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CEDS Zoe Bradshaw


Eating Disorder Awareness Week runs from February 28 to March 6.

As part of this important week, many people are sharing their experiences to help others learn more about them and their health.

Zoe Bradshaw from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Eating Disorders Service (CEDS) has shared her tips for caring for someone with an eating disorder.

She said: “First of all, it’s important to talk to someone you trust and seek professional help.

“Second, encourage regular eating – we encourage three meals and three snacks a day as well as liquids with every meal.

“Third, treat each day as a fresh start – forget what happened the day before and focus on the new day ahead.

“Fourth, be kind to yourself – take time to relax.

“Finally, never compare the journey of your loved ones to that of others – they are on their own path.”

Two girls who have both used Pennine Care’s eating disorder community service have shared their stories to help others understand what an eating disorder is, what it’s like to live and how others can get help.

Eden, 18, from Tameside is recovering from anorexia.

She said: “I started battling eating disorders at the age of 12 after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

“The focus on food portions and carbohydrate counting has led to calorie counting and obsessing over any weight change.

“I was referred to CEDS when I started my first year in sixth form, the stress of GCSEs and a big change in my life made my eating disorder behaviors worse and they were noticed by others.

“For many years I knew something was wrong with my thoughts about food, but I was ashamed and afraid to talk about how I felt.

“While the thought of having to open up to the staff at Pennine Care was scary, it was a relief to finally be able to tell someone how I felt and start to understand what I was going through.

“It’s hard to explain what anorexia feels like to someone who doesn’t have it, because it doesn’t make much sense; how happy restricting food and losing weight can make you.

“It doesn’t always really make sense to me either, which brings a lot of conflicting emotions.

“For me, it’s like having a voice in my head telling me not to eat and that I should lose weight.

“It brings a lot of guilt when I eat or look at my body, so I restricted food to try to manage that.

“Although there are still my own thoughts that remind me otherwise, sometimes the voice of the eating disorder is overwhelming and none of my logical thoughts can make it go away.

“The Eating Disorders team taught me ways to distract myself from thoughts related to eating disorders, reminded me that the thoughts were irrational and helped me disprove them.

“Going to them gave me a space where I could openly say everything I thought and felt about my body and my eating disorder where in the past I was ashamed to talk about it.

“A lot of the work they did with me was to find reasons not to give in to eating disorder thoughts.

“I’ve been in recovery for about two years now and I’ve reached a point I never thought possible. When I was at my lowest sanity, I didn’t think recovery was possible and I thought that trying was pointless.

“I think everyone in recovery is sick of hearing ‘it’s better’, but it really is possible. I still have thoughts of eating disorders and I still have a long way to go with it. my recovery, but I’ve achieved things that wouldn’t be possible if I had continued to give in to anorexia.”

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Amy, 17, from Bury, Greater Manchester, is training to become an elite gymnast while studying at university in hopes of taking a college science course.

The numerous confinements had a particularly strong impact on his mental health
health and his fight against anorexia.

She said: “I started seeing Community Eating Disorders Service staff from the Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CAMHS) a year ago when my underlying eating disorder exploded during lockdown.

“I suffer from anorexia, which is due to a contribution of over-exercise and under-eating.

“As my training and mobility (e.g. walking to, from and around school) was taken away from me during the pandemic, I over-trained even more in an attempt to compensate for not training” properly” and undernourished to a greater extent.

“The pandemic gave me a lot more time to think, so my mind was consumed with food because it had no other occupation.

“My initial treatment focused on diet and restoring my weight, then I progressed slightly to maintaining my weight and establishing a healthy relationship with food. It gave me the skills needed to avoid a relapse or regression in my recovery.

“An eating disorder, in simpler terms, is disordered eating – where your mind is driven by emotions, causing unhealthy and destructive habits around food.

“Eating disorders are fueled by anxiety, unhealthy eating habits and obsession around food acting as a coping mechanism for anxiety.

“It’s not just something you struggle with at mealtime, you constantly struggle with it.

“The team has been an incredible help to me. Above all, they have saved me from being hospitalized, but they have also given me and my family hope that I will be fine. best when at one point all we could see was darkness.

“They brought taste and pleasure back to my food, a smile on my face and a real belly laugh that I had forgotten I had. In the end, they helped me find the real Amy.

“For anyone struggling with food, please reach out for help, as I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be in the much better position I am in today without the support of others, especially the staff.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, you didn’t choose to have these struggles and overcoming your eating disorder may be the hardest and proudest thing you can achieve.

“I also think it’s important that people aren’t misinformed by some nutritional advice, a lot of it is wrong.

“Fats are not bad because the body and the brain need them to function – the brain is 60% fat. Follow only the nutritional advice of a qualified dietitian and remember that your nutritional needs are not the same as those of others.”

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