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Eating disorders

“Destroy the thoughts not the body”

Anyone can develop an eating disorder regardless of age, race, gender or background. Eating disorders are a way of coping with feelings and emotions, and are a sign that you're struggling to cope with life and its demands.

It may be difficult to face up to and talk about feelings like anger, sadness, guilt, loss or fear that can lead to someone developing an eating disorder. 

Eating disorders claim more lives than any other mental illness – one in five of those most seriously affected will die as a result.

If you think you might have an eating disorder, it's really important that you seek help as soon as possible as the physical effects can be dangerous.

This page highlights some of the most common eating disorders, but it's important to understand that you might not fit into one of these descriptions, and all eating disorders are serious.

An eating disorder is about having a relationship with food that feels out of control.

If you feel you’re eating habits have changed dramatically and you don't feel in control any more, this could indicate a problem.

If you are worried, it's important to talk to someone and visit your doctor or speak to the school nurse. They will be able to talk to you about what you've been feeling, and suggest ways of getting better and taking back control.

Eating disorders

You might not fit into one of these diagnoses and there are other types of eating disorders which you might be experiencing.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious mental illness where people experience a loss of control and regularly overeat. People who binge eat consume very large amounts of food over a short period of time (called bingeing). They often eat even when they are not hungry, and can make themselves feel uncomfortably full.

The main difference between bulimia and binge eating disorder is people with BED do not make themselves sick, take laxatives or exercise in attempt to control their weight.

After binge eating people will often feel very upset, but there is nothing to be ashamed about and it's important to seek help.


 - an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food

Orthorexia is when someone becomes obsessed with eating healthy food, as well as worrying about the quality and purity of food.

This can be physically dangerous as food choices become very limited in terms of variety and calories, and emotional health can also suffer as an obsession with healthy eating can be very restrictive and cause anxiety.

Boys can have eating disorders too

It might be less talked about, but boys and men can experience eating disorders too. Research suggests that one in four people with an eating disorder is male. There is no need to be ashamed and there is support out there.

Over-exercise - a symptom of eating disorders

One of the symptoms of an eating disorder can be the urge to over-exercise. This can be because of a desire to be 'thin', or because of an obsession with getting a 'muscular' body shape (typically more so with young men).

Many young men and women experience compulsive exercising alongside an eating disorder, and it can be dangerous. If you think you might be exercising too much or it's taking over your thoughts, you can get help.

Getting support - the road to getting better starts with a conversation         

·         Feeling frustrated

·         Self-harm

·         Stress

Support on St Helena:

Ask the school nurse for advice on who can help you.

The school nurse offers a drop-in service for young people to come and chat to about any social, emotional and physical health and wellbeing issues.

The mental health team offer counselling for young people who feel their emotional wellbeing is suffering, whatever the reason may be.

You can go to your nurse / Doctor for help at any age. Anything you talk about is confidential and will be kept between you and your nurse / doctor unless you or someone else is at risk..

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