Eating Difficulties



What are eating difficulties?

An eating disorder is a serious mental illness that involves a person developing thoughts, feelings and eating behaviour which can take over a person’s life and make them very unwell. Eating disorders can involve eating too much or too little and becoming really unhappy, worried and preoccupied with things such as weight and shape. It’s important to remember that lots of people worry about what they look like and from time to time might be unhappy with their weight or shape, but for someone with an eating disorder these thoughts and feelings can have a serious impact on their life. It can impact on physical health, education and general daily living, such as hanging out with friends, spending time with family, going out and taking part in activities.

There is no one cause of an eating disorder. Young people who develop eating difficulties and disorders often tell us that eating or not eating can be a way of coping with feelings of sadness, worry and stress. Sometimes life stressors such as exams, bullying, friendship or family relationship difficulties and bereavement or loss may play a part in how someone copes or feels about themselves. There are also some personal factors such as having low self-esteem, experiencing anxiety or depression, setting high standards and being perfectionistic and identifying as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transsexual) are sometimes associated with people who develop eating disorders. However, experiencing any one of these things does not necessarily mean that someone will develop an eating disorder or difficulty.

There are many different types of eating disorders and all of them are serious. All eating disorders are treatable and a full recovery is possible. It is important to notice that you might be having a difficulty and ask for help and advice as soon as possible. Health services take eating disorders very seriously and they will make sure that you are seen soon as possible. 

Here are some signs that there might be a problem and it’s time to get help: 

• Constant thinking or worrying about food, calories, weight gain or your shape. You might notice that it is hard to concentrate on other things
• Reducing your food in order to lose weight and setting yourself strict rules about what you can or cannot eat
• Trying to do other things to lose weight, such as lots of exercise, vomiting taking laxatives (medication to help you go to the toilet) or slimming pills
• You might become tired and more emotional (tearful, irritable)
• If you’re a girl, your periods might stop
• Other people might start noticing and commenting that they are worried about you

Not everyone who has an eating disorder will experience all the signs and symptoms. Also, if you are experiencing some of these signs and symptoms this does necessarily mean that you have an eating disorder, but it is important to get help and advice.

Helpful to know

It is common for people with eating difficulties to not see that there is a real problem. You may not understand why others are concerned or you might disagree that there is a problem altogether. This may make you feel angry and frustrated.

Try to be honest about how you are feeling with those around you. The quicker you can get help for your difficulties, the better the outcome.

Contact services

Caraline accepts referrals from adults and young persons (17 years +) in the Luton and Bedfordshire area.  The service offers psychological therapies for mild to moderate common mental health problems where the primary problem is Eating Disorder.

To find out more visit their website:

Beat provides helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups to help adults and young people in the UK to beat their eating disorders.  These are available to families living across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes

Beat provides helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups to help adults and young people in the UK to beat their eating disorders.

To find out more visit their website: or email:

More information on eating difficulties and great resources can be found on the YoungMinds website.


Milton Keynes Eating Disorder Service is provided by CAMHS

Community Eating Disorder Service (Bedfordshire and Luton)

The Bedfordshire and Luton Community Eating Disorders Service for Children and Young People (CEDS-CYP) is a specialist CAMHS service for young people up to the age of 18 who are experiencing an eating disorder. It is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and covers Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton.

CAMHS – Services – Bedfordshire and Luton Community Eating Disorders Service for Children & Young People (

Telephone: 01234 893300 / 01234 893301

Our vision is to support people to a life worth living and improved health for people in our population, via reduced eating disorder symptoms and distress, and improved functioning and safety. 

How to refer 

If you struggle with food and eating, first approach your GP who can make a referral to our service.

We take referrals from GPs, CMHTs, IAPT services and from other statutory and non-statutory services.

How do I make an appointment 

Once we have received your referral in to our service, we will write to you asking you to call and ‘opt in’ to our service. Once you call, we will offer you an initial appointment in our Tuesday morning clinic. We try to see people within 11 weeks of their referral. After we have spoken to you we will write to you with a summary and our recommendations, and you will be added on the treatment waiting list until a clinician becomes available.

Where will my appointment be?

After your referral we will invite you to attend your initial appointment at the Disability Resource Centre in Dunstable (DRC), where we are based. If you are offered further psychological therapy or dietetic support, we offer clinics both at the DRC and in Kempston, Bedford.

We work in partnership with a local eating disorder charity called ‘Caraline’, who also offers eating disorder therapy. During the referral stage, we will decide together which service is best for you.

Conditions treated

We can help people with symptoms of:

·        Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

·        Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

·        Binge Eating Disorder (BED) and 

·        Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)

·       What this service does 

We work with adults aged between 18-65 who have a registered Luton or Bedfordshire GP, and meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.

Medical Monitoring

Eating disorders can lead to a number of physical health issues.  You may need physical monitoring from your GP as an essential part of your care alongside therapy from our psychology led team. This will be needed when you are referred to our service, and after that as frequently as your GP advises.  What is needed depends on your situation but some examples might be blood tests, pulse/blood pressure etc. We are a psychological therapy led service, therefore GPs will remain medically responsible for clients open to us and provide regular monitoring of their physical health throughout the course of their treatment with us.

Inpatient Admissions

Specialist eating disorder inpatient admissions are usually considered when a person reaches a high level of physical risk that cannot be treated safely by outpatient services and sometimes when the issues are so severe they cannot be addressed without more intensive support. These are considered on an individual basis according to your circumstances and are fully discussed with you by your therapist if the need arises. They are not very common; most people we see have outpatient treatment. In the event of an eating disorder unit becoming necessary we make the referrals, keep in touch during admission and will offer support after discharge. The service fulfils a gate keeping role, referring service users for inpatient admissions to Specialist Eating Disorder Units which are commissioned by the East of England Specialised Commissioning Group (SCG).  Whilst a service user is an inpatient in a specialist EDU, the staff team will aim to attend an early CPA and one CPA meeting near discharge, in order to participate in care planning to facilitate transition between inpatient and outpatient care.