Are your eating habits making you unwell or unhappy?

We all know people who eat weird things or don't like stuff like chocolate (yes it is possible!) or who are really picky about what foods they will or won't eat.

If you know that you have gone beyond this and what you are doing is really different to most people, you may have an eating disorder. Maybe you are punishing yourself for something by not eating, think you are the wrong shape or size, or maybe you comfort eat and can't stop.

Eating disorders don't just mess with your shape and size but they ruin your health and make you miserable. They can also stop your brain working at its best and affect your ability to study or to work. Especially if you spend most of your life being obsessed with your weight. If you don't get it sorted you could even die.

If you think you have an eating disorder, you won't be alone.  Anorexia and bulimia affect around 1 fifteen-year-old girl in every 150 and 1 fifteen-year-old boy in every 1000.

Do you have an eating disorder?

A questionnaire used by doctors asks:

  • If you answer “yes” to two or more of these questions, you may have a problem with your eating.
  • do you make yourself sick because you're uncomfortably full?
  • do you worry that you’ve lost control over how much you eat?
  • have you recently lost more than 6 kilograms (about a stone) in three months?
  • do you believe you’re fat when others say you’re thin?
  • would you say that food dominates your life?

Take the test 

Deanne Jade, Principal and Founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, has created a quick and simple quiz for Net Doctor to determine whether you have an eating disorder. Take the quiz now.

The next steps

If you think that no one has noticed, you may be right. So the first thing is to admit it to yourself and then tell someone you trust. Sooner or later someone else will notice and get worried, so save some time and start getting it sorted yourself. Here are some good sources of support and information:

  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists leaflet has a lot of information about what these disorders are like and what can be done about them
  • Find out about anorexia and bulimia and get expert information and advice from Anorexia Bulimia Care. They have a befrienders scheme where you can be supported by someone who has recovered. You can also share your experiences on the young people's blog page
  • Overeaters Anonymous welcome everyone who is a compulsive eater wanting to stop. They have local branches to support you in Cambridge, St Neots and Godmanchester.
  • B-Eat is a charity with expert help on eating disorders. Helpline for under 25s: 08456 347650. Their website has details of local therapists, counsellors and services, online and local support groups, live chat and online blogs, lots of ways for sufferers to get help and support each other. The nearest local support groups are in Norwich at the time of writing this entry.

CPFT has specialist services to help you at The Phoenix Centre. Find out more by watching this video from Eating Disorder Awareness Week featuring consultant psychiatrist Dr Jane Shapleske:

Katie, 21, had anorexia from the age of 14 to 19. She shares her experiences of life with anorexia and explains how she recovered from the eating disorder.

It's not just a girl thing

It's a common misconception that eating disorders are only suffered by women. Boys don't cry? has information for lads including about eating disorders. 
In this video, young men talk to Youth Health Talk about their experiences. 

Boyanorexia is a website created by the mother of a boy who almost died when he became anorexic at the age of 12. You can find lots of information about eating disorders there including triggers and signs, tips for dealing with it, case studies where you can see how other people were affected and find links to other organisations who can help you. She tells you about a blog which was maintained until 2012 by a bloke who was a sufferer or bulimia and what he has to say might help you even though he was a bit older.

There is also a site for men, Men Get Eating Disorders, too! which offers a forum and live chat at certain times as well as loads more information and advice for male sufferers of all ages.

The BBC health website can tell you all about eating disorders and suggest books to read and people to help you. Watch their videos on anorexia, overeating and bulimia:


There are also many private practioners and counsellors who can be paid to help you. Talk to your doctor or get help to find one through a register kept by Anorexia and Bulimia Care.

The page was last updated on 30 April 2018 by andrea.bateman.

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