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Expert Q&A | Eating Disorders

ConnorConnor Deactivated Posts: 508 Incredible Poster
edited March 2022 in Health & Wellbeing
Hey all :)

We have another Expert Q&A for you this weekend, all about eating disorders (right on time for Eating Disorder Awareness Week!). Here's everything you need to know...

Who are the Experts?

We'll be joined by 2 experts from Beat - the UK's eating disorder charity. Here's a bit more about them:
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Our mission

We are the UK’s eating disorder charity. Founded in 1989 as the Eating Disorders Association, our mission is to end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders.

What we do

Our national Helpline exists to encourage and empower people to get help quickly, because we know the sooner someone starts treatment, the greater their chance of recovery. People can contact us online or by phone 365 days a year. We listen to them, help them to understand the illness, and support them to take positive steps towards recovery.

We also support family and friends, equipping them with essential skills and advice, so they can help their loved ones recover whilst also looking after their own mental health. And we campaign to increase knowledge among healthcare and other relevant professionals, and for better funding for high-quality treatment, so that when people are brave enough to take vital steps towards recovery, the right help is available to them.

The work we do means that every year lives are saved, families are kept together, and people are able to live free of eating disorders.
What can I ask?

You can ask about the following:
  • What eating disorders are
  • Treatment available for eating disorders
  • Recovering from or living with an eating disorder
  • Beat's services and how to access support
  • Anything else relating to eating disorders

Please be mindful of our community guidelines around eating disorders:
Eating disorders: Please avoid sharing details about your specific weight, calorie counts or any behaviours, as those specifics can lead to people making unhelpful comparisons. Examples of this are saying what or how much you've consumed, or what methods you use to restrict or purge. You're welcome to use broad terms like 'binge', 'restrict' and 'purge' - just not how you do that.
When?

The Expert Q&A will take place on the 5th and 6th of March. So this Saturday and Sunday!

Where?

You can post your questions in this discussion and our experts will respond on the weekend. If you'd rather ask anonymously, you can use our online form: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/ELESAN/

How will this work?

If you have any questions, you can either write them in this thread or use the form posted above. Make sure you submit your questions in advance so they get answered by our experts. :)
Post edited by JustV on

Comments

  • JustVJustV Community Manager Posts: 5,301 Part of The Furniture
    Just wanted to say thanks in advance to Beat for working with us on this. :)

    My question is: do you have any tips for supporting someone with an eating disorder?
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
  • JustVJustV Community Manager Posts: 5,301 Part of The Furniture
    That was fast! We have our first anonymous question:
    how do you know if you have an eating disorder?
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
  • AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,029 Boards Guru
    Thank you for running this Q&A with us. I have a question:

    What advice would you give to someone who is looking for support but unsure how to start the conversation with their GP?
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
  • DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,777 Master Poster
    I get really anxious about eating in environments where there are a lot of other people around and I end up suddenly having to escape but at home I can't do that and it can feel really overwhelming. After eating I sometimes feel that way as well and there are certain foods which are particular triggers for me. How do I cope with this feeling
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
  • DurhamjaideDurhamjaide Posts: 1,225 Wise Owl
    What are the treatments for an eating disorder
  • DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,777 Master Poster
    How many ways are there to access support on Beat
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
  • Emma_Emma_ Community Manager Posts: 599 Incredible Poster
    Some more of the questions from our anonymous form:
    I think I have binge eating disorder, will my doctor take me seriously? I am worried they will just think I am lazy
  • Emma_Emma_ Community Manager Posts: 599 Incredible Poster
    What should I do if I don't get on with my therapist?
  • Emma_Emma_ Community Manager Posts: 599 Incredible Poster
    What do I do if my GP won't listen
  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Mike wrote: »
    Just wanted to say thanks in advance to Beat for working with us on this. :)

    My question is: do you have any tips for supporting someone with an eating disorder?

