2nd – 8th March 2020 is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and many people are doing their bit to help open up the conversation.
The statistics are deeply saddening, with Beat reporting a staggering 1.25 million people in the UK currently living with an eating disorder and the Telegraph highlighting a 37% increase in the last two years in hospital admissions as a result of these disorders.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial that we work together to create more of an open dialogue around the topic and provide people with safe spaces to address their struggles and concerns.
What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are widely misunderstood and stigmatised. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the three main types; they are mental illnesses which, broadly speaking, manifest themselves in the form of irregular eating habits as well as a harmful and distorted self-image.
The dietary irregularities may include restricted or excessive food intake, both of which can be extremely damaging, mentally and physically. However, eating disorders can vary greatly in how they present themselves. This means that it can be hard to diagnose them. Below, we have listed some of the signs that could indicate an eating disorder
- Continuously spending time worrying about your weight and body shape
- Avoiding social events that may include food
- Eating very little or excessive amounts all at once (this is known as binging)
- Making yourself sick or taking laxatives after eating
- Excessive amounts of exercise
Below is a list of the warning signs to look out for in someone else:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Lying about weight, as well as how much and when they have eaten
- Often going to the bathroom after eating
- Excessive exercise
- Eating away from others
- Cutting food into small pieces or eating very slowly
- Wearing loose or baggy clothing to try and hide weight loss
For a full list of the signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with disordered eating, please visit the NHS website. If you notice any of the above in yourself or a someone else, please know that there is help available and that the best course of action is to speak up so you can get the support that’s needed.
Who is affected by eating disorders?
Young women, aged 13 to 17, are most commonly affected. However, anyone of any age can get an eating disorder – and this includes the friends and family members of those who have been diagnosed. For this reason, Beat estimates there are actually around 5 million people in the UK that are directly affected by eating disorders.
Let’s Beat Eating Disorders
Beat is the largest charity working to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders. Their online platform has a host of information and advice with three different helplines that are designed to guide people to the support they need.
Below are further resources which may be useful:
Anorexia Bulimia Care