Eating disorders and disorganised eating

Student life can be hectic and many students find that their eating becomes a bit disorganised during their time at university, maybe skipping meals or eating in the middle of the night. For some students, however, food can become more of an issue with overeating or food restriction, sometimes combined with over-exercising, forced vomiting or laxative use. This can be triggered by stress or a sense of needing more control over life and is particularly common in high-achieving, perfectionist young people. Students often tell us that they feel they don't have a 'proper' eating disorder because they are still coping in many ways. It is true that the body can cope with quite extreme malnutrition or variable intake for a long time, but it can also be very dangerous.  Untreated eating disorders can cause problems with low mood, anxiety, sleep ,concentration, recovery from illness or injury and can be harmful for your heart, your bones and your fertility.

If you have concerns about eating or your body shape/weight then answering the following questions might help you to decide whether you may have disordered eating:

  • Do you make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than one stone (6kg) in a 3 month period?
  • Do you believe yourself to be fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that thoughts of food dominate your life?

If you answer “yes” to 2 or more of these questions then you might have difficulties that constitute an Eating Disorder. Even if you don't, but find that you are constantly thinking about food, feeling guilty about food or restricting food, you are likely to have elements of an eating disorder. If so, you are not alone. Many Bristol students - male and female - seek help, support and advice because they have a problem with food. Unfortunately, many more suffer in silence or are too frightened that making any changes or 'getting better' will mean a loss of control for them. We understand that this can be very difficult and would encourage you come and talk to us even if you are not sure whether you want anything to change right now. You may just want to have a chat, you may feel ready to get help, you may just want to know about your options. Don't hesitate to talk to us and feel free to bring a friend or book a telephone consultation if that feels easier.

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