26th February 2021

Olivia Betts - Addiction Counsellor 

At The Living Room, we welcome people with any type of eating disorder who want to develop a better relationship with food and their body. Many people enter treatment clearly identifying as having a problem with food, but some are addicted to other substances and find, when they no longer have their drug of choice, they've become obsessed with food and their weight. We know that the common thread that runs through each of these disorders is that people are all using food to change the way they feel

In eating disorder recovery, we sometimes use The Loonie Coin Theory to explain the complexities of eating disorders. We invite our clients to imagine this Canadian coin with the Lonnie bird embossed on it. The coin has anorexia on one side, binge eating disorder on the other and bulimia around the edge. Many people who have trouble with eating and their body image, flip this coin, moving from extreme restriction, purging behaviours such as vomiting, laxatives or excessive exercise to binge eating and back again. Usually, people have a preference for which side of the coin they fall on, but in many cases, these behaviours move back and forth on a spectrum of destructive eating behaviours. This flip of the coin can feel emotionally and physically exhausting.

Perhaps you or someone you know can relate to these behaviours? It could be that none of them fit your experience entirely, but you're still struggling with a food and body obsession that has made living a happy and fulfilled life impossible. It is possible that you or someone you love is noticing changes in thoughts, behaviours and feelings around food. The negative consequences of months or years of destructive eating can start to become difficult to hide.

Here are some common eating disorders that can affect anyone of any age, gender or ethnicity - they are all serious mental illnesses that no one should be ashamed of asking for help for:


Anorexia (or anorexia nervosa) is where people reach a low weight because they've restricted how much they eat and drink. They can develop “rules” around what they feel they can and cannot eat, as well as when and where. 



People with bulimia are caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food (called bingeing), and then trying to compensate for that by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or exercising excessively (called purging).


Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) is where people eat very large quantities of food without feeling as if they are in control of what they are doing. It can be planned (and ritualistic), or it can be more spontaneous. It's not the same as simply eating a bit too much one day.    



Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are diagnosed using a list of expected behavioural, psychological, and physical symptoms. A person’s symptoms might not fit any of these three disorders exactly, so they might be diagnosed with an “other specified feeding or eating disorder” (OSFED) instead. 


If you recognise these symptoms in yourself or someone else, be brave and give us a call: 0300 365 0304.

Eating disorders make your life miserable and it can be hard to know what to do for yourself or someone else. 

We provide an inclusive environment where all eating disorders are accepted, where you can share the pain of trying to use food to change the way you feel and how isolated and unhappy this may have made you. The identification, sharing of experience and non-judgmental environment the group creates, enables you to reach your recovery goals. You can see each other getting better and celebrate living free from food obsession together.