Welcome to the first post in the #SupportSeries. I wanted to post a series outlining where people can access support whether this be from charities, services or national organisations for various health needs. This first post is dedicated to unhealthy eating practices.
Do you know somebody with an unhealthy relationship with food? Maybe yourself? Food is vital for survival and an unhealthy relationship with food can vary from not eating enough calories to eating too many.
If an individual is identified as having an unhealthy relationship with food they may have an Eating Disorder. These are defined as a group of psychological disorders characterised by abnormal or disturbed eating behaviours (NHS UK) This isn’t uncommon either as 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder (and there are many more which go undiagnosed). I have discussed this before during Eating Disorders Week, read it here: “Why Wait?”. Behaviours of an eating disorder can include restricting food intake, eating large qualities of food at once, ridding the body of food by unhealthy means such as purging or misusing laxatives.
It is important to remember that most people who experience eating disorders are within a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) and that eating disorders are not always about food itself, but about an individual’s emotional health. Individuals can manage their emotions and feelings by how they interact with their food.
Myths & Misconceptions of Unhealthy Food Practices;
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration have published some common myths about eating disorders which can prevent individuals from accessing support;
Myth #1 Eating disorders are not serious.
Truth – Eating disorders are serious and can be life threatening.
Myth #2 Dieting is a normal part of life.
Truth – Practicing change in diet and exercise can be safe. However, extreme dieting or unhealthy eating practices have serious health consequences.
Myth #3 Eating disorders are “attention seeking” behaviour or someone going through a “phase”.
Truth – Individuals who experience eating disorders are not seeking attention and they do require support.
Myth #4 Families are to blame for eating disorders.
Truth – The cause of eating disorders are widespread and complex. There is no evidence that particular parenting styles are a direct cause of eating disorders.
Myth #5 Eating disorders only affect middle class white British females, particularly adolescents.
Truth – Eating disorders can affect any one, no matter their age, race or culture.
(Image taken from Beat Eating Disorders Charity)
How To Access Support;
If you yourself experience unhealthy eating practices or if you have concerns about someone you know there are various sources of support available;
- Speak to your GP. Your GP can offer advice and refer individuals to a specialised eating disorder service.
- Speaking to loved-ones. As difficult as this may be, speaking to someone you trust can help individuals access support from specialist agencies.
- Beat Eating Disorders. Beat is the UK’s leading eating disorder charity.
Beat Eating Disorder Charity Support Details:
Helplines services are open 365 days a year from 12pm-8pm during the week & 4pm-8pm on weekends and bank holidays. They have specific helplines for specific needs.
Adult Helpline – 0808 801 0677
Studentline – 0808 801 0811
Youthline – 0808 801 0711
Adult email support for over 18s, professionals or loved ones – firstname.lastname@example.org
Studentline email support for any student – email@example.com
Youthline email support for under 18s – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Helpfinder is an online directory which can search for specialist support in your local area. This can include support from NHS services, independent treatment centres, charities, dieticians and self-help groups. These can be searched by a post code or city. The Helpfinder can be accessed here.
If you would like to contact me directly for more information on support available, please do not hesitate to use my contact page!