Info and Advice

Eating disorders

An eating disorder is the term used to describe difficulties in eating and what happens as a result.
A young girl appears distressed looking at a weighing scales

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is not just about eating too much or too little. It is about when someone has an unhealthy focus on eating, exercising, or on their body size or shape. 

If food, eating food, or avoiding eating food, has started to take over your everyday life, you may have an eating disorder. 

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Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is connected with low body weight and a false body image. It can affect boys and girls and people of any age. It is a very difficult condition to understand.

Some signs that a person may have Anorexia Nervosa include: 

  • They are not eating enough and their body weight is becoming lower than normal for their age and sex
  • They are very scared about gaining weight or become obsessed with a behaviour which stops a person from gaining weight. This may include: exercising too much, fasting, or mis-using diet pills
  • They do not see their body shape or weight as it truly is. For example, they might feel overweight and yet they have a low body weight
Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is a condition where a person is motivated by an absolute fear of gaining weight. 

People who have Bulimia Nervosa will often eat too much food at one time ('binge') and then feel upset and try to make up for it by making themselves vomit ('purging'). 

A person with Bulimia Nervosa might stay at a normal body weight. On the inside, however, they might be experiencing feelings of shame, guilt and self-hatred. 

Some signs of Bulimia Nervosa include:

  • A sense of a lack of control over a person's eating. A person who has Bulimia Nervosa might feel like they can't stop eating or can't control how much they are eating
  • Harmful behaviours aimed at stopping themselves from gaining weight. These might include: purging, exercising too much or wrongly using medicines
  • Feeling trapped and isolated in a cycle of binging and purging food
Binge Eating Disorder

A Binge Eating Disorder shows itself when a person will eat too much food at one time and repeats this activity over and over again. This can really damage a person's health. 

Binge Eating Disorders are equally common among males and females. People who suffer with them may feel disgusted, sad or guilty after binge eating. Sometimes, people will binge eat in secret. 

Support is available

Eating disorders are complicated problems but people can overcome them.  If you think you may have one, or if you have one, you're not alone. With help, you can start to change your relationship with food. 

You can find more information and support around eating disorders from the eating disorder association in Ireland, Bodywhys. Support through email and a telephone helpline is also available. 

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Contact Childline

Childline is always here to listen and to support you. You can call Childline on 1800 66 66 66 (24 hours a day), text Childline on 50101 (10am – 4am every day) or chat with Childline online

Talking helps!

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1800 66 66 66

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50101

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