Resources and courses / Resources / Disordered eating

Disordered eating resource

There are practical steps you can take now if you're worried about a child with an eating disorder. Explore our animated resource and handbook and learn how to identify and help someone with an eating disorder

Please sign up here to an email series containing our toolkit helping you spot the signs of an eating disorder and sharing how to support children in your care. 

Free disordered eating toolkit

Download your free disordered eating toolkit as a PDF using the button below.

View animations

How to help someone with an eating disorder

Our disordered eating resource gets delivered direct to your inbox and and written with the support of our therapeutic qualified counselling team. Including a range of clear animations and advice from a GP, Counsellor and a parent, it also gives you access to animated videos and a printable handbook. 

What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are alarmingly common- there are an estimated 1.2 million people currently living with an eating problem in the UK.

If you are a parent that is worried about a child with an eating disorder, it can be an incredibly difficult time. You may feel frustrated and helpless, and desperate to help your child.

Different types of eating disorders:

There are many different types of eating disorders, with a range of symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa

The most well-known is anorexia nervosa, in which sufferers aim to restrict their food intake to lose weight. A person with anorexia has an intense fear of weight gain.

Bulimia Nervosa 

Bulimia nervosa is a disorder which causes sufferers to purge (vomit) on purpose to rid themselves of the food they have eaten. Bulimics sometimes binge eat before purging- which can also involve using laxatives.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder causes sufferers to consume a large amount of food, which can then cause the sufferer to feel guilty or ashamed. OSFED (an abbreviation of other specified feeding or eating disorder) is a term covering eating disorders which don’t fall specifically into one of the above categories- and sufferers may display symptoms of different disorders at once.


ARFID or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder relates to the avoidance of specific foods. This is often not connected to fears around body weight, or negative self-image, but it is thought to derive from anxieties around food. This can sometimes cause nutritional deficiencies. 

What causes an eating disorder?

Eating disorders aren’t always about not gaining weight, losing weight or body shape. The root cause of an eating problem may be trauma, a perfectionist streak, or life experiences. It isn’t always straightforward to spot why a child is developing an issue with food.

The cause may be a mixture of different circumstances, including anxiety, depression, low self- esteem, social influences, or genetics. It’s thought that eating disorders may be on the rise due to the impact of social media on teenagers and young adults, as they are continually shown images of thin or attractive people, which can lead to a distorted body image. 

If you are worried about your child, or believe they are showing concerning symptoms, there are plenty of ways that you can source eating disorder help, and support. 

Illustration of someone obtaining support for an eating disorder.

Eating disorder recovery

Recovery from an eating disorder takes time- and that length of time will be different for everyone. Many sufferers will be referred to a specialist team who will oversee their care and recovery.

Treatment will usually involve monitoring weight gain to a healthy level, plus a talking therapy. The team may also need to monitor the patient’s physical health for any medical complications caused by the disorder.

Free eating disorder support

If you haven’t already signed up use the button below for our Disordered Eating Toolkit, showing you how to spot the signs of an eating disorder and how to support your child.

Sign-up to access our disordered eating toolkit

* indicates required
Make a referral, teenager working in a group

Make a referral

If you are looking for further support or to make a referral to our services click below:

Need support with using this eating disorder resource? 

Let us know by filling out our resource support form. 

Get in touch

If you need urgent help for yourself or someone else, get advice from 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment. If someone’s life is at risk call 999 or go directly to A&E.

For more support from trained volunteers contact the SamaritansChildline or Beat.