Are you worried about an eating disorder?
Many people, in their lifetime, may have concerns about what they are eating or their body image and may look into different types of diet and exercise because of it. Having an interest in what they are eating and how it may affect their body shape doesn’t mean that they will develop an eating disorder.
What are eating disorders?
An eating disorder tends to be based in an unhealthy obsession about body image, body weight and/or food and these become a problem when they begin to affect your physical or mental health and well-being. Many young people with an eating disorder do not seek help, but instead try to hide it from their family and friends.
- It is important to look at the reasons why you have developed an eating disorder
- Males can also develop eating disorders, its not just for girls
- Use the contacts at the bottom of the page to get help
Symptoms of eating disorders can include:
- Excessive dieting or overeating
- Thinking and talking a lot about body image, body weight and food
- Avoiding places that involve food or eating
- Eating only certain types and amounts of food
- Becoming irritable or withdrawing from friends and family
- Wearing loose fitting clothing to hide weight loss
- Wanting to eat alone
- ‘Playing’ with food rather than eating it
- Excessive exercise
- Feeling faint, dizzy and weak
- Going to the bathroom straight after meals
- Difficulty concentrating
- Often feeling tired and low
The most common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. Eating disorders are more common in females, but also affect males, and they can have a very serious effect on your life, and can be life-threatening. Early detection and effective treatment increases the chance that you will do well. Look at the contacts below to see who can help.
People with anorexia might:
- Refuse to eat enough food even though they are hungry
- Have a fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though they are underweight
- Have the wrong perception of their body
- Not admit they have seriously lost weight
- Stop having menstrual periods (if female)
- Exercise excessively
- Force themselves to vomit after eating, or use tablets (like laxatives) to reduce their weight
People with bulimia might:
- Repeatedly binge eating large quantities of food that is often high in fat or sugar
- Feel out of control when bingeing
- Try to make up for binges and avoid weight gain by making themselves vomit, or by using laxatives , fasting, or excessive exercise
People with bulimia often have a compulsive cycle of binge/ purge/exercise/binge. They usually manage to keep to a healthy weight, so the problem is hard for others to recognise.
Health problems from eating disorders
Eating disorders can lead to serious physical health problems. Malnutrition or cycles of bingeing and purging can cause damaging changes in the body. Starvation, for example, can lead to osteoporosis (weakening of the bones), kidney problems, headaches, constipation or diarrhoea, fainting and heart problems. Vomiting after eating can expose the teeth to stomach acid and cause decay, and also cause sore throats, heart problems and abdominal pain.
Eating disorders can also lead to difficulties in concentrating, then problems in studying or at work. They also increase the chance of having depression, anxiety, substance misuse, irritability and moodiness. It is important to look at the reasons why you have developed an eating disorder.
Is it because you fear being bullied because of your body shape? not fitting in? or what you see in the magazines? If you want to chat online with someone about anything that’s worrying you click here to use the Childline chat that works like MSN messenger. This is for young people up to and including 19 years old.
If you feel you have an eating disorder, its worth visiting your GP for a health check, just to make sure you haven’t put your body at any risk. If you are 16 years old and still in school or you are at college you could speak with the school nurse who can offer you a health check.
Getting help for an eating disorder
Help is available from your GP, college counsellor and specialist services that are trained in helping you overcome an eating disorder. If you are worried that a friend or family member has an eating disorder, then first of all let them know that you are worried and care about them. Even if they deny there is a problem and do not want to talk about it, gently encourage them to seek professional help.
For more information about how to get help look below.