An eating disorder (ED) is defined as a mental health condition where one copes with emotions or other situations through food.
This could be by not eating enough, binge-eating, restricting oneself from eating certain foods, following strict eating habits in an unhealthy manner or over obsessing over foods (what is in the food? how caloric are they? what have you eaten before? Can you allow yourself to eat that? How many calories have you burnt that day, enough to eat that?).
In some cases, an ED can be caused by another mental health condition or in some cases an ED can lead to another mental health condition, examples of these are anxiety or depression which can either cause or be caused by an ED. There is a large range of ED’s, but the most common types are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorders. Often ED’s are also accompanied by over-exercising in order to burn more calories than you take in.
Anyone can be diagnosed as having an ED, no matter their gender identity.
How can the University Support you?
The University can help you in a few ways if you think you might have an ED or if you have already been diagnosed.
You can receive support through the Mental Wellbeing Team. If you would like to talk to someone about an undiagnosed or diagnosed ED, you can contact the Mental Wellbeing Team by filling out the Online Referral form.
Alternatively, you have the opportunity to meet with First Steps Eating Disorders which is an external charity located in Student Services which specialises in supporting individuals who suffer with an ED.
What to do next?
Contact your GP
Set up an appointment with your GP to get support from them.
What should I do if I am worried about somebody else?
Firstly, it is important to know that you are not obligated to support anyone with an ED. It can be very difficult to support someone with an ED but if you feel like you can and want to help you can follow the below steps. If you want to help someone but do not feel like you are able to do it you can talk to someone that you trust, this could be a hall/community warden or Subwarden or someone from the Student Mental Wellbeing Team.
If anyone is in immediate danger you should contact emergency services by calling 999 or contacting campus security by calling 0800 526966.
There are a few simple things you can do to help support someone who you think may have an eating disorder:
- Tell the person you are worried about them – Be prepared though that the person may not realise they have an eating disorder, or they may deny that they have it or be secretive and defensive.
- Support them in receiving support from the University either by helping them to complete our Online Referral form or by seeking support through the First Steps Team by completing their online referral form
- If the person is refusing to seek support but you have concerns for their safety or wellbeing you can contact the Mental Wellbeing Team through the University’s Wellbeing referral form
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have an Eating Disorder?
If you are worried that you may have an unhealthy relationship with food, then you may have an eating disorder.
The NHS listssome symptoms of eating disorders as:
- Spending a lot of time worrying about your weight and body shape
- Avoiding socialising when you think food will be involved
- Eating very little food
- Making yourself sick or taking laxatives after you eat
- Exercising too much
- Having very strict habits or routines around food
- Changes in your mood such as being withdrawn, anxious or depressed
Further information about some typical symptoms of an Eating Disorder are available on the NHS Website.
Is it only women who can experience Eating Disorders?
No, any person regardless of their gender Identity can experience an Eating Disorder.
I’m worried about talking to someone about having an Eating Disorder, what advice can you give me?
If you feel unsure you could think aboutpotentially talking close friends and family members, or maybe a member of the University’s Mental Wellbeing Team or the First Steps.
Think about what you might like to say, it may be helpful to write down how you are feeling and what the person might be able to do to support you in getting help.
Remember you can talk in whatever way suits you best, you might want to do it in person but if you don’t feel confident in speaking to someone face to face you could also think texting them or speaking to them over the phone. The most important thing is to do what feels most comfortable to you.
It’s normal to feel scared about talking to someone, especially if this is the first person you’ve spoken to about how you’re feeling.
Further advice about talking to someone about having an eating disorder is available on the Beat website.
I’m worried about going to talk to my GP, have you got any advice?
It is normal to feel nervous or fearful about seeing a doctor to talk about having an eating disorder. It may be worth thinking about taking someone with you like a friend or family member to support you during the appointment.
It may also be worth writing down any questions you many have had, any symptoms you may have experienced or any behaviour that you may be worried.
Further advice about talking to your GP is available on the Beat website.
Details for how to register with the Loughborough University Medical Centre is available here.
Last Updated: 4th September 2022