Eating Disorders

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is when someone has an unhealthy attitude towards food.

That can mean eating too little or too much. Someone with an eating disorder can also become obsessed with weight and body shape.

Eating disorders can make them ill and take over their lives. Everyone can develop an eating disorder at any age.

Its important to know that eating disorders can be very serious but there are ways to help.

Eating disorders

Types of eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa

Keeping weight as low as possible by not eating enough food and/or exercising too.


Eating a lot of food in a very short amount of time. This is sometimes called ‘binging’. After a ‘binge’ people with bulimia make themselves sick on purpose, use laxatives, limit what they eat or do too much exercise.

Binge eating disorder (BED)

Often losing control of how they eat. That might include eating large portions of food until they feel uncomfortably full. This is sometimes called ‘binging’. After ‘binging’ people with BED will often feel distressed or guilty.

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)

When the type of eating disorder isn’t exactly the same as the different types we’ve talked about above but still seriously affect health and relationships with food. Most people with eating disorders fit into this category.

Things to look out for if, the Warning signs...

  • Have they had a dramatic weight loss?
  • Are they lying about how much they eat and when they’ve eaten?
  • Are they lying about how much they weigh?
  • and when they've eaten, or how much they weigh
  • Are they eating a lot of food very fast?
  • Do they often go to the bathroom straight after eating?
  • Do they too much and/or too often?
  • Do they avoid eating with friends, family or in public?
  • Do they cut their food into small pieces or eating really slowly?
  • Do they wear loose or baggy clothes to hide the way they look?

If you’re worried, start a conversation. You can encourage your child to go to the GP, you can also find lots of help, advice and support through the organisations below.

Find Help here for anorexia, bulimia & another eating disorders...

The Mersea Island Festival has been an annual event each August at Essex Outdoors Mersea. The Festival aims to bring together young people with or without a physical or learning disability. The camps are ideal for Inclusive clubs, Phab and Gateway clubs, Youth Groups and families with disabled young people. They provide an opportunity to try out new activities, make new friends and have loads of fun!!!

Anorexia & Bulimia Care

ABC provide practical and emotional support as well as on-going therapy to those with an eating disorder in the UK.
They have a helpline as well as online discussion groups for friends and family too.

eating disorder expert

The Eating Disorder Expert gives extensive information on the signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. They also have a very good article about advice for parents.

BEAT provide a variety of eating disorders support services through helplines and message boards as well as factsheets and advice about all kinds of eating disorders.

Eating Disorders Support

Eating Disorders Support's aim is to gather together as much information about the various different types of eating disorders, related problems and treatment options and present the information in a way that people can access easily.

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Men Get Eating Disorders Too is a charity run by and for men with eating disorders including their carers and families. Their website provides essential information that is specific to the unique needs of men and an online space for those affected to get their voices heard through peer support via our face to face groups and online.

Young Minds

Young Minds has lots of ways to help children and young people who are experiencing any kind of mental health problem. They run a range of schemes to help promote good mental health in schools across the UK as well as guidance towards more 1 to 1 support. There is also a managed service by young people for young people to be able to talk with someone who understands their problems.

You can also call the Young Minds Parent's Helpline on: 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm, free for mobiles and landlines)


Here are some other places you can find help, information and support. They may not be eating disorder specific but as broader mental health charities, they'll have lots of help that you might find really useful.


CAMHS is part of the NHS mental health services, specifically dedicated to children and young people in England. They can provide a range of services and people to help including help from psychiatrists, psychologists, support workers, nurses and occupational therapists.

The Mix

If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need.

Family Lives is a parenting and support network for anything family related. They provide a variety of services including a confidential UK helpline and forums. There are also lots of helpful videos and blogs.

The Counselling Directory

Find local help here

NHS Psychological therapies

Click here to Find local NHS Psychological therapies and services.

Browse all mental health support

Use our directory to find lots of other charities and organisations here to help you and your whole family.

Not sure where to turn?


Contact our helpdesk

Do you need specific help for your disabled or special needs child? Click here to tell us more about what you're looking for and our helpdesk team will do their very best to find you what you need. All of our advice is confidential and we will not share your details or personal information with anyone.