Help for families

Are you concerned that your child or loved one has developed, or is developing, an eating disorder? 

Eating and feeding disorders are just as difficult for families to live with. It’s not always easy to spot them, especially during adolescence. It can be tough to tell what is just normal teenage behaviour and what is a serious problem. 

Unfortunately, eating disorders are often associated with distorted body image and shame. That means that your child or loved one may minimise, struggle to talk about or even fail to recognise the problem.

Things to look out for

Below are some potential ‘warning signs’ for an eating disorder. Have you noticed any of these changes in your child or loved one?

Behaviour
Physical Health
Thoughts and Feelings
Behaviour
Dieting, or avoiding certain foods that are perceived as high-calorie or fattening
Avoiding meals in front of others
Eating very slowly or cutting food into small pieces
Not being truthful about the amount of food they’ve eaten
Wearing loose fitting clothes or multiple layers
A new desire to follow a vegetarian, vegan or ‘clean eating’ diet
Withdrawing from friends and family
Taking appetite suppressants or diet pills
Frequent trips to the bathroom during or after meals
Excessive exercising
Bingeing on large quantities of food
Hoarding food
Vomiting or using laxatives/diuretics (so-called purging behaviours)
Self-harm
Visiting ‘pro-anorexia’ websites, blogs or social media profiles
Physical Health
Weight loss or gain
Problems sleeping
Feeling tired all the time
Feeling cold
Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
Physical weakness
Abdominal pain, constipation and fullness after even small amounts of food
Calluses on the knuckles (when fingers are used to induce vomiting)
Poor wound healing
Hair loss
Periods becoming irregular, or stopping completely
Thoughts and Feelings
Overly focused on body weight or shape
Strong fear of ‘fatness’ or weight gain
Distorted perception of their body shape
Preoccupation with food
Feelings of loss of control over eating
Feelings of guilt or shame after eating
Denial or minimisation of the problem
Striving for perfectionism
Irritability
Anxiety
Low mood

If you are worried and concerned that your child might have an eating disorder, it a time to act and ask for additional support.

What can I do to help?

  1. Talk about it:

    • The very first step is to try to talk about it. This is easier said than done, but it’s vital to catch eating disorders as early as possible. The most important thing at this stage is to stay calm and to really listen.
    • It’s common for young people with eating difficulties to struggle to talk about their difficulties, so it might be painful to do so at first. But don’t give up – you will get through to them if you persevere.
  2. Contact a Community Eating Disorder Service for Children and Young People.

    • If you’re unsure about whether your child or loved one has an eating disorder, and if they are registered with a GP in our local area (Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Croydon, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley), please refer them by completing our self-referral form. We don’t require GPs or paediatricians to schedule any medical investigations such as blood tests prior to a referral, as we wouldn’t want these to delay the treatment.
    • If you don’t live in our catchment area, please contact your local Community Eating Disorder Service for Children and Young People. There are currently 77 similar services to ours in England.
    • All the research evidence says that the sooner treatment begins, the more likely patients are to make a full recovery, and the more painless their journey will be.

Help is just a few clicks away

Our Outpatient service is available for young people up to the age of 18 years and registered with a GP in one of the following London boroughs: Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.

Fill in the self form or call us on referral phone line 020 3228 2545 during office hours 9-5pm, Monday to Friday.

If you do not live in these boroughs you can’t submit a self-referral, however there are other specialist eating disorder services in London. Please contact your local GP for more information, and feel free to browse through our resources.

If you’re unsure about whether you should be worried, please get in touch. We can help.

We serve young people under the age of 18 who are registered with a GP in one of these London boroughs: Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.

If you think that you or a family member might have an eating disorder, simply complete the relevant online referral form below, or call us on 020 3228 2545 during our office hours: Monday to Friday, from 9 to 5pm.

We also have a range of resources to help you on your journey

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