An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult. Anyone can experience eating problems and adopt extreme behaviours as a result, explains Dee Swinton, regardless of age, gender, weight or background.
Eating disorder symptoms can manifest as cravings, eating more or less than usual or trying to eat healthier. Changing eating habits every now and then is normal, but if you feel like food or eating
is taking over your life, it may become a problem.
Eating disorders are not just about food or weight though and you don’t have to ‘look sick’ to be diagnosed or need help. An eating disorder can be about difficult emotions or painful feelings that come
at any stage in life as a result of external life stressors or past/present trauma, both of which are not mutually exclusive.
Dorset’s high levels
But the fact remains: eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental health illness and are estimated to affect 1.6 million people in the UK (The Telegraph, Nov 2018).
During the first lockdown in 2020, monthly referrals for eating disorders amongst young people in Dorset rose drastically by 42% according to NHS England, Jan 2022 This isn’t surprising when you consider how the increased levels of anxiety and isolation had such a devastating impact on vulnerable young people. It has now been estimated that Dorset has one of the highest levels of eatimng disorders afmissions in the country.
It’s safe to say that early intervention is of utmost importnace, and ahead of Eating Disorder Awareness week that takes place between 28th February and 6th March, we want to bust the myth about the stigma (and self-stigma) of asking for help. Shame felt by sufferers can result in their silence and reluctance to reach out for support. But by doing so, it can save a life. With treatment, most people can recover from an eating disorder.
Taking the first step to recovery
So, what do you do if you think that you or someone you know might be struggling with food issues?
The first step should always be to seek help from your GP. But if your situation is life threatening, we recommend that you get yourself or your loved one straight to A&E if you can do so safely, or dial 999 and request an ambulance.
Choose your journey
At Dorset Mind, we aim to increase awareness about eating disorders and help support people’s recovery journeys. ‘Restored’ Eating Disorder support comprises professionals with lived experience, who support people (aged 16+) who might be living with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorders or another specified feeding or disordered eating. You don’t have to have a diagnosis to use our services. We provide two pathways to assist recovery: mentoring, and a weekly online peer-support group.
Mentoring provides 1-2-1 support from trained mentors who coach you through an 8-week, CBT based programme.
Our online Recovery Group facilitates weekly peer-support in the form of a discussion group that utilises a 26-week programme.
How to access our support:
To Book your initial assessment with our team email Romy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, this is not a crisis service. Dorset Mind charity supports adults and young people with a range of 1-2-1 and group mental health support, education and training across Dorset. Find out more at: dorsetmind.uk