Eating Disorders Awareness Week is taking place this week, 1st-7th March 2021.
What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you think about food and eating?
We all need food; without it we won’t last long; but the act of eating is about far more than providing our bodies with the nutrition we need to stay healthy. Life’s milestones are celebrated with food; we all enjoy cakes for birthdays and weddings! Think about those dinner dates with friends or partners; as humans we love to share food when we get together. Lots of us have missed this simple pleasure over the last year.
But for many people food and eating is complicated and stressful. Around 1.6 million people in the UK struggle with an eating disorder.
We tend to think of it as more of a problem that affects women, but 11% of that 1.6 million are male. It can affect us at any age although it is more common in young people between the ages of 14-25.
For those of us who struggle with an eating disorder it can be very isolating and frightening. It’s often a secret illness that sufferers go to great attempts to hide until there are obvious physical signs. Even then, the sufferer can struggle to acknowledge there is a problem.
So, what can we do if we have someone close to us who we think might have an eating disorder? It can feel stressful, frustrating and bewildering. We can feel very helpless.
The good news is that there is help and support out there for sufferers and their loved ones.
Beat is a leading eating disorder charity that provides education, support and help. They have a telephone helpline open 7 days a week. You can find their website at: www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk and the helpline number is 0808 801 0677.
If you have an eating disorder, talking through what is happening for you with a counsellor can give you a safe and confidential space to help you work out a way forward and start on the path to recovery.
If you are supporting someone with an eating disorder, counselling can give you a space to talk and gain strength.
Sufferer or supporter; you are not alone.