This article provides information for students about support services for food-related distress and eating disorders.
Food is not just our fuel - it carries rich layers of social and cultural symbolism, as well as personal psychological meaning. Taken together with the image and body-consciousness of western culture, it is not surprising that food can become a symptom, and sometimes a source, of emotional difficulties. Distress focused on food and eating is a relatively common issue for students, and affects both male and female students.
If you are finding that your relationship with food has become a source of distress or difficulty, then it is a good idea to seek help as soon as possible. If you think you may have an eating disorder then it is important to consult a GP, in the first instance. It is also advisable to consult your GP if you are feeling persistently low, or if your difficulties are significantly affecting your daily functioning.
It is always advisable to let your personal tutor or course leader know if you are having difficulties affecting your studies - they are there to help, and can offer useful advice and support.
You can learn skills to help you tackle issues with body image and general confidence, and there is a lot of other support available to start appropriate treatment for eating difficulty or disorder:
Student Wellbeing Service
The Student Wellbeing Service offers confidential help with a wide range of personal and emotional concerns and is available to every student at the University, free of charge. All kinds of students find their way to us from all over the University and for all sorts of reasons, and we are experienced in providing support to students with food-related difficulties and in helping students seek appropriate further support.
The service has three strands: wellbeing advice, counselling, and mental health advice. They are all linked together so when you apply you only have to approach us once – we will sort out which one is most likely to meet your needs.
To contact us or register for support see our article on accessing support from the Student Wellbeing Service.
Courses and workshops
The Student Wellbeing Service hosts a range of workshops and courses for learning skills to tackle common issues like stress, anxiety and low mood. There are no courses or workshops specific to eating distress, but the skills taught on several of them may still be useful - for example, the 'Introduction to compassionate mind' workshop. Consult our Course and Workshop Programme to see if any of them seem relevant to your personal issues and concerns.
All students also have free access to a set of short online courses, called SilverCloud, to learn evidence-based strategies for tackling the common issues of stress, anxiety, depression and poor body image. These courses can be accessed confidentially and completed independently, in your own time and at your own pace. Find out more and register directly from our Online Resources article.
The University library has copies of the following books which could be useful:
If you would like to research more around the topic of food-related distress and disorder, the Student Wellbeing Service can recommend the following self help resources: