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Eating Distress


Food and eating is an essential part of healthy development and living. Experimenting with eating patterns is common (for example dieting, being vegetarian, sampling different foods, eating health foods) but sometimes eating patterns can become disordered and damaging. Sometimes people confuse who they are with what they look like and change their eating patterns as a result. Distress about eating is often linked to emotional distress in some way. Some common themes include:

  • Preoccupation with food – thoughts and behaviours
  • Issues around control or lack of control
  • Negative perceptions of self, low self esteem, self-obsession
  • Distorted thinking
  • Secretive behaviour

Eating disorders often develop over time and may be recognised as:

  • Anorexia – controlled and minimal food intake leading to excessive weight loss and distorted body image, often accompanied by excessive exercise.
  • Bulimia - urges to over-eat (binge) followed by compensatory behaviour of purging by excessive fasting, self-induced vomiting or abuse of laxatives.
  • Compulsive eating – urges to over-eat followed by more eating in attempts to regain control and comfort.

Moving out of Eating Distress

Recognising there is a problem and seeking support as early as possible is important. Often it is useful to tackle behaviours about food intake alongside working on the reasons for distorted and damaging behaviours around food. Talking through issues such as relating to family and friends, feelings about self and body image and any significant past events can help to make sense of why eating may have become disordered.

Getting Support

The University Counselling Service is available for students and staff of the University of Warwick.

Medical support and information can be obtained from GP practices or health centres

For more information:

B-eat: Beating eating disorders:

Men Get Eating Disorders too:

Self-help references

Self help booklet for those with eating disorders

Watch short videos on recovering from eating disorders:

The following references are available from the University Library either in hard copy, CD or ebooks. Most are readily available to buy either in bookshops or over the internet. There are also a limited number of books in the Learning Grid and the Bio-med Grid.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Eating Disorders : A Comprehensive Treatment Guide

Glenn Waller


Demystifying Anorexia Nervosa : An Optimistic Guide to Understanding and Healing {Developmental Perspectives in Psychiatry}

Alexander R Lucas


Food-mood Solution : All-natural Ways to Banish Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Stress, Overeating, and Alcohol and Drug Problems--and Feel Good Again

Jack Challem


Invisible Man : A Self-help Guide for Men With Eating Disorders, Compulsive Exercise and Bigorexia

John F Morgan


Bulimia nervosa – a cognitive therapy programme for clients

Cooper, Todd, Wells

Jessica Kingsley

Eating disorders- the facts

Abraham and Llewellen Jones

Oxford Uni Press

Getting Better Bit(e) by Bit(e) - A survival kit for sufferers of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders

Treasure & Schmidt

Psychology Press

(Overcoming) Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating



Anorexia Nervosa: A Survival Guide


Psychology Press

Diet of despair: a book about eating disorders for young people and their families


Lucky duck Publishing Ltd

Fit to die – men and eating disorders


Lucky duck Publishing Ltd

When Food is Love.

G Roth


Please see list of other self-help references.


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