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Anorexia

Anorexia is a serious eating disorder which makes your thinking completely focussed on your weight, eating less and losing weight at all costs.

You may think only young women are affected, but boys and young men get anorexia too.

When does it happen?

Some people may think people with anorexia just want to look like models and celebrities, but anorexia is far more complicated than that. For some people it’s about being able to control something (food), when the rest of life feels out of control. For others they start dieting and lose control because they get so many positive comments about how good they look. What’s common to people with anorexia is they feel the thinner they get, the better things will be.

What does it look like?

Signs of anorexia include:

  • constantly thinking about weight and calorie counting
  • skipping meals on purpose
  • restricting food and refusing to eat high calorie or fatty foods
  • over exercising
  • finding it difficult to eat when you’re with other people
  • going to extreme measures to get rid of food you have eaten, including vomiting and taking laxatives.

As a result of extreme weight loss you may:

  • feel cold all the time
  • feel lightheaded
  • struggle to concentrate
  • have problems sleeping
  • suffer with dry skin
  • develop problems with your heart and blood pressure
  • have problems with your teeth and bones
  • for girls, your periods may stop
  • feel highly anxious especially around food

How is it treated?

It can be hard to face up to the fact that you have a problem with your eating, but it’s important that you do.

Start by sharing your worries with someone you trust. Then think about seeing your GP. They may refer you to an eating disorders specialist who you’ll see regularly to help you understand your issues with food and help you start nourishing your body again.

Although a serious condition, you can make a full recovery, but you should try to get treatment as soon as you can.

Top tips for getting help

Person illustration Get help – Make an appointment to see your GP or school nurse and ask for a referral to someone who can help you overcome the anorexia.
Stay away from websites that promote anorexia or restricted eating.
Counting illustration Take time to relax, recovering from an eating disorder can be stressful. If you are feeling stressed, try practising relaxation exercises daily, they can help you learn how to relax and calm yourself. Try laying or sitting in a quiet distraction free room, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing, try taking slow breaths, breathing in for a count of four and breathing out to the count of four.
Having a regular eating pattern can help to keep your blood sugar stable and this will help to make you feel calmer.
Food illustration A balance of the right types of food is essential, getting the right balance of foods will provide you with energy and the nutrients needed for you to feel well physically and emotionally.

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