Lots of people have different eating habits. You might eat loads one day, be less hungry another day, or go through phases of wanting to eat more or less healthily. But that doesn’t mean you have an eating problem.
But if you’re focusing a lot on controlling what or how much you eat, or if you have urges to eat and then make yourself sick, these are signs you could have a problem.
Eating problems are common and they affect people with any body shape or lifestyle.
Signs of an eating problem
Here are some signs that you may have an eating problem:
- You spend a lot of time worrying about your body shape, how you look and how much you weigh, worrying you are too fat and have a fear of gaining weight.
- You have made sudden changes to your diet and have strict rules about what you eat and how much you eat.
- You find yourself needing to make a note of everything you eat and weigh yourself every day.
- You are avoiding social situations that involve food, such as meal times at home or eating out with your friends or family.
- You are doing a lot more exercise than you would normally.
- You have been making yourself sick straight after eating.
- Your mood has changed and you may feel more anxious or irritable than normal.
If you think any one or more of the above sounds familiar, it doesn’t mean you definitely have an eating problem or disorder. However if these things are affecting your everyday life and stopping you enjoying the things you normally would, and your family or friends have noticed things and have said that they are worried about you, then it’s important to talk to someone and get some support and advice.
Main types of eating problems
So that healthcare professionals can choose the right kind of treatment for someone, there are a number of different eating disorders that someone can be diagnosed with. You can find more information on different types of eating disorders on the NHS website and the BEAT website.
The main types of eating problems are summarised below.
- Not eating enough food
- Exercising too much
- Keeping your weight as low as possible
- People may say you are too thin but you think you are overweight
- Restricting what you eat
- Losing control of how much you eat
- Doing too much exercise
- Deliberately making yourself sick or using laxatives
- Eating a lot of food in a very short space of time, called binge eating
Binge Eating Disorder
- Regularly lose control of your eating
- Eat large portions of food all at once
- Feel upset or guilty about eating too much food
Less common types of eating disorders
There are also other, less common types of eating disorders which include:
- Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). You can find out more about OSFED on the BEAT website.
- Avoidant/Restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). You can find out more about ARFID on the BEAT website.
- Orthorexia is not currently recognised in a clinical setting as a separate eating disorder. You can find out more about Orthorexia on the BEAT website.
Getting More Help
Talking to family and friends about your worries can help you feel more supported. You might want to talk to someone outside the family like a GP, teacher or mentor at school, or even a friend’s parent. Choose someone you trust and if you find it difficult to talk about how you are feeling, you could write them a letter or send them a text. Support is also available through Childline, Compass Phoenix, Kooth and Recovery College Online.
Getting help from the specialist CAMHS eating disorders team in North Yorkshire
If you think you need specialist help with food and eating you may need to get an appointment with a specialist team. This is called the CAMHS Community Eating Disorders team.
The North Yorkshire Children and Young Peoples Community Eating Disorder Service works with children and young people under 18 who may have a range of eating problems.
Referral is through the CAMHS Single Point of Access (SPA). You can either get a health professional (e.g. GP) to refer you, or self-refer. If you choose to self-refer, you will need to also see your GP for a physical health check.
Once the team has your referral details they will make a decision about whether your referral needs to be seen urgently (within 5 working days) or routinely (within 4 weeks). You will be contacted by telephone and/or letter to be offered a date for an appointment.
If the team decide that an assessment is not needed they will provide you with details of other services that are better able to support you instead.
Getting Urgent Help
If you’ve seriously injured yourself or taken an overdose call 999 or get immediate medical advice from NHS 111.
If you are in a crisis and feel like you can’t cope, speak to somebody straight away. Search below for help or see the Urgent Help page for contact details for the North Yorkshire single point of access Crisis Service.