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🟥 CLOSED | Expert Q&A | Disordered eating for Eating Disorders Awareness Week

AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,031 Boards Guru
edited February 26 in Health & Wellbeing
Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) will be from 26 February-3 March 2024.

To help raise awareness and offer support, we're going to be running a Q&A session here in this thread on Monday with a helpline advisor from Beat, a charity that supports people struggling with an eating disorder and also those caring for someone with an eating disorder.

You can ask about anything you like, whether you're struggling with an eating disorder, know someone who is, or looking to learn more, this is a safe space to ask any questions.

The expert
We'll be joined by @BeatMegan from Beat - the UK's eating disorder charity. You may remember Megan from her last Q&A with us before the holidays :)

Respond to this thread with your questions (or click here to ask anonymously), and @BeatMegan will be online on Monday 26th February 1:30 - 3:30pm to respond.

--
As per the guidelines, please be mindful to avoid discussing:
  • Methods of purging
  • Methods of reducing appetite
  • How much or what you've consumed
  • Calories and nutritional info
  • Body measurements
  • Detailed accounts of exercise
--

Respond to this thread with your questions (or click here to ask anonymously), and @BeatMegan will be online on Monday 26th February 1:30 - 3:30pm to respond.
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 ❤
Post edited by JustV on

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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,031 Boards Guru
    We've had a couple of questions come through so far :)
    What help is out there for someone struggling with an eating disorder?
    I noticed this years theme for Eating Disorder Awareness Week is avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Can you tell us more about this and the importance of shining light on this ED?
    I'm thinking about seeing my GP but I'm feeling scared, what happens when I see them? What questions will they ask me?
    I've recently started uni this year and my housemates keep making comments about me not eating much, how do I manage those comments? I never know what to say back to them.
    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 ❤
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    JustVJustV Community Manager Posts: 5,306 Part of The Furniture
    Good to see you again @BeatMegan!

    I have a question: if someone has a medical need to restrict their diet in some way (e.g. a dairy allergy, or FODMAP issues), but also is trying to recover from an eating disorder, how would you recommend they go about doing that while balancing both needs?

    Apologies if that question is a little complex! I've been seeing it come up in a few people I know. It sometimes feels like there's a conflict between needing to avoid restrictive behaviours, but then also needing to engage with that for medical reasons.
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
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    DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,788 Master Poster
    This might seem a bit confusing so apologies in advance if it doesn't make any sense. Basically, I have always been quite slim and I have a fast metabolism. People seem to make comments about how much I eat and about the way I look. I end up being put off from eating and I get anxious about eating in public. How can I overcome these feelings that everyone is judging me?
    "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 
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,031 Boards Guru
    Thank you for your questions so far everyone, you've all asked some great ones :)

    Megan will be online at 1.30pm today to answer your questions :)
    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 ❤
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,031 Boards Guru
    A few more questions have come through our form :)
    How do you cope with your GP telling you every appt you need to lose weight when you have binge eating issues and they know that.
    Do you have any advice for someone with a limited diet due to sensory issues and anxiety around trying foods due to textures and strong tastes
    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 ❤
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Hi everyone =) I'm Megan, lovely to be back here again! As Aife said I'm a helpline advisor from the charity Beat eating disorders and I'll be here until 3.30pm to answer you eating disorder questions. I'll start working through the questions that have already been posted but if there's anything you'd like to add, please feel free!
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,031 Boards Guru
    Lovely to have you here @BeatMegan. Thank you so much for answering our questions today. Looking forward to reading through your replies shortly :)
    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 ❤
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    edited February 26
    What help is out there for someone struggling with an eating disorder?
    The first step in getting professional help would usually be to make an appointment with your GP and they could then refer you on to an eating disorder service. If you’d like to find out what options you have for support and treatment in your area, you can put your postcode into our Helpfinder. This will show you NHS services, private options, counsellors, dieticians, charities and support groups. Some of these may be self-referral but some will require a referral from your GP.
    https://helpfinder.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

    If you’re not quite feeling ready to get professional treatment yet, you can reach out for some support via our helpline, webchats or email :3

    We also have some online support groups where you can connect with others in a similar situation. https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/online-support-groups/
    Post edited by JustV on
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    edited February 26
    I noticed this years theme for Eating Disorder Awareness Week is avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Can you tell us more about this and the importance of shining light on this ED?
    Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder involving an extreme avoidance or low intake of food. Unlike some other eating disorders, ARFID isn’t caused by a desire to loose weight. For some people ARFID is caused by sensory issues with food (being put off by texture, smell etc.) and for others it’s caused by worries about the possible negative consequences of eating (like choking or food poisoning).

