, their families, and professionals to get quick, easy and direct access to up-to-date mental health and wellbeing information in South Gloucestershire.