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Do I Have An Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders can affect anyone, no matter their age, background, race or ethnicity. If you think you might have an eating disorder, here’s how you can seek help…

Having an eating disorder means that your relationship with food has changed. You may use  food in a way that helps you cope with difficult situations or the way you’re feeling. This could involve limiting the amount of food you’re eating, eating a lot of food at one time or trying to get rid of food that you’ve eaten by making yourself sick or fasting. Sometimes people have a combination of these eating disorders.

Types Of Eating Disorder

  • Anorexia – controlling your weight by not eating enough, exercising excessively, or doing both.
  • Bulimia – when you eat a lot of food in a short period of time and then use laxatives or make yourself sick to try to stop yourself putting on weight.
  • BED (binge eating disorder) – feeling like you lose control and binge eat a lot of food, leaving you uncomfortably full and feeling upset and guilty.
  • ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder) – when you avoid or restrict particular foods. This can be due to sensory issues (not liking a certain texture), a low interest in eating or even because of a past distressing experience with food, like choking.
  • OSFED (other specified feeding or eating disorder) – this is the name for when your symptoms don’t exactly match those of the three above, but you still have a serious eating disorder.

Could This Be Me?

People with eating disorders often spend a lot of time worrying about their body shape or weight. You may be eating very little or binging a lot of food and using laxatives or making yourself sick. You might find yourself avoiding events where food may be involved or have noticed your weight being very high or very low for someone of your age. 

Eating disorders can also have a physical effect on your body. You might feel cold, tired or even dizzy. Girls can notice changes to their period, which can stop altogether.

I Think Someone I Know Has An Eating Disorder

There are a few signs you can look out for if you are worried about a friend or family member’s relationship with food. They may have started wearing baggy clothes to try and hide their weight loss or make excuses not to eat with other people. You might suspect that they are lying about how much they’re eating or notice that they’ve become obsessed with exercising.

How To Get Help

Whether you think you have an eating disorder or suspect that someone else does, there’s a lot of help out there. It’s important to see your GP but it can be very difficult for you to speak up and seek help, especially as people with an eating disorder can be extremely secretive about their eating habits and weight. Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, has lots of help and advice to support and guide you in making that first step in seeking help. Head to https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk for more information.

What Comes Next?

There are many different treatments for eating disorders. You may be referred to someone who understands eating disorders, who will talk to you about any support you might need and put a treatment plan in place. Talking therapy is often used to identify the possible causes of your eating disorder and to work through your recovery.

Recovery may seem like a long and difficult road, but you won’t be alone. You can get support from your GP, family and friends, and there are lots of resources, tips and inspirational stories on Beat www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk or Orri https://www.orri-uk.com to support you on your own path to recovery.

Curated by

Vicky Bird
Vicky is a Bacp accredited counsellor and supervisor in private practice in Hampshire. You can contact Vicky via Psychologytoday