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Updated : August 1, 2022 4 mins read

Eating disorder | Support for AFYP

Updated : August 1, 2022 4 mins read

Article Eating disorders

Common questions about eating disorders

Only girls have eating disorders

Not true. A higher percentage of girls and women have eating disorders compared to boys and men but eating disorders can affect anyone. Remember, an eating disorder is a mental illness not a fad or trend. Young men can experience the same thoughts and feelings about their bodies as women do which can lead to disordered eating.

Everyone says I’m looking great so what I’m doing can’t be that bad

It’s important to remember that making changes to what you eat or how you exercise can be healthier and great for your body and wellbeing. Making some healthy changes can help you to feel more confident and strong. This is different to an eating disorder where you start to look at food differently. If you find that you begin to use food and exercise as a form of self punishment, if you start to find it hard to switch off from thinking about food and calories or any of the other signs of eating disorder, then this might signal there is something else going on.

Why can’t I just eat?!

Some people describe having an eating disorder like having two brains. One, the logical brain, tell you that you need to eat, that how you control eating is not healthy and this will be the last time you binge, purge, or restrict what you’re eating. However, the other is your eating disorder brain. That’s the voice that tells you to keep going, that things will be better once you reach a certain weight. It can also be the voice that criticises you, says you’re not good enough, thin enough or strong enough. This battle between the two can be the difference between thinking and knowing you should eat more or better and actually being able to carry it out. Eating disorders isn’t about the food, it’s about your feelings. Getting help to understand why you feel you need to control your food and body can help you to strengthen that logical brain.

Can you recover from an eating disorder?

Yes you can recover from an eating disorder but it can take time before you feel that you are. Some people find that once they have addressed the issues that caused their eating disorder that they can move forward. Others might find that they have to work hard to stop themselves from slipping back into the cycles of eating disorders. Regardless, there is hope for everyone who has an eating disorder to get to a place where you are happier, healthier and feel in control rather than food controlling you.

5 Tips for eating disorders

  1. It’s not your fault. Eating disorders are serious illnesses and there is help out there for you.
  2. Talk to someone you trust. This might be a friend, family member, peer support group or an eating disorder helpline.
  3. Write a letter to yourself about your hopes for the future and recovery. Read this back to yourself on days where eating is challenging.
  4. Find ways to reward yourself that aren’t food or exercise based.
  5. Prepare for difficult times of the year. If you’re worried about certain times of the year, like Christmas, plan ahead. If being around food or feeling pressured to eat more triggers your binge cycle then maybe try to plan some time out of the house. Going for a walk or having some time on your own to relax can help you to cope with those harder situations.

Getting help

The first step in getting help is to tell someone.

Speaking about your eating disorder might make you feel worse to begin with, this is a normal reaction because you might feel worried about what’s going to happen next. Some people feel that without their eating disorder they don’t know who they are. Getting the help you need will help you to overcome this.

Ways to get help:

  • Speak to your GP
  • You might be referred to Child & Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHs)
  • Contact an eating disorder charity

Eating Disorder Charities

Get Help now

If you are concerned about your mental health, or if you have found yourself feeling concerned about someone else, you can:

Call 111 – NHS 24

Call 116 123 – The Samaritans

Call 0800 83 85 87 – Breathing Space

Text: ‘YM’ to 85258 – Young Minds crisis chat

If you think you are in danger of hurting yourself or other people, you should call 999 or present to your local A&E department.