    When supporting someone with an eating disorder, try to avoid conversations on weight, food or diet as this may be triggering and cause more focus and anxiety around these topics. It can be helpful to ask about the thoughts and feeling that are behind their eating behaviours and identify the situations that are most difficult for them. For example, if your loved one is struggling to food shop due to anxiety about things such as nutritional labels, either offer to do the shopping for them or go together to help support them.

    Some people with eating disorders will deny support from friends and family and may not want to change their behaviours. In this situation, remind yourself that things can change and reassure your loved one that recovery is possible. Let them know you can hear their distress and how difficult things are, and you are there whenever they need you. If they react aggressively or defensively, remember this is not them but the eating disorder speaking.

    We have some more great information on the page below :smile:
    https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/support-someone-else/tips-for-supporting-somebody-with-an-eating-disorder/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Mike wrote: »
    That was fast! We have our first anonymous question:
    how do you know if you have an eating disorder?

    Some times it can be hard recognise when you are struggling with an eating disorder as it can develop very gradually and some people are in denial that there may be an issue. There’s no single cause and people might not have all symptoms for any one eating disorder. If you have a concerns about your relationship with food it could help to look into the different types of eating disorders on the page below and see if you identify any of the symptoms.
    https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/types/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Aife wrote: »
    Thank you for running this Q&A with us. I have a question:

    What advice would you give to someone who is looking for support but unsure how to start the conversation with their GP?

    It's perfectly normal to feel slightly nervous about seeing the GP. It may be helpful to write down everything you've been experiencing ahead of the appointment so you feel prepared. Some people find it useful to go with a friend or family member for support so you may want to speak to someone about how you're feeling before seeing the GP. We have a great leaflet that will give you more information about seeing the GP and what might happen next. You can take this with you to the appointment to help you in getting a referral on to an eating disorder service :smile:
    https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/resource-index-page/gp-leaflet-first-steps/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Dancer wrote: »
    I get really anxious about eating in environments where there are a lot of other people around and I end up suddenly having to escape but at home I can't do that and it can feel really overwhelming. After eating I sometimes feel that way as well and there are certain foods which are particular triggers for me. How do I cope with this feeling

    You've mentioned that you feel uncomfortable eating around lots of other people. You may find it helpful to try and plan ahead when you know this is going to happen. If there is someone close to you who you feel comfortable speaking to about your worries, it could be helpful to sit next to them for support. If you feel overwhelmed it's okay to take a step out to calm down and practice some breathing/ grounding techniques before continuing the meal. Some people find it useful to use distraction techniques before, during and after a meal to distract from these thoughts. This might just be by watching TV, listening to music or playing a game .

    If you know there are certain foods that you find more difficult it, then maybe set those foods as a goal for yourself to reach. Break your goal down in to small steps so maybe try just having one bite of the food item and then taking a break. It can help to know in advance when you are going to be having a fear food so you don't feel too overwhelmed by it.
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    What are the treatments for an eating disorder

    The treatment you receive for an eating disorder can depend on the type of eating disorder and your individual situation. It's important to find a treatment that feels right for you but most people will receive some form of talking therapy to help overcome their thoughts around food. This may also be accompanied by a meal plan to try.

    You can find more information about the different treatment for eating disorders at the bottom of this page :smiley:
    https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/help-treatment/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • BeatTJBeatTJ Posts: 4 Expert
    Emma_ wrote: »
    What do I do if my GP won't listen

