What are Eating Disorders?

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Eating disorders can affect men and women. People with an eating disorder worry about what they eat. Food can control their life and stop them making decisions about what they eat and how much they eat. You can get help for an eating disorder from your doctor and specialist services including local voluntary organisations.

Link to Search Results for support for Eating Disorders

Symptoms of an eating disorder

Someone who has an eating disorder may show symptoms such as:

  • weight loss 
  • always weighing themselves or examining themselves in the mirror
  • avoiding eating with others
  • excessive exercise
  • thinking they are grossly overweight
  • binge eating
  • forced vomiting or fasting
  • using laxatives and water-tablets
  • secret eating with the same kind of food
  • hoarding secret supplies of food


People with anorexia nervosa severely reduce the amount of food they eat because they fear gaining weight.

They lose weight but view their body size as being larger than their actual size.

In severe cases, people can die from having anorexia because their normal body functions are disrupted. 


People with bulimia nervosa eat a lot of food very quickly and then make themselves sick or take laxatives to get rid of what they've eaten. They do this in cycles, sometimes several times a day or every few months.

Binge eating

People with a binge eating disorder can gain large amounts of weight because they binge on food when they're not hungry. Binge eating is usually in response to negative moods. Binge eaters can become obese and can develop problems with their heart, blood pressure and general level of fitness.

Where do I get help for Eating Disorders

If left untreated, eating problems can seriously affect your health. If you think you, or a friend or relative has an eating disorder, you should talk to your GP .

They can:

  • suggest ways of treating the problem
  • refer you to local eating disorder services
  • give you contact information for support groups in your area 

Help Lines

Eating Disorders Helpline 028 9023 5959 (Opening Times: 24 hours)

Eating Disorders Association NI (EDANI) is a dedicated support group for anyone living with or worried about an eating disorder. Our services are available across Northern Ireland. Recovery from an eating disorder is possible

The Laurence Trust Helpline  07510 371 335

The Laurence Trust is a local charity, based in Northern Ireland which provides support to men living with Eating Disorders and their families. We do this by: providing up-to-date information and links to support; running a dedicated helpline; advancing awareness of eating disorders through educating the general public; and promoting the general health and well-being of carers.

Health and Social Care Trusts

Last Updated: 25/02/2019