Eating Disorders Awareness Week

This week is international Eating Disorders Awareness Week when we take some time to consider and raise awareness of different eating disorders.

I’ve compiled some tips to think about if you feel you may be struggling with your relationship with food at university and hope that this might help!

How to find support?

Lots of us have a complicated relationship with food. For many of us, university is the first time where we have total control over our diets and this can be incredibly daunting.

It’s completely natural to struggle and to be unsure of the best way to take care of your health and relationship with food when you’re on your own and support networks may now be far away.

Sometimes, our relationships with food can become a little more difficult, and may manifest into an eating disorder. Common eating disorders include Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder. But there are a number of ways you can start to reach out and find support.

Speak to your friends or family

Friends and family are often more perceptive than you think, try broaching a conversation with someone you are close to. It can help to write down how you feel, how long you’ve been struggling and how you feel they may be able to support you.

Sometimes it takes a friend or family member to help support your through the tough times and help you keep on track. You can read more on disclosing to a friend or family member here.

Speak to a GP

GP’s are the first step in getting professional support with an eating disorder. They can help you figure out if you are experiencing one and refer you to specialists’.

At Royal Holloway, you can attend an Eating Disorder specific appointment with one of the GP’s. Doc Ready is a handy website which can help you prepare for the appointment in advance, inform you of your rights and how to start a conversation with the Doctor.

BEAT

BEAT offers specialist advice and support on eating disorders, you can call them up on the student helpline (0808 801 0811), or have a look on their website for a compendium of resources, advice and FAQs on Eating Disorders. You can even direct friends, family and other supporters to their website for information for them.

BEAT also offer online support groups or 1-2-1 web chats for people dealing with eating disorders.

You can even lookup what treatments are recommended for different types of eating disorders on the BEAT website.

University Wellbeing

The University’s Wellbeing team are able to help support you through difficult times, they can offer advice, direct you to specific services internally and externally and help you make an appointment with the Disability and Dyslexia service, and Counselling should you want academic or emotional support.

Counselling

The University offers a free counselling service which can often act as a gateway to more formal therapies that are offered by the NHS (IAPT, Talking Therapies). This can help if you are on a waiting list, or unsure what to do, or if you just want to chat to someone.

You can request a specific counsellor if you’d prefer to speak to someone of a specific gender, or perhaps you didn’t connect with the person you saw before.

A final piece of advice

Hopefully, this list will have helped a little bit, so here’s a last piece of advice. Recovery looks different for everyone, you may find yourself taking three steps forward and one step back and that’s okay.

Sometimes you may have a big relapse, so just think that it is one relapse fewer to overcome before you recover. Start with small but manageable goals, this will be more sustainable than making large changes all at once which can be incredibly daunting. Asking for support from professional services, and friends and family can really help you achieve your goals.

Lucy Simpson // Vice President Welfare & Diversity