How you can help yourself with your eating disorder?

  • Do you make yourself sick because you’re uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry that you’ve lost control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than 6 kilograms in three months?
  • Do you believe you’re fat when others say you’re thin?
  • Would you say that food dominates your life?

If you answer ‘yes’ to two or more of these questions, you may have a problem with your eating.

Helping yourself

  • Bulimia can sometimes be tackled using a self-help manual with some guidance from a therapist.
  • Anorexia usually needs more organised help from a clinic or therapist. It is still worth getting as much information as you can about the options, so that you can make the best choices for yourself

Do:

  • Stick to regular mealtimes – breakfast, lunch and dinner. If your weight is very low, have morning, afternoon and night time snacks.
  • Try to think of one small step you could take towards a healthier way of eating. If you can’t face eating breakfast, try sitting at the table for a few minutes at breakfast time and just drinking a glass of water. When you have got used to doing this, have just a little to eat, even half a slice of toast – but do it every day.
  • Keep a diary of what you eat, when you eat it and what your thoughts and feelings have been every day. You can use this to see if there are connections between how you feel, what you are thinking about, and how you eat.
  • Try to be honest about what you are or are not eating, both with yourself and with other people.
  • Remind yourself that you don’t always have to be achieving things – let yourself off the hook sometimes.
  • Remind yourself that, if you lose more weight, you will feel more anxious and depressed.
  • Make two lists – one of what your eating disorder has given you, one of what you have lost through it. A self-help book can help you with this.
  • Try to be kind to your body, don’t punish it.
  • Make sure you know what a reasonable weight is for you, and that you understand why.
  • Read stories of other people’s experiences of recovery. You can find these in self-help books or on the internet.
  • Think about joining a self-help group. Your GP may be able to recommend one, or you can contact Beat.

Don’t:

  • Don’t weigh yourself more than once a week.
  • Don’t spend time checking your body and looking at yourself in the mirror. Nobody is perfect. The longer you look at yourself, the more likely you are to find something you don’t like. Constant checking can make the most attractive person unhappy with the way they look.
  • Don’t cut yourself off from family and friends. You may want to because they think you are too thin, but they can be a lifeline.
  • Avoid websites that encourage you to lose weight and stay at a very low body weight. They encourage you to damage your health, but won’t do anything to help when you fall ill.

What if I don’t have any help or don’t change my eating habits?

Most people with a serious eating disorder will end up having some sort of treatment, so it is not clear what will happen if nothing is done. However, it looks as though most serious eating disorders don’t get better on their own. Some sufferers from anorexia will die – this is less likely to happen if you do not vomit, do not use laxatives and do not drink alcohol.