Eating disorders

Eating disorders – such as anorexia and bulimia – may seem to be about food and weight control, and can be influenced by the media portrayal of thinness and celebrities.

However, the underlying issues are more deeply rooted and include response to trauma, body image insecurities, a sense of lack of purpose, pressure to succeed, low self-esteem, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and family distress. Controlling eating (anorexia, bulimia, over-exercising) or, indeed, letting eating control us (over-eating) is a way to try to manage underlying distress that feels impossible to manage.

It is important to get help as soon as possible – the sooner someone gets the help they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery. If you have concerns about an eating disorder (either for you or someone you know), please talk to an adult you trust or a health professional as soon as possible. See our page on where to get help.

The UK charity Beat (Beating Eating Disorders) has a helpful website with clear explanations about eating disorders, advice and sources of help.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has an extremely helpful factsheet about eating disorders in young people. It is written for parents and carers but has plenty of information for you too.