Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a complex potentially life threatening disorder which is characterised by disturbance in eating.
Eating disorders can be seen as a way of coping with emotional distress or of an underlying issue. School can be a very stressful place and often students have to deal with a number of different issues that may be facing them. Many students develop eating disorders while at second-level school. Eating disorders are not primarily caused by an issue with food and can affect anyone.  An eating disorder can impact greatly and affect the way a young person lives their life; however the most important thing to remember about an eating disorder is that recovery is possible, with the correct help and support young people can develop different ways of dealing with their worries and stresses.

Some characteristics of eating disorders are:

Self starvation – by fasting and/or food restriction.
Purging – by self- induced vomiting, over exercising or laxative abuse.
Binging – by consuming more food than the body needs to satisfy hunger.
Eating disorders can have devastating effects on both physical and mental health. It is important that people get the support they need to recover from an eating disorder. Students should not be ashamed or afraid to tell someone they trust that they have or think they may have an eating disorder.

What causes an eating disorder?

There is no single cause to explain why someone may develop an eating disorder. It is usually a combination of things that build up together. As everyone is different, the reasons that cause one person to have an eating disorder may be very different to those of another person. Sometimes it is not obvious what the trigger may be or what causes an eating disorder.

What are the main eating disorders?


Anorexia Nervosa
A person will make efforts to attain and maintain a body weight that is lower than the normal body weight for their age, sex and height.
They will think about food and the need to lose weight.
They may exercise excessively.
They may also engage in purging behaviours.
Bulimia Nervosa
A person will make determined efforts to purge themselves after food.
They will engage in behaviours that may include fasting, excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting and/or misuse of laxatives, diuretics or other medication.
They may maintain a normal body weight for their age, sex and height because of this Bulimia Nervosa is often less obvious than anorexia nervosa and can go on unnoticed for longer.
Binge Eating Disorder
This is when a person engages in repeated episodes of binging without purging.
A person will be likely to gain considerable amount of weight over time.

Don’t worry you’re not alone!

There are many reasons why people develop eating disorders it may be due to stress in school, a family worry, bullying or a break up; the list is endless, anyone can develop an eating disorder and they are not primarily to do with food. Eating disorders are often thought of as a female issue and something that does not affect males. This is a myth; approximately 10% of those who are affected by eating disorders are males.  The number of males with eating disorders is on the rise.
There are always people there to help, if you or a friend is worried about an eating disorder seek help and support from family, friends and organisations that support people suffering from eating disorders.  A young person may have to get further professional help to aid recovery but with this help and support, recovery is made easier.

Who can help? BodyWhys can…

Bodywhys is the national voluntary organisation dedicated to supporting the 200,000 people in Ireland affected by eating disorders.

Visit their website or call their Lo-call HELPLINE 1890 200 444