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Eating disorders

Eating disorders usually stem from very low self esteem; compulsively eating in order to not feel something, and then feeling worse; having to be sick because you feel bad and don’t want to put on weight; or taking control of the one thing that you feel is in your power, your food intake.

Eating disorders are very complex and can be dangerous for physical and mental health.  An eating disorder is generally marked by extremes.  A person who is suffering may eat smaller or larger amounts of food but later on, this becomes a habit which can spiral out of control.  Many people assume that only females suffer an eating disorder, however of those 1.6 million people in the UK who do suffer, 11% of them are male. The following describes various types of eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa

This is a Greek term that means lack or appetite. It is a psychiatric disorder; where one has an obsessive fear of gaining weight and it is determined by low body weight and body image distortion. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate from medical complications associated with the illness, as well as suicide.

Bulimia Nervosa

In this type of eating disorder a person eats large amounts of food in a very short period of time and then makes themselves sick.   It is often called just Bulimia. The mortality rate is lower than anorexia, however Bulimi occurrence is much higher.

Binge Eating

This eating disorder is characterised by uncontrolled, impulsive and continuous eating. People with this disorder don’t feel the sense of being full and therefore don’t know when to stop eating. On average, between 5,000 and 15,000 calories are consumed within one sitting, and happens at least twice a week.

Anorexia athletica, (sports anorexia)

Also referred to as hypergymnasia, Anorexia athletica is an eating disorder characterised by excessive and compulsive exercise. An athlete suffering from sports anorexia tends to over exercise to give themselves a sense of having control over their body. Most often, people with the disorder tend to feel they have no control over their life, other than their control of food and exercise. In actuality they have no control, they cannot stop exercising or regulating food intake without feeling guilty

Very similar to:-

Over Exercise

In this type of eating disorder a person just thinks about doing exercises and physical activities and does so to excess, compulsively and obsessively.

Over Eating

This type of eating disorder is common and is most common. A person just thinks about eating regardless of whether the amount eaten is good or bad for them or what they really want.

Dieting

This is also a very common eating disorder which can be undertaken obsessively and over long periods of time.

The addictive nature of eating disorders creep up on us.  It becomes obsessive and a compulsion and ends up controlling our lives. Living with someone with an eating disorder can be heartbreaking and can put a great strain on a family, often sparking wider addiction or depression related issues.

The Icarus Trust can help by providing eating disorders help and support for families, linking you up with a Family Friend who has been in a similar position as well as a professional therapist who can help to make sense of it all.  At any stage in the process something can be done to stop this self destructive behaviour and the best type of therapy depends on the individual.

The Icarus Trust can signpost you to people who know how to help.

5 tips to help you cope with Eating Disorders

  1. The first, and one of the hardest steps to starting recovery is to speak to someone about the addiction. When suffering with an eating disorder, it is common to distance yourself from the people you care about the most. This can be for many reasons, such as not wanting them to see or know you have an eating disorder. This can be due to being in denial yourself, or you may feel embarrassed of the illness. Not having energy to communicate and socialise is also very usual. You could find someone you’re completely comfortable with and trust, or alternatively speak to someone in confidence out of your family circle or friendship group.
  2. Patience is key to recovery with someone who is suffering an eating disorder. There won’t be change overnight, in fact the recovery process can take a considerable amount of time. Don’t be angry at yourself if you relapse, have a day by day mentality.
  3. Try to slowly come off the restricted diet. If possible, speak to a nutritionist about setting up a weekly meal plan that both the doctor and you agree with. Try not to let the concept of gaining weight overcome your recovery. Eat at the same times each day to start bringing the ‘structure’ of meals back into your routine.
  4. The ‘voice’ inside your head isn’t real, try not to let it control your thoughts. The more of a positive mind-set that you can uphold, you will hear less and less of that ‘voice’ which is severely damaging your self-esteem and confidence.
  5. Find a healthy balance between exercising and relaxing. Instead of going to the gym consistently, maybe find an outdoor activity that you can share weekly with friends or family. Keeping up exercise is important for mentality and physical well-being. Moreover, giving yourself time to rest and recover.