    You can find out more about ARFID on this page- https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/types/arfid/

    We wanted to shine a light on ARFID this year as it’s a fairly unknown eating disorder but surprisingly common! There’s a lot of misconceptions about ARFID and a lot of people might just think it’s ‘picky eating’. We wanted to reassure anyone with ARFID that your struggles are valid and you deserve support <3
    Post edited by JustV on
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    edited February 26
    I'm thinking about seeing my GP but I'm feeling scared, what happens when I see them? What questions will they ask me?

    Well done for considering reaching out to the GP! I know this can feel like an intimidating step to take.

    Your first appointment may involve talking with the GP about your eating habits, being weighed and having a blood test so that they can check your physical health. Try not to worry about this; they need to weigh you to monitor your health and to decide what type of treatment is best for you. If you don’t want to know your weight, you can ask to stand backwards on the scales and for them not to tell you the result. They will likely ask you about your eating and any thoughts and feelings you’re getting about eating/ body image concerns etc.

    It’s totally normal to feel nervous, maybe you could take a close friend or family member along with you for support? We also have a GP leaflet that you can read over to help you feel more prepared for your appointment. https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/resource-index-page/gp-leaflet-first-steps/
    Post edited by JustV on
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    edited February 26
    I've recently started uni this year and my housemates keep making comments about me not eating much, how do I manage those comments? I never know what to say back to them.
    This can be really tricky to navigate and it’s completely understandable that this might make you feel uncomfortable. I know with just starting uni you’ve probably not known your housemates very long but I’m wondering if there is someone there that you could confide in about your eating problems? They might then be able to support you when this topic comes up and they could help change the subject/ shut down this conversation. Eating disorders can be very secretive and that’s why it’s difficult when they get confronted with people asking about them.

    It might also be helpful for you to think about how you can look after your own wellbeing if you feel triggered by other people’s comments. Maybe removing yourself from the situation, writing down your thoughts, talking to someone you trust or using distraction techniques.
    Post edited by JustV on
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    Rose113Rose113 Deactivated Posts: 1,046 Wise Owl
    Hey @BeatMegan I was wondering how do you approach a parent about eating issues when they just tell you your being "silly"
    ✨ Just a stupid worthless freak ready to give up ✨
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Dancer wrote: »
    This might seem a bit confusing so apologies in advance if it doesn't make any sense. Basically, I have always been quite slim and I have a fast metabolism. People seem to make comments about how much I eat and about the way I look. I end up being put off from eating and I get anxious about eating in public. How can I overcome these feelings that everyone is judging me?

    It must be really difficult having people make comments about the way you look and I can see why that would put you off eating in public. If you felt comfortable, you have every right to ask people you know not to make comments about the way you look. A lot of people may not realise that what they’re doing is affecting you and I’m sure they wouldn’t want to continue making you feel this way.

    As for eating in public and feeling judged, try to remember most people aren’t casting any judgment over what other people are doing. It’s very easy to get into a spiral in your own head about things like this. Maybe try eating in public with someone you trust and keep the conversation away from food to keep your mind distracted <3
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    JustV wrote: »
    Good to see you again @BeatMegan!

    I have a question: if someone has a medical need to restrict their diet in some way (e.g. a dairy allergy, or FODMAP issues), but also is trying to recover from an eating disorder, how would you recommend they go about doing that while balancing both needs?

    Apologies if that question is a little complex! I've been seeing it come up in a few people I know. It sometimes feels like there's a conflict between needing to avoid restrictive behaviours, but then also needing to engage with that for medical reasons.

    Great question! It’s a difficult situation to be in but I think for anyone struggling with this, it’s important to be aware of whether your dietary decisions are coming from your medical needs or from the eating disorder. Just being aware of the thought processes behind your dietary choices can be really helpful. If you do feel like eating disorder thoughts are influencing your diet then you can reach out for help.

    It may be a good idea to speak to a dietician who has experience supporting people with eating disorders. They can then work with you to come up with some meal plans
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    edited February 26
    How do you cope with your GP telling you every appt you need to lose weight when you have binge eating issues and they know that.

