When people think of a person with an eating disorder, they usually imagine someone who has anorexia. But there are many different types of eating disorders that can affect a person’s quality of life, and their health. If left untreated, eating disorders can lead to poor health and sometimes death.
If you think you may have an eating disorder it is important that you get help as soon as possible.
Types of eating disorder
Anorexia (or anorexia nervosa) is when a person will not eat, or eats very little; they might skip meals in order to keep their weight low. They will see themselves as overweight even though they are not, and they will generally have low confidence. Other traits include an obsession with food, avoiding situations where they have to eat with others, exercising too much and hiding the amount they eat from friends and family.
To learn more about anorexia and other eating disorders visit b-eat.org.uk page on anorexia
People with bulimia will generally binge eat (eat lots in one go) and then make themselves sick or take laxatives (also known as ‘purging’) to try and control their weight. Like anorexia, people with bulimia tend to be obsessed with food, have low confidence and hide the fact that they purge from friends and family. This can affect their social life and make them feel isolated.
To learn more about bulimia and other eating disorders visit youngminds.org.uk page on bulimia
Binge eating disorder (BED)
Binge eating disorder is when a person will eat and drink a lot of food over a short period of time, even when they are not hungry. Unlike bulimia, the person will not be sick afterwards, although they will feel uncomfortably full. A person may eat quickly, and feel compelled to eat more and more. Afterwards they may experience feelings of guilt and shame hiding how much they eat from friends and family.
To learn more about binge eating and other eating disorders visit the NHS website page on binge eating
I think I have an eating disorder, what do I do?
The first step is to admit you are struggling. This may not be as easy as it sounds; just because you may not be as sick as other people, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem. Remember, having an eating disorder is not a sign of weakness or that you aren’t as good as other people. Over 725,000 in the UK have an eating disorder* and many of them are high-achieving and powerful people.
Is important to talk to someone close to you about your concerns as soon as possible. They can help you to explore the reasons why you have an eating disorder and how you can overcome it. They can also support you in seeking help from healthcare professionals.
Explaining your feelings can be difficult, and being deaf can add an extra level of worry. Deafness should not stop you from getting the support you need and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need from family, friends and professionals in order to get the best possible treatment.
Organisations and resources
There are many organisations and resources available to help people with eating disorders. The ones listed below give general advice and some have sections especially for deaf people.
If you would like to speak to someone about getting support, please contact our Helpline or contact one of the following organisations directly so you can start your journey to recovery.
ChildLine is a free confidential service that helps young people access support for a range of issues from mental health, poverty and abuse. This link will take you to their dedicated ‘deaf zone’ that provides resources in BSL and information on how to access their service.
SignHealth is a charity dedicated to making sure Deaf people get the same access to healthcare and health information as hearing people. They also provide practical help and support.
Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity. Their vision is an end to the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders. They provide practical support for people with eating disorders including a helpline and run support groups.
NHS Eatwell guide
The NHS Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.