Eating Disorder Awareness Week is a campaign run by Beat to put eating disorders in the spotlight.
Eating Disorder Awareness Week
Eating Disorder Awareness Week is a campaign by Beat to put eating disorders in the spotlight. Each year Beat and its supporter's campaign on behalf of those affected by eating disorders raises funds to support the charity’s services, and many affected to share their experiences.
Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity. Founded in 1989 as the Eating Disorders Association, their mission is to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders. Beat has a national Helpline to encourage and empower people to get help quickly, they support family and friends so they can help their loved ones recover whilst also looking after their mental health, and they campaign to increase knowledge among healthcare and other relevant professionals, and for better funding for high-quality treatment.
So, what is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses affecting people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. People with eating disorders use disordered eating behaviour to cope with difficult situations or feelings. This behaviour can include limiting the amount of food eaten, eating very large quantities at once, getting rid of the food eaten through unhealthy means (e.g. making themselves sick, misusing laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise), or a combination of these behaviours.
What types of eating disorders are there?
Most people will have heard of anorexia or bulimia as two of the more commonly used forms in media, but there are 8 different variations of eating disorders.
- Anorexia Nervosa: Where people are of low weight due to limiting how much they eat and drink
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): When the person avoids certain foods or types of food, has restricted intake in terms of overall amount eaten, or both
- Binge Eating Disorder: Where people eat very large quantities of food, often over a short period of time, without feeling like they’re in control of what they’re doing.
- Bulimia Nervosa: A cycle of eating large quantities of food (called bingeing), and then trying to compensate for that overeating by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or exercising excessively (called purging).
- Orthorexia: An unhealthy obsession with eating “pure” food
- OSFED: Other Specific Feeding or Eating Disorder is an umbrella ED diagnosis term for when a person’s symptoms don’t exactly fit the expected symptoms for other EDs
- Pica: A feeding disorder in which someone eats non-food substances that have no nutritional value, such as paper, soap, paint, chalk, or ice
- Rumination disorder: This involves repetitive, habitual bringing up of food that might be partly digested
For further information, click here
How to recognise if you have an eating disorder?
Professor John Morgan at Leeds Partnership NHS Foundation Trust designed the SCOFF screening tool to indicate a possible eating disorder. A score of two or more positive answers is a positive screen.
The SCOFF questionnaire:
- Do you ever make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
- Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?
- Have you recently lost more than One stone in a three-month period?
- Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
- Would you say that Food dominates your life?
For more information on how to recognise eating disorders, click here
“I think I have an eating disorder, what can I do?”
For well-being support within the University, arrange an appointment with the student wellbeing team
Call the Beat Helpline to discuss your concerns for specialised support and information.
- The helpline is open from 9am – midnight during the week, and 4pm – midnight on weekends and bank holidays. It's free to call from a landline or mobile.
- If you're in England, contact the Helpline on 0808 801 0677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you're in Scotland, contact the Helpline on 0808 801 0432 or email Scotlandhelp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk.
- If you're in Wales, contact the Helpline on 0808 801 0433 or email Waleshelp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk.
- If you're in Northern Ireland, contact the Helpline on 0808 801 0434 or email NIhelp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk.
- You can also get in contact via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
The best next step is to book a GP appointment. Recovery is possible at any time, but it’s important to try and seek help as early as you can, as this can help in recovery. The earlier you can get treatment, the better your chances of recovery. We have put together an information leaflet for people to take with them when they go for an initial appointment, with sections for people with eating disorders or concerned they have one, those supporting them, and the GP. The leaflet aims to get you a referral to a specialist who can assess your personal needs and develop a plan for your treatment.
Are there any self-help mechanisms?
One of the self-help mechanisms recommended by Beat are BLAST Distraction Techniques. These are potentially helpful ways of distracting yourself from the urge to use eating disorder behaviours or from other difficult thoughts and feelings. The suggested distractions are for when you're Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stressed or Tired (BLAST) with the aim to help provide distraction and ease any difficult emotions that you might be feeling positively, rather than using unhealthy behaviours.
The best way to distract yourself will vary from person to person, so think about what you would find most helpful. It could also be worth considering which distractions will be quicker to do/require little effort from you and which ones will be more involved and require more effort, as you might also have different needs at different times.
To see what distraction techniques Beat recommends, click here
How can I support someone with an eating disorder?
If you’re worried about someone, then it’s important to encourage them to seek treatment as quickly as possible to ensure the best chance of recovery. But treatment is only one aspect of the recovery journey. There are ways outside of their treatment programme that you can play a vital role in helping them get better, regardless of your relationship to them. This can range from being a listening ear, to going to the supermarket with them and supporting them after mealtimes. Each person is different and will need different things, but this will give you some ideas about how to help. And remember, one of the most important things you can do for them is looking after yourself.
For more tips for supporting someone with an eating disorder, click here
Realising that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder can be frightening, but remember that full recovery is possible, and support is ALWAYS available from Beat, the Staffs wellbeing team, and your friends and family. Realising that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder can be frightening, but remember that full recovery is possible, and support is ALWAYS available from Beat, the Staffs wellbeing team, and your friends and family.
If you need support regarding eating disorders, whether you are affected by one yourself, are supporting someone who is affected by an eating disorder, or you are worried about someone who might be affected by an eating disorder, you can seek support here:
Beat: 0808 801 0677
Mind: 0300 123 3393
Papyrus: 0800 068 4141 / https://www.papyrus-uk.org/