Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Enabling ServicesPart of Student Services

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are defined by an attitude towards food that causes an individual to alter their eating habits. This can include an excessive focus on weight and shape, which can lead to unhealthy eating behaviours, resulting in damage to health and wellbeing.

Eating disorders can affect people physically as well as psychologically.

You may have an eating disorder if you are experiencing some of the following:

  • Eating habits that seem unusual or unhealthy to yourself or to others.
  • Preoccupation with food, calories, and weight gain/loss.
  • People have raised concerns about your eating habits or your weight.
  • Your weight is very low, very high, or fluctuates frequently.
  • You say that you have eaten when you have not.
  • Feelings of guilt about your food consumption.
  • You spend a lot of time exercising.
  • You are experiencing low mood, depression, or irritability.
  • You regularly do not eat when you are hungry, or you eat a great deal when you are not hungry.

The most common eating disorders are:

Anorexia nervosa

Aiming to get your weight as low as possible, having a fear of becoming fat, and basing your view of yourself mainly on your weight and shape. These things might be achieved by restricting your food intake, exercising excessively, vomiting, and using medicines such as laxatives.

Bulimia nervosa

A cycle of binge eating large amounts of food and feeling that you cannot control this and then purging by making yourself sick or using medicines such as laxatives.

Binge eating disorder

Frequently feeling compelled to eat large quantities of high-calorie food over a short period of time, even when there are no feelings of hunger. This can be triggered by an emotional or stressful event.

Eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)

This is when an individual experiences some of the symptoms of anorexia and/or bulimia but does not strictly fit into one category.

If you are experiencing a crisis, contact First Support in office hours for the opportunity to talk through your concerns and the various options for support. 

It is important that you have the support of professionals when seeking help for an eating disorder, so if you think you have an eating disorder you should make an appointment and discuss your concerns with your GP. There are local services and clinics that focus on eating disorders, and your GP will be able to make a referral if this is the appropriate route for you.

It can be helpful to talk things through with someone you trust, like a friend or relative. Alternatively, self-help groups offer the chance to seek support from others who better understand what you are experiencing. There are a variety of local groups including Student Minds and Beat.

You can also talk to an advisor from Beat, the eating disorders charity, by calling their confidential helpline on 0845 634 1414.

Within the University, you can contact Enabling Services. An advisor will be able to direct you to the most appropriate form of support.


Beat has a wide range of self-help resources and information available through the website as well as helplines.

Tel: 0845 634 1414

Information at

Includes the short SCOFF screening questionnaire.

Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC)

Tel: 03000 11 12 13

Recovery record app

Well-known app for iPhone and Android devices. Includes CBT-based logs for thoughts and feelings and food diaries.

Student Minds



Tel: 0300 123 3393

Information about eating disorders from the well-known UK mental health support organization.

Privacy Settings