Health

UK-Based Support & Advice For Coping With An Eating Disorder

Online forums, phonelines, and meet-ups.

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It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it all sorts of anxieties and worries. However, one of the more unexpected outcomes of the pandemic has been a focus on food. It’s pretty hard to get away from people talking about the weight they’ve put on during lockdown or – on the opposite end of the spectrum – the weight-related "goals" they set themselves to achieve during isolation. And that’s before the "new year, new me" mantras began appearing on our social media feeds. For some, these types of messages are not only annoying, they are triggering. If you have experienced disordered eating of any kind, there are resources and helplines dedicated to providing information and support during this time.

Doctors have reported a significant increase in eating disorder cases during the coronavirus pandemic, which they believe is down to the stress and uncertainty felt throughout 2020. Speaking to the Times, Karen Street, child mental health officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: “Eating disorders are often related to a need for control, something many young people feel they have lost during the pandemic. Many have described needing a focus and goals which, in the absence of anything else, has for some centred around eating and exercise.”

However, according to figures from the NHS, hospital admissions for children (18 or younger) with eating disorders were already on the rise before 2020, increasing by almost a fifth in the past two years and a third among all age groups.

If you feel isolated and in need of someone to speak to about your own experiences, or if you're worried about someone close to you, below is a list of resources that may help.

BEAT

BEAT is one of the leading eating disorder organisations in the UK, with pages that outline the different kinds of eating disorder diagnosis and how to seek help. They have an area on their website dedicated to how the pandemic may have affected people experiencing disordered eating and pages that speak specifically about eating disorders among men.

If you’re an adult (18+) you call call BEAT on 0808 801 0677 or email help@beateatingdisorders.org.uk.

If you’re a student you can contact them on 0808 801 0811 or email studentline@beateatingdisorders.org.uk and if you’re under 18 you can call 0808 801 0711 or email fyp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk.

Their helpline is open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends and bank holidays at 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Orri

If you’d like to learn more about the symptoms of different eating disorders, how they may affect your thoughts or mood, and where to reach out for help, then Orri is a very useful resource.

You can call Orri at 0203 918 6340 or email askorri@orri-uk.com. They also have an online form you can fill out.

The National Centre For Eating Disorders

The National Centre For Eating Disorders wants to break down the barriers and stigma that so often prevent people from getting the care they need. Their website details different recovery options and what counselling may entail.

You can contact the National Centre For Eating Disorders on 0845 838 2040.

ABC

Anorexia and Bulimia Care has provided support for people living with any eating disorder diagnosis for 25 years. They also offer assistance for anyone who has a loved one experiencing disordered eating.

You can call ABC on 0300 011 1213 between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesdays to Fridays.

Overeaters Anonymous

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) provides community and support for people who are recovering from compulsive eating. They provide a step-by-step recovering programme as well as and a chance for people to get together to share their stories.

Contact details for local OA groups can be found here.

Project Heal

Project Heal runs a blog which shares people’s stories, some of the struggles people have when accessing help, and coping mechanisms from people have been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

You can contact Project Heal via their online form to ask about treatment access options.

F.E.A.S.T

F.E.A.S.T-ed (which stands for Families Empowered And Supporting Treatment for Eating Disorders) is a community for parents of children with eating disorders. They share resources that explain different conditions and the treatment options available.

You can call F.E.A.S.T at +44 3308280031 or email parentsupport@feast-ed.org to reach an experienced parent who can help you find resources and information to help you and your family.

SEED

This group was set up in 2000 by people with firsthand experience of eating disorders. SEED's volunteers are on hand to offer advice and share information.

The SEED adviceline is open 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. every weekday on 01482 718 130

Eating Disorder Support

An organisation providing help and support for those experiencing problems associated with eating and their loved ones. Eating Disorder Support also runs a twice-weekly self-help group via Zoom that is confidential and open to all.

You can speak to a volunteer at Eating Disorder Support on 01494 793223 at any time, on any day. You can also email them on support@eatingdisorderssupport.co.uk.

Other useful resources

Mind

Mental wellbeing and eating disorders are very closely linked, so consulting resources such as Mind may be helpful in the journey to recovery. Throughout 2020, they’ve developed a section on their website about how the pandemic may have affected your mental health and ways to cope.

You can call Mind anytime on 0300 123 3393, email them at info@mind.org.uk, or text 86463.

Better Help

Better Help is a counselling service which seeks to make recovery accessible, affordable, and convenient at the point of need.

Find out more on their website.

The Mix

The Mix supports young people between the ages of 16-24 with with their mental wellbeing.

You can contact The Mix anytime on 0808 808 4994 or text Shout (an organisation they have partnered with) on 85258.