About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. A person with an eating disorder focuses excessively on weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

Eating disorders include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially.

It has been seven months since I was discharged. I called to speak to Dr Hind Al-Khairulla my consultant psychiatrist because I want everyone at Ellern Mede to know that I am happy, I believe in myself and my future and I have to thank you all for my recovery. I am close to finishing my first year at College.

Eating Disorder Test

How can you tell if you have a problem with food or eating? Here’s a simple test adapted from Morgan, Reid & Lacy’s well known ‘Scoff’ Questionnaire. This is not a replacement for a clinical diagnosis, but you will find it useful if you are wondering if you could benefit from medical help or just counselling to improve your relationship with food.

Answer these 6 questions honestly:

  • Do you feel like you sometimes lose or have lost control over how you eat?
  • Do you ever make yourself sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you believe yourself to be fat, even when others say you are too thin?
  • Does food or thoughts about food dominate your life?
  • Do thoughts about changing your body or your weight dominate your life?
  • Have others become worried about your weight?
  • Two or more “yes” answers indicate some level of disordered eating. Ellern Mede’s view is that you should seek a professional opinion. Eating disorders are serious illnesses, but with the right treatment people can, and do, recover.


Types of eating disorders:

  • anorexia nervosa – when a person tries to keep their weight as low as possible; for example, by starving themselves or exercising excessively

  • bulimia – when a person goes through periods of binge eating and is then deliberately sick or uses laxatives (medication to help empty the bowels) to try to control their weight

  • binge eating disorder (BED) – when a person feels compelled to overeat large amounts of food in a short space of time

  • other specified eating disorders (OSFED) is when a person has some but not all of the signs of typical eating disorders

  • selective eating disorder (SED) also known as avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) – is when a person limits their consumption of certain foods based on the food’s appearance, smell, taste, texture, or a past negative experience with the food.

  • pervasive refusal syndrome (PRS) – this is now referred to as pervasive arousal withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). It is a rare disorder first described by Ellern Mede founder, Bryan Lask and colleagues in 1991 (until 2011 this was included in the standard psychiatric classification system, the DSM. It describes a condition when a person’s refusal to eat, drink, talk, walk or self-care, is usually accompanied by resistance to treatment; hospitalisation is usually necessary. 

    Whilst eating disorders are more common among teenagers and young adults these are serious illnesses which can affect anyone and at any age. Eating disorders affect thinking, memory and information processing. They are associated with thinking in a detail-focused and inflexible manner. The eating disorder often serves an important purpose for the person who has it – perhaps making them feel more in control or special in some way. This can make it difficult for the person to think about recovery. The causes of eating disorders are not fully understood but it is likely that a combination of biological, social and psychological factors may play a role.

    How do you know if you, or your loved one, needs an eating disorder treatment? Conditions as complex as eating disorders mean that there are variations in the typical signs and not all symptoms will apply to everyone. If behaviour has changed as a result of the changing relationship with food, it is always advisable to ask a GP to arrange a specialist assessment. The faster you access treatment the better the outcomes for the patient. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance on eating disorders states: “People with eating disorders should be assessed and receive treatment at the earliest opportunity.” Ellern Mede offers immediate advice and assessment and offers both NHS and Private eating disorder treatment services at several inpatient and outpatient locations in London.

    Eating disorders cause significant difficulties for those affected and their families. This includes social and relationship difficulties, mood difficulties such as depression and anxiety. Eating disorders also impact an individual’s physical health, including bone health, energy levels, menstruation and internal organs such as the heart.

    Measured re-feeding may be required as part of treatment. Ellern Mede is rare in its leading therapeutic approach and expertise in this intervention. Only 35% of children’s eating disorder services in the UK are able to offer the type of re-feeding that is required for patients with a serious eating disorder.




NHS referrals

Ellern Mede has provided specialist Tier 4 eating disorder services to the NHS since 2000. We respond to referrals within 24 hours.

Private referrals

Call now for immediate access to Ellern Mede specialist private eating disorder services. Accepted referrals begin treatment within two weeks or faster in emergencies.