What is an eating disorder? 

Eating disorders or problems can be an outward expression of emotional pain and are often a way that people cope with difficulties. It is important to recognise that eating disorders are serious, and can become life threatening illnesses which in many cases are chronic. 


Recognising an eating disorder

Many people suffer from eating disorders, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, and sufferers can come in many different shapes and sizes. You do not need to be underweight or overweight to have an eating disorder or to be at risk of causing harm to yourself.

Some of the more common eating disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). Many sufferers may struggle with symptoms of multiple eating disorders and therefore might not fit into one category. 


Further information and advice

Recovering from an eating disorder can be challenging, but there are many helpful resources and networks to support you if you would like to use them, and if you feel ready to think about this.

  • Student Minds has developed a resource to help students with eating disorders to take positive steps towards healthy minds and healthy bodies
  • The Mind website explains eating disorders, including the possible causes and explains how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family
  • Beat is a charity helping people with eating disorders and providing support for those with emotional overeating and difficulties with food, weight and shape
  • Anorexia and Bulimia Care provides on-going care, emotional support and practical guidance for anyone affected by eating disorders, including parents, families and friends.
  • SEED Eating Disorders Support Service produces a range of useful help and support
  • Men Get Eating Disorders Too is a charity run by and for men with eating disorders including their carers and families.


Seeking help

The Beat website has some tips which might be useful if you are considering telling someone you have an eating disorder.

If you feel ready, you might consider speaking to:


Supporting a friend

You may have a friend or know someone who is suffering from an eating disorder. It can be hard to know where to start to offer support as it can be different for each person.

The Student Minds website provides guidance on what to do to support someone with an eating disorder.