Christmas can be an incredibly tough time for those living with an eating disorder. Regular coping mechanisms are hard to maintain during a time of such spontaneity — lots of food we don’t usually eat, plenty of socialising, going out for dinner, disruption to routines and different environments can all be triggers for people struggling
Given this time of year can be difficult to navigate, here are some resources and helplines you can turn to if you feel like you need support.
As well as using these resources, always try to speak to a family member or trusted friend if you feel like you’re struggling or if you’re worried the festive season might be particularly difficult. Your GP can also offer valuable help and support for eating disorders.
The NHS have lots of helpful advice on their website for anyone dealing with an eating disorder, as well as how family and friends can help if you know someone who could be struggling.
BEAT Eating Disorders
The UK’s leading eating disorder charity, BEAT’s mission is to “end the pain and suffering caused by eating disorders”. They have a one-to-one webchat as well as a national helpline number available 365 days a year, from 9am to midnight on weekdays and 4pm to midnight on weekends and bank holidays. They also have an email service available to answer any questions you might have.
If you cannot get through to someone via their helpline, their advice is to try their one-to-one webchat function. Or if you’re in need of urgent help or in danger, call 999 or the Samaritans on 116 123.
UK Helpline numbers:
England: 0808 801 0677
Scotland: 0808 801 0432
Wales: 0808 801 0433
Northern Ireland: 0808 801 0434
Email contact details:
Northern Ireland: NIhelp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk
BEAT also offer online support groups if you feel like you’d benefit from that kind of support.
Anorexia & Bulimia Care (ABC)
Much like BEAT, Anorexia & Bulimia Care have been providing support for those affected by eating disorders. Operating for more than 30 years, they strive to give care and support to those with eating disorders, educate family or friends who might be caring for someone, and support further research into eating disorders.
ABC have a helpline open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9am to 1pm. They also offer a booking system so you can arrange an appointment with a member of their team to start exploring recovery options and strategies for either yourself or someone you’re close to.
Helpline number: 03000 11 12 13
ABC also offers online support groups on Tuesdays from 10-11:30am, with one session available to individuals with eating disorders, and another for family, friends and carers.
They also offer an email service for any questions — one for anyone in need of individual support, and another for friends and family seeking advice.
Friends & Family: email@example.com
For anyone living with a binge eating disorder or any other kind of compulsive eating, Overeaters Anonymous offers support groups and a 12-step plan towards recovery.
They have a contact number to enquire about meetings as well as two email address — one for general queries and one to speak to a healthcare professional.
They also have a section on their website with tools for recovery, which is a great place to start.
Contact number, email addresses and other important info can be found here on their website.
Sporting Minds is a charity dedicated to providing support to young sports people experiencing mental health issues, including eating disorders. This is a great place to seek support if you play a sport and are also experiencing an eating disorder.
Sporting Minds have an email and telephone number you can use to contact them for advice, including a confidential questionnaire you can fill out with some relevant information in order to get the help you need.
There’s also a useful page with resources if you require more urgent care.
Phone number: 0333 335 5994
Take home message
Hopefully these resources are a helpful resource if you’re in need of support over the Christmas holidays. Remember, if you feel yourself starting to struggle with something like an eating disorder, making a close friend or family member aware can make things much easier. It’s also important to reach out to your GP as they can provide important professional care and help towards recovery.
From nearly a decade of restriction to the happiest and healthiest she's ever been.