Friday, 27 February 2015

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Another mental health awareness topic you ask? This week it's Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and what better excuse to spread the word about healthy eating and most importantly, healthy living. I nearly forgot about this hugely important week believe it or not. I have been off work the past few days and living like a hermit so to speak. Along with this, there's also the fact that this national awareness week isn't hugely publicised in the media either. But why? Does this mean it is less important than raising money for cancer or comic relief? More on that later...

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the clinical lead for the eating disorders service at work, and I was astounded at what she had to say. Obviously, I knew a lot of the facts already (yes, I did my research), but to hear that women as old as eighty are being hospitalised for various eating disorders was truly heartbreaking. When we think of eating disorders, we often think of young innocent teenagers going through puberty. WRONG. Eating disorders affect everyone, from the old to the young, male and female, black or white. 

So who is to blame? Nobody. Clinical research has found that nobody is to blame for these truly awful mental illnesses, not you or your child, your partner, or the media. Obviously it can be genetic in the sense that if one was to see their parents not eating correctly, this may influence their outlook on food. The media also has a huge part to play in influencing how our children of tomorrow look. The 'skinny ideal' isn't actually that ideal at all. Yet, there is no significant link between this and eating disorders. 

Eating disorders are likely to occur between the ages of twelve and twenty five, but as noted earlier, can also occur in older women/men. There are various signs to look out for, including; loss of appetite, over exercising, making yourself sick or being afraid to eat, many of which I experienced. My unhealthy relationship with food began around the age of eighteen. I remember noticing a change in my body shape - I began to develop wider hips, boobs, and all those other parts men seem to love, but (most of) us women hate. I believe this is where my obsession with food began. I started to work out three or four times a week, and would also calorie count to the point where I was afraid to eat anything remotely unhealthy. I wanted to be slimmer and punished my body as a result. By controlling what I ate, I felt empowered, when all I was really doing was putting my body at serious risk...

Even though I somehow managed to control my unhealthy obsession with food, even to this very day, I have my moments of weakness where I feel I must punish myself unless I have put my body through a vigorous workout. From an outsiders perspective, eating disorders are often overlooked (they are still considered a taboo subject for many)What onlookers fail to understand is that these are serious mental illnesses and therefore shouldn't be treated any differently to any other illness. They are often thought of as being a 'phase', but I know too well, when you are in that frame of mind, it is hard to control your thoughts. My thoughts often overwhelmed me. I wanted that Mcdonalds more than anything but the guilt that came with eating it, was too much.

Remember, there is a fine line between watching what you are eating/working out, and becoming obsessed. The scary thing is the lack of beds and support out there for sufferers. Again this comes down to the fact that eating disorder aren't widely recognised as being mental illnesses. I am showing my support by tweeting something positive about myself after sharing this blog post. I urge you to do the same. Alternatively, if you want to find out more about Eating Disorders Awareness Week click here. Remember you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you back...

What are your thoughts on eating disorders? Have you ever experienced any of the symptoms listed above?


  1. I had an eating disorder and it definitely felt like I was punishing myself at times, but for me it was just a control thing. Whenever my life veered out of control and I felt like everyone had crazy expectations on me I'd just become fixated with controlling how I looked. And yeah, eating disorders are really underrated as mental illness es, it's like people think it's a “choice." It really pisses me off.

    1. Yeah I can definitely relate to that! What eating disorder did you have? I agree - there needs to be more support out there. Its shocking how many beds there are available, and the lack of knowledge surrounding these disorders. If there was more support from an early age, this would reduce the amount of hospital admissions and save the nhs a whole lot of money. Xxxx

    2. EDNOS, I think the subtype is atypical anorexia nervosa? Basically, I had the same behaviour pattern but my weight was always considered “normal."

      Yeah, I've seen a lot of media about how mental disorders are just as legitimate as physical illness but then they shy away from eating disorders. Not to mention, any media representations of eating disorders are often wrong. I mean, I'm inclined to think that eventually more light will be brought to it, I just hope it's sooner rather than later.


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