    It sounds as though your GP really isn’t being understanding of what you’re going through, I’m sorry to hear this. We have a leaflet specifically designed for people with binge eating disorder to take to the GP. This could help the GP to understand what your struggling with and refer you on to get the support you need https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/resource-index-page/binge-eating-disorder-leaflet/

    You could also ask to speak to a different GP, there will usually be at least one in each practice with a special interest in mental health so you may find them to be more supportive.

    Remember it is not your fault that you are binging and you aren’t alone in this. If you wanted some more support, you can join our BED online support group- https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/online-support-groups/

    All the groups are chat room based and completely anonymous :3
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    edited February 26
    Do you have any advice for someone with a limited diet due to sensory issues and anxiety around trying foods due to textures and strong tastes
    It sounds as though this person might relate to the symptoms of ARFID. You can find more info on this here https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/types/arfid/

    If you are thinking a bit more about those different sensory aspects and patterns in your eating, you might think about exploring the different aspects of a new food to get more comfortable before actually trying it. So, with a fruit or vegetable for example, you might try just looking at it to start with, noticing the colour, texture etc. Then go on to feel it in your hands, then smell it, then maybe just taste it even without actually eating it etc. And eventually when you want to try eating it, you will be more familiar with it and it may be a little easier.

    It's usually easier to try a new food outside of meal times so there is less pressure to eat it all.

    If you struggle with sensory issues then think about how you can make your eating environment as comfortable as possible. Maybe eating in a quiet space, using sensory toys, using breathing and relaxation techniques before mealtimes etc.

    There’s some great resources for sensory issues around food on this page- https://peacepathway.org/patients
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    JustVJustV Community Manager Posts: 5,306 Part of The Furniture
    Super interested in ARFID. Been reading a bit about it recently and it seems to be one of those things that has historically gone under the radar. Good to see more info about it :)
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    River wrote: »
    Hey @BeatMegan I was wondering how do you approach a parent about eating issues when they just tell you your being "silly"

    Hey River! Good question. It must be really tough to feel dismissed when you’re trying to tell a parent you’re struggling with eating. I just want to reassure you that you’re not being silly and you deserve to feel supported. I wonder if your parent has responded this way because they don’t understand eating disorders? Maybe it could be useful to share some information with them about this to help them understand what you’re going through. We have a guide for friends and family that might help https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/resource-index-page/guide-for-friends-family/

    It could also be useful to write down everything you want to say about what you’re struggling with.

    It's so important that you don’t feel alone in this <3 If you can’t get this support from your parents, is there anyone else you feel you could talk to about this? Perhaps another family member, a friend or someone in school/ college.
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    Rose113Rose113 Deactivated Posts: 1,046 Wise Owl
    @BeatMegan thank you, no not really like even perfesionals have said about my eating but she still calls me silly for it :')
    ✨ Just a stupid worthless freak ready to give up ✨
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    River wrote: »
    @BeatMegan thank you, no not really like even perfesionals have said about my eating but she still calls me silly for it :')

    That sounds really hard River I'm sorry to hear you're going through that. I'm really glad you've spoken to some professionals though
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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    JustVJustV Community Manager Posts: 5,306 Part of The Furniture
    @BeatMegan do you have any rough advice on what not to say to someone with an ED?

    Might be helpful for folks reading to know about the traps people can fall into, particularly parents or other well-meaning carers who don't know much about the subject.
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
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    BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    JustV wrote: »
    @BeatMegan do you have any rough advice on what not to say to someone with an ED?

    Might be helpful for folks reading to know about the traps people can fall into, particularly parents or other well-meaning carers who don't know much about the subject.

    Thanks for the question! Something that people with eating disorders might hear a lot is to just 'eat more' or for someone with binge eating disorder, to just 'eat less'. As we know, it's just not that simple otherwise it would be a lot easier to get over an ED!

    Try to avoid placing any blame on the person, just like any physical illness, it's nothing you choose to have.

    Generally, I would also try to avoid making any comments about someone's body. If they have lost weight and get complimented about this, that might encourage the ED. Equally if someone is recovering from an ED and gaining weight, they might hear well-meaning comments about how they have gained weight and look healthier but this can still be upsetting to hear.

    We have some advice on what you could say instead on this page :)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
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    JustVJustV Community Manager Posts: 5,306 Part of The Furniture
    Thank you so much for being our guest expert once again @BeatMegan! Very kind of you to offer your time to us today and answer so many questions from the community. :)

    And thank you to those of you who submitted questions or got involved in this discussion as it was happening. Y'all might see Megan again in a future ED Q&A!
    All behaviour is a need trying to be met.
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