There is a great deal of information on the internet, in magazines and on TV about eating disorders. Well known public figures have helped to raise the profile of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. These can affect people at any time in their lives although young people aged between 12 and 25 are the most likely to be affected.
Signs to look out for
- Cutting down on food such as snacks, skipping meals or not eating with the family
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Excessive exercise
- Unnecessary concerns about their weight or shape
- Going to the bathroom shortly after eating
- Binge eating
- An obsession with 'clean eating'
What you can do to help
- If you think your child has an eating disorder find out as much as you can as early recognition is important
- Make time to listen to your child and give them the support and encouragement
- Check that your child is eating normal portions of food
- Consider if you think there is a reasonable balance between how much they eat and exercise
- Encourage them to talk about their concerns to someone they trust
Getting professional help
If you are concerned that your child has an unhealthy eating pattern, attitude to food or body image speak to your GP who will refer them for further help if they need it. They will be able to advise you about what help is available and to arrange a referral to Surrey Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). They will carry out a careful assessment and talk to you about what is the right treatment.
You can also self refer to the CAMHS Eating Disorder Service for Children and Young People, by calling 01372 206325.
If you are concerned about somebody you know, whether you think that they might be undereating or overeating, there are a number of organisations and charities who are able to offer you advice and support:
- Beat - provides helplines, online support and a network of self-help groups to help adults and young people
- NHS Choices - information and advice on eating disorders
- Mind - national mental health charity
- Childline and Samaritans - offer confidential emotional support 24/7 on their phone lines
- Young Minds - have a website for young people about different mental health topics and they have a helpline for parents who are concerned about their child's emotional wellbeing