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Eating disorders

Eating​ ​disorders​ ​are​ ​serious​ ​and​ ​have​ ​a​ ​big​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​someone’s health.​ ​We’re​ ​here​ ​to​ ​help.​ ​Learn​ ​more​ ​about​ ​eating​ ​disorders, what​ ​the​ ​warning​ ​signs​ ​are,​ ​and​ ​who​ ​can​ ​help​ you ​change​ ​your relationship​ ​with​ ​food.

Content Warning: this article contains information about mental health which may be distressing or triggering.

Girl looking anxious with thought bubbles about food, gym equipment, scales

What​ ​is​ ​an​ ​eating​ ​disorder?

It’s​ ​more​ ​than​ ​just​ ​eating​ ​too​ ​little​ ​or​ ​too​ ​much.​ ​It’s​ ​when​ ​someone​ ​has​ ​an unhealthy​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​eating,​ ​exercising,​ ​or​ ​their​ ​body​ ​size​ ​or​ ​shape.

Here’s​ ​what​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​know​ ​about​ ​eating​ ​disorders: 

  • You​ ​can’t​ ​always​ ​tell​ ​if​ ​someone​ ​has​ ​an​ ​eating​ ​disorder​ ​just​ ​by​ ​looking at​ ​them
  • Both​ ​girls​ ​and​ ​guys​ ​of​ ​any​ ​age​ ​can​ ​develop​ ​an​ ​eating​ ​disorder 
  • Eating​ ​disorders​ ​are​ ​not​ ​a​ ​diet​ ​gone​ ​wrong​ ​or​ ​a​ ​cry​ ​for​ ​attention 
  • Sometimes​ ​eating​ ​disorders​ ​develop​ ​as​ ​a​ ​way​ ​for​ ​someone​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​in control​ ​of​ ​emotions​ ​or​ ​something​ ​that​ ​is​ ​happening​ ​in​ ​their​ ​life 
  • Eating​ ​disorders​ ​can​ ​have​ ​a​ ​lifelong​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​someone’s​ ​health 
  • Eating​ ​disorders​ ​are​ ​very​ ​serious​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​important​ ​to​ ​get​ ​support 
  • Help​ ​is​ ​available​ ​and​ ​recovery​ ​is​ ​possible

Types of eating disorders

Eating disorders can come in many forms. Here are the most common:

Anorexia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa

Binge Eating Disorder

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED)

How to tell if your relationship with food is becoming unhealthy?

You may notice changes in the way you:


Recognising the signs and symptoms

Here are some of the most common warning signs and symptoms

How you look:

  • Sudden​ ​weight​ ​loss​ ​or​ ​gain
  • Your look​ ​tired​ ​and​ ​worn-out
  • Your​ ​clothing​ ​style​ ​has​ ​changed
  • Changes​ ​in​ ​the​ ​way​ ​your​ ​hair,​ ​skin​ ​and​ ​nails​ ​look


You may feel:

  • Unhappy​ ​with​ ​your​ ​body​ ​shape​ ​or​ ​size
  • Worried,​ ​upset​ ​or​ ​guilty​ ​after​ ​eating
  • Moody,​ ​irritable​ ​or​ ​have​ ​low​ ​energy
  • Faint,​ ​dizzy​ ​or​ ​weak
  • Nervous​ ​or​ ​out​ ​of​ ​control​ ​around​ ​food
  • Cold​ ​all​ ​the​ ​time​ ​–​ ​even​ ​in​ ​warm​ ​weather


How you act:

  • Steal​ ​or​ ​hide​ ​food
  • Withdraw​ ​from​ ​your​ ​friends
  • Exercise​ ​often​ ​or​ ​excessively
  • Vomit​ ​after​ ​meals​ ​or​ ​use​ ​laxatives
  • Eat​ ​in​ ​secret​ ​or​ ​avoid​ ​eating​ ​with​ ​others
  • Diet,​ ​overeat,​ ​fast​ ​or​ ​change​ ​the​ ​way​ ​you​ ​eat


How you think:

  • Difficulty​ ​concentrating
  • Have​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​gaining​ ​weight
  • View​ ​your​ ​body​ ​differently​ ​than​ ​others​ ​do
  • Worried​ ​about​ ​what​ ​you​ ​eat​ ​or​ ​the​ ​way​ ​you​ ​eat
  • Constantly​ ​think​ ​about​ ​food,​ ​eating​ ​or​ ​body​ ​weight


"I'm an anorexia and depression survivor."

Who can help?

If you're worried about your eating habits, it's important to seek help as soon as possible.

Here's who can help:


Parent or trusted adult
School counsellor
Doctor or nurse
Kids Helpline
Service that specialises in eating disorders like the Butterfly Foundation

You're not alone

With help you can start to change your relationship with food

If​ ​you​ ​notice​ ​any​ ​of​ ​these​ ​signs​ ​or​ ​you’re​ ​worried​ ​about​ ​your​ ​eating​ ​and exercise​ ​habits​ ​–​ ​we’re​ ​here​ ​to​ ​help. 

Give​ ​us​ ​a​ ​call,​ ​start​ ​a​ ​WebChat​ ​or​ ​email​ ​us​ ​today.

If you are looking for more digital services and resources, check out Head to Health.

This content was last reviewed 14/02/2018

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