Eating disorders: Where to go if you need help

Tolga Yildiz is Childline senior supervisor. Here she talks about helping young people with eating disorders.

The pressure to look or be a certain way can be really hard to escape. Especially when it comes to social media.

We are bombarded with airbrushed images of people with the ‘perfect’ look, body or lifestyle. It can be almost impossible not to compare yourself.

And this is absolutely something we see at Childline.

Seeking help

Young people are increasingly seeking help for eating disorders as a result.

In 2017/18, our Childline counsellors carried out more than 5,900 counselling sessions with young people suffering from eating disorders – that was up 22 per cent on the year before.

It’s worrying that so many feel under pressure to look a certain way or live a certain life. Shockingly some of them are still in primary school.

Comparing yourself to others

One young girl* told us: “I pretend that I don’t care about the way I look and that I’m confident, but inside I really do care.

“Everyone I know is prettier than me and it makes me feel bad about myself. The girls in magazines always look amazing too; I know that I don’t look anything like them.

“If I told my mum how I felt she would just say I was being silly. I know that I have some stuff going for me, but I can’t help feeling self-conscious and wanting to change the way I look.”

It’s really important that if you’re struggling with your body image or eating healthily you seek help, hard though this may sound. It’s important that you receive support and get yourself on the road to recovery so you can enjoy your childhood.

There are a few things you can try if you feel it’s taking over your life:

Write down your feelings

Especially the way you feel about food. You can sign up for a locker on the Childline website and use our mood journal to do this.

Be honest

It’s much harder to recover on your own. So tell someone about what’s going on. And let someone know if you relapse or are finding it hard to recover.

Set small goals

You might aim to just eat a little bit more each week.

Make a plan

Decide what you want to say to yourself when the urge comes to avoid eating. You could even write it down and carry it around with you.

Be positive

Write down a list of things you like about yourself. Start with really small things. As you start thinking about it you might start to notice more positive things about who you are.

Avoid negative websites

Stay away from blogs and websites that promote unhealthy eating habits. Instead, try reading things that make you feel good about yourself.

Try something new

It doesn’t matter if it’s small – doing something new can help you believe in yourself. Check out our hobbies and interests message board for ideas.

Where to go for help

If you’re struggling to talk to an adult you trust about how you’re feeling, there’s advice on the Childline website about how to go about it.

And you can always call and speak to one of our counsellors free and in confidence on 0800 1111. They’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

* All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person. Quotes are created from real Childline contacts but are not necessarily direct quotes from the young person.

Read more: Keep safe online and know the dangers

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