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Eating disorders | bleaching practices


website: www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/

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Eating disorders
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what: Eating Disorders Support (EDS) is a student-run organisation working to provide help for those who have problems with food, weight, body image and any forms of disordered eating. They aim to give support and information to those who have current or past dif?culties, or are supporting someone else suffering from eating disorders. EDS aims to raise general awareness throughout Cambridge University.

what’s behind these diseases: an eating disorder appears to be about food but it may actually provide a way for the sufferer to cope with stress and/or deeper emotional issues. The issues are different for each individual, but low self-esteem and a sense of a lack of control over one’s life are common elements. It is usually not possible to resolve the deeper issues until the dependence on bingeing and purging behaviours has been reduced. The priority is to return to a regular pattern of eating.

bulimia nervosa: involves frequent episodes of ‘binge-eating’, where the individual feels out of control and consumes a very large amount of food as quickly as possible, regardless of whether s/he is hungry or full.

Sufferers compensate for episodes of binge eating by ‘purging’ (inducing vomiting, periods of self-starvation, strict dieting, excessive exercise, as well as misusing laxatives and/or diuretics). For sufferers, control over eating behaviour becomes the highest priority. Staying in control of eating behaviour is regarded as ‘good’ while lapses in control causes sufferers to feel ashamed and disgusted, which reinforces their own belief that they are inadequate or worthless. Sufferers base their self-esteem mostly or solely on their weight, body shape, and eating behaviour. On the outside, bulimics often appear normal. People with bulimia may eat normally with other people and are often within the normal weight range. They may appear to be coping with work, and may seem self-assured and successful. However, on the inside, bulimics are very unhappy and feel terrible about themselves. Binge eating and purging is usually done in secret, and the sufferer may go to great lengths to hide these behaviours. Maintaining this lifestyle of appearing normal to others while suffering intensely on the inside is extremely stressful and exhausting.

Approximately 2-3% of adolescent and young adult females and 0.1%-0.3% of males suffer from bulimia nervosa in the US, and rates are similar in the UK. There are also reports that the rate of bulimia among males is rising.

Most people develop bulimia nervosa between the ages of 14-25. Bulimia nervosa may begin during or after an episode of dieting, or it may follow from a period of anorexia. Unfortunately, like all of the eating disorders, bulimia nervosa is a chronic condition.

anorexia nervosa: the main symptom is the relentless pursuit of thinness through self starvation. Anorexia literally means ‘loss of appetite’ but in reality someone with anorexia nervosa is usually extremely hungry and often very interested in food.

Although people with anorexia nervosa think about food all the time, they restrict their eating and therefore experience a dramatic decrease in body weight and/or maintain a very low weight.

People with anorexia nervosa see themselves as very fat, even when they are emaciated and critically ill. They typically have an intense fear of gaining weight even though they are already very underweight, and this fear is not alleviated by further weight loss. Many sufferers deny that they have a problem with food and weight, even when they are dangerously thin, which can make the illness very hard to treat.

Many people with anorexia nervosa are very bright, high achievers or overachievers, and are perfectionists. They suffer from low self-esteem, they feel that they do not have control over their lives, and some may feel ‘lost’ and without a sense of who they are.

People with anorexia nervosa often deny that they have a problem with food or deny the seriousness of their condition, and often find it very hard to admit that they need help, even when they are too weak to go about their everyday lives.

Anorexia nervosa affects 0.5%-1% of adolescent and early adult females are affected, and about 0.1% of males are affected. Anorexia nervosa usually develops in adolescence (average age of onset = 17), and it rarely occurs in women over 40. Unfortunately, it is a chronic condition.

mission: the EDS website aims to provide support and information for those suffering from eating disorders and to raise general awareness throughout the university.

EDS makes the following services availables:

bullet phoneline
bullet online support
bullet support groups
bullet e-mail

The world of eating disorders can seem very lonely. It is important to know where to find the right support. No-one should have to face these illnesses alone.


Cambridge University
Students' Union
11-12 Trumpington Street
Cambridge - CB2 1QA - UK
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