    Hi Emma. It sounds like you may have had a negative experience when seeking help through your GP - you are not alone in this as unfortunately not all GPs are fully trained in eating disorders and therefore may not spot the signs of an eating disorder, understand how best to support you, or know where they should refer you to. This does not mean you don't deserve support - you absolutely do and there are steps you can take to get the right support in place. The NICE guidelines for eating disorders recommend that GPs make an immediate referral to a community-based, age-appropriate eating disorder service for a specialist assessment if an eating disorder is suspected, since people with eating disorders should receive treatment at the earliest opportunity. Please see the following link on what to do if you have not had a positive outcome from you doctor's appointment: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/overturning-bad-decisions/ - this includes advice such as seeing a different doctor, if it makes you feel more comfrortable. Additionally, you might find it useful to take our GP leaflet along to your next appointment - this is designed to help you and the GP understand what steps should be put in place to get the best support in place for you: https://beat.contentfiles.net/media/documents/gp-leaflet-website.pdf
  • BeatTJBeatTJ Posts: 4 Expert
    Dancer wrote: »
    How many ways are there to access support on Beat

    We have various forms of support available to those suffering with an eating disorder, or those who are supporting them. You can get advice and support from one of our Helpline Advisors through the helpline, through live web chat, or by email. We are open 365 days a year from 9am–midnight during the week, and 4pm–midnight on weekends and bank holidays. Here are the links to contact us: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/. We are also reachable through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

    Beat also runs online groups, which are also open daily (2 groups per day) and these are moderated to keep them safe - some more information on our groups, including the times they are run, is here: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/online-support-groups/

    Beat runs additional support services which range from guided self-help to peer support, as well as a range of services for parents and other carers. To discuss whether you would be eligible for any of these, please contact us via one of the channels listed above.
  • BeatTJBeatTJ Posts: 4 Expert
    Emma_ wrote: »
    Some more of the questions from our anonymous form:
    I think I have binge eating disorder, will my doctor take me seriously? I am worried they will just think I am lazy

    Although Binge Eating Disorder is a recognised eating disorder, GPs do not specialise in eating disorders, so may not have a full understanding of this. It is important that you access support as soon as possible, as the earlier an eating disorder is treated, the better the chances of making a full and sustained recovery.

    The following leaflet should help you address some of the issues you might come across and ensure you get a positive result from your appointment: https://beat.contentfiles.net/media/documents/x1219-beat-bed-a5-8pp-v4.pdf. Additionally, within this page you will find further information on treatment for Binge Eating Disorder including the NICE guidelines, wihch recommend that Binge Eating Disorder has a clear, evidence-based treatment pathway: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/types/binge-eating-disorder/treatment/

    If you come across problems in getting the right level of support from your GP, please see the following link, which advises next steps you can take: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/overturning-bad-decisions/
  • BeatTJBeatTJ Posts: 4 Expert
    Emma_ wrote: »
    What should I do if I don't get on with my therapist?

    In this situation, the first step we would suggest is to talk to your therapist and let them know you are feeling this way. If it feels too difficult to say out loud, how about writing down the main points and handing those over in your next session? A good therapist will be open to your feedback - it helps them understand what's not working for you and adjust things accordingly. It can take some time to get support in place in the first place, and so if you are able to work with your therapist on making things better for you, so that you get the best out of your sessions, this could be the most beneficial outcome for you. Remember, it can take a few sessions to start to feel more comfortable with them too.

    If things don't improve after this, we would suggest going back to your GP and discussing alternative options - for example a referral to a different therapist.
  • TheMixTheMix Posts: 3,040 Boards Guru
    Thank you so much everyone for all of your questions, you've been so brave in sharing them. We also wanted to say thank you to @BeatTJ and @BeatMegan for taking the time to answer lots of questions! We really appreciate you both taking the time out of your busy days to help our community :)

    A few of you posted some new questions just as they logged off for the evening but do feel free to head over to Beat's website for some additional support - https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

    Thanks again :)
    Aife & the team
    We're @Aife, @Ella, @Gemma, and @JustV - the staff team here at The Mix.

    Our DMs are monitored Monday - Friday (10am - 5pm) with limited cover on weekends. We have a great team of moderators looking after the community outside of those hours to check in on any reported posts.

    We're not able to provide support on this account. If you need support urgently for any reason, please call 999, go to your nearest A&E or contact Crisis Messenger by texting THEMIX to 85258.
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