National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: 11th - 17th February
Publish Date: 08/02/2013
You're Not Alone
Eating disorders are thought to affect around 1.6 million people in the UK and tend to be caused by some form of emotional or psychological distress.
In a recent survey of LGB&T people from across Greater Manchester, 22% of respondents told us they had experience of an eating disorder. It’s also important to remember that eating disorders can and do affect men, and it’s thought that two thirds of gay and bisexual men who have had a problem with their weight or eating have never sought help from a healthcare professional, which may be reinforcing the misconception that most people with an eating disorder are women.
What is an eating disorder?
Food is essential for our health and development; we can’t live without it and meal times are often a central part of our day-to-day lives. Each person has an individual relationship with food; whether you decide to be vegetarian, have a sweet-tooth or can’t get enough of a certain favourite food, everyone is different.
Problems with food, or ‘disordered eating’ as it’s sometimes called, can often begin when it’s used as a coping mechanism, to deal with negative emotions such as boredom, loneliness, sadness or anger. Bottling things up and trying to cope alone can make things worse, and doesn’t make the problem go away.
Eating disorders, or disordered eating, tend to develop from multiple causes which have had a negative impact on our mental health – the patterns of control, giving the person a sense of control back over their lives. Eating disorders aren’t just about food; many of the symptoms and patterns of behaviour you may recognise, include impulsive and excessive exercising, starvation or drastically limiting food, bingeing and purging.
Who do they affect?
Anyone can develop an eating disorder; however it’s thought they’re more common in younger people, but can still develop later on in life. It is thought that where lesbian and bisexual women are just as likely as their heterosexual peers to develop an eating disorder, gay and bisexual men are more likely than heterosexual men to develop problems with eating. However research into the link between eating disorders and sexual orientation is, at the moment, patchy, and hard to make assumptions from.
Help is at Hand
If you’d like more information on all aspects of eating disorders, visit the B-eat website at www.b-eat.co.uk.
If you’d like to talk to someone about eating disorders, or if you’re concerned about your patterns of eating or exercise, call us on 0845 3 30 30 30, or pop-in and see us between 10am and 8pm Monday to Friday at Number 5, Richmond Street, Manchester.
The LGF also offer face-to-face counselling, you can download an application form on our website or call us and request a form.
If you’re a guy and would like more information on how eating disorders can affect men, visit the Men Get Eating Disorders Too website.