Future Voices: Lifting the lid on the issue of eating disorders

Workers at the eating disorder charity Beat. Photo: David Woodcock Photography

Workers at the eating disorder charity Beat. Photo: David Woodcock Photography - Credit: Archant

In the UK, 725,000 men and women of all ages suffer from eating disorders.

According to the eating disorders charity Beat, understanding the illness is one of the best ways to help. In order to gain this perspective, I interviewed 19-year-old youth ambassador for Beat, Eliza Moyse about her personal experiences.

What made you want to become a youth ambassador for Beat?

I wanted to be able to spread the message of what having an eating disorder is really like. It's not just a case of eating or not eating, it's like you have two brains: your normal brain and your eating disorder brain. You never know which one is going to be in control. The illness warps the way you think: you feel guilty for eating, angry when your friends reach out to you, and begin to doubt there is anything wrong with you.

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Talking with them didn't always help because they had never experienced what I was going through and they couldn't relate to how I was feeling. Having said this, it was important that they stayed close to me. I needed them to be right there so that I didn't feel like I was facing it on my own.

Are there any behaviours or signs people should look out for?

Don't assume there is nothing wrong just because the 'classic' symptoms like weight loss aren't there. There are many other eating disorders out there and losing weight is not a symptom of all of these. Obsessing over food, isolating yourself from others, exercising excessively and becoming very defensive and angry about these behaviours are common signs of an eating disorder.

Beat advises that you reach out sooner rather than later. Even if the person you are trying to help seems angry at the time, they will be grateful in the long-term that you made them feel like they were worth helping.

For further information, visit www.b-eat.co.uk or contact Beat's helpline 0845 634 1414.

Ellie Rose 16, Notre Dame High School, Norwich

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