Category Archives: Eating Disorders

Binge Eating Tips

One of the problems with binge eating is that people get stuck in a vicious cycle where concern over shape and weight leads to dieting and restriction
of food, this then leads to binge-eating which makes the person feel worse and so the cycle restarts

Routined Eating

Get into a routine of eating regular meals and snacks. Erratic eating confuses the body and can mean you can’t recognise hunger and fullness signals, so you need to re-train yourself. Leave no more than 4 hours between eating and do your best not to eat outside of your meal routine.

Dietitian UK: Binge Eating Cycle

Go Slow:

Concentrate when eating, try to eat at a sensible speed, sit down when eating and make times for meals.

Analyse the binges:

Keep a food diary and review it regularly – are you missing any meals or snacks. If binges are happening, is there a pattern, for example is it in the evenings after dinner when you are bored?

Limit binge foods:

Limit binge foods in your house, car and desk drawer! The less access you have to then the less likely you are to binge.

Keep Busy:

Plan activities into your day and evening to keep your mind and hands occupied. Binges can occur due to boredom, loneliness, tiredness, anxiety and stress.

Distraction Power:

Distraction is one of the best techniques for preventing a binge. Write down a list of activities you can do that don’t include food: taking a shower, exercising, visiting a friend, playing music, reading a book etc… use these when the urge to binge creeps up on you.

This post was written for Slimsticks, see the original post here.

What is Binge Eating?

This post was written for Slimsticks.

One of the words that commonly comes up when talking about diets and weight loss is Binge. For many this means a one off slip/lapse or an over-indulgence. For others it’s a recurring cycle that they hate but are stuck in….

A binge is defined by the American Psychiatric Assoication (1) as:

  1. Eating in a discrete period of time (e.g. 2 hours) an amount of food that is definitely large than most people would eat during a similar period of time and circumstances.
  2. A sense of lack of control during the epsiode of eating.

People describe being out of control and in another zone when bingeing, some people can’t actually remember a binge at all. Whereas other people plan a binge, buying the foods and working out when and where they can eat it. The majority of binges happen in secret and are not talked about. Binge foods are usually high sugar high calorie foods, high fat foods or carbohydrate rich foods, for example chocolate, biscuits, cakes, bread, cereal. However it can just be whatever is available.

The first moments of a binge bring pleasure and a sense of euphoria, but these feelings don’t last. People tend to eat rapidly during a binge, researchers have found women with bulimia are food twice as fast as women with no eating disorder (2).

The typical binge is 1,000-2,000kcal, but they can range up to 10-15,000. (3) To put this in context the average women should be looking to eat no more than 2,000kcals per day.

Binges where more normal amounts of food are eaten but the person still has all the feelings of being out of control are called Subjective Binges and binges where large amount of foods are consumed are known as Objective Binges.

What can trigger a Binge:

One of the keys to stopping binges is to work out what triggers them, here’s some of the common triggers:

  1. Feeling fat
  2. Gaining Weight “I’ve failed so may as well give up”
  3. Hunger and Dieting – The thought of food can become overwhelming.
  4. Breaking a Dietary Rule
  5. Having free time or a lack of routine.
  6. Boredom
  7. Premenstrual Tension
  8. Alcohol

I’ll be dealing with tips on how to break the binge cycle in the next blog post.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnositc and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).
  2. Effect of eating rate on binge size in Bulimia Nervosa. Kissileff H.R et al (2008). Physiology and Behavior 93 (3): 481-485.
  3. Overcoming Binge Eating. Dr Christopher G. Fairburn (1995). The Guildford Press

Priya on Victoria Beckham: in the press.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been quoted in a couple of the papers. It seems Victoria Beckham is a hot topic and there’s been a fair bit of discussion around her face and weight.

Here are the links to a couple of articles that I’m quoted in. The first is in the Daily Mail and the second in the Daily Star.

Celebrity culture can make us feel like we should look a certain shape or eat a certain way but the best advice I can give you is to check who and where your advice comes from. Make sure it originates from a qualified source, preferably a dietitian or an NHS site (see my post on nutrition experts here). There are lots of dietary myths out there and many diets that just really are not the way to lose weight.

If you need some more advice please feel free to contact me, I love to talk about eating and all things food related 🙂

Do you think you have an Eating Disorder?

Are you worried you may have an eating disorder or do you have a loved one you are worried about? Read on for signs and advice on what to do next.

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour.

They can affect all types of people at all stages of life and are more common than you think with 1 in 250 women and 1 in 2,000 men suffering from anorexia nervosa. Bulimia is 5 times more common than anorexia and 90% of sufferers are female. Binge eating usually occurs later in life affecting both men and women.

Eating disorders often occur out of the need for a person to feel in control of life or as a reaction to stress or a bad experience in life. They can be a way of coping with feelings that are making you unhappy or depressed. It may be difficult to face up to and talk about, feelings like anger, sadness, guilt, loss or fear.

Common Signs:

  •  Severe weight loss
  • Periods stopping
  • Feeling disastified with your weight and body shape
  • Having a fear of gaining weight
  • Becoming obsessed with calories adn what you eat
  • Thinking about food all the time
  • Feeling guilty after eating
  • Excessive exercising
  • Being sick after eating
  • being secretive about food and not wanting to eat with others.
  • Feeling out of control and eating large amounts of food in one go

If you feel you or a loved one may have an eating disorder the best place to go to get help is your GP, they can signpost you to your local eating disorder services and give you initial advice and support. It can be hard to admit you have a problem, but think about how much better life would be if you didn’t have to worry about your eating.

If you have a close friend you trust maybe try talking to them about how you feel, talking about it can be very therapeutic. Recovery is a step by step process that takes time and usually involves psychological help as well as input from a specialist dietitian with experience in eating disorders.

The Beat website is also a great place to get good information.

This post is take from

Emotional Eating

Many people turn to food for comfort, consciously or unconsciously. For example when they’re facing a difficult problem or feeling low. Eating can be a way to suppress or soothe emotions, such as stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness and loneliness.

Some higher calorie, fatty and sugary foods have seemingly addictive qualities. After eating chocolate your body releases endorphins, giving you a natural high, boosting your mood.

Food can also be a distraction. If you’re worried or anxious, eating comfort foods makes your thoughts focus on the pleasant taste. Unfortunately, afterwards the anxiety returns plus the additional guilt about overeating.

Although emotional eating can make you feel better, it’s a temporary fix and leads to eating too many high-calorie foods. The good news is you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits.

  • Are you really hungry? If you ate recently and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not. Try a glass of water instead.
  • Know your triggers. Keep a food and thought diary looking at how you feel when you eat. Look for patterns that reveal negative eating patterns and triggers. For example do you eat more after a bad day at work?
  • Try distraction techniques – Take a walk, watch your favourite film, listen to music, have a warm bath, read or call a friend.
  • Limit your comfort foods, out of sight, out of mind! Keep a selection of healthier snacks around such fresh fruit, low fat yoghurt or plain popcorn
  • Eat a balanced diet, with regular meals. If you’re not eating enough you are more likely to give in to emotional eating.
  • Exercise regularly and get adequate rest. Your mood is more manageable and your body can more effectively fight stress when it’s fit and well rested.

If you slip up, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience, and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future.

This post is quoted from please click for more information.

A battle of the mind.

This week it’s Eating Disorders Awareness week (see the Beat website for more). A topic very close to my heart. I have worked in the field of eating disorders for about 7 years now.


Remembering back to my first few days in my NHS post I was pretty petrified! What was I going to say to someone who was refusing to eat? How could I help? How much of a challenge was this really going to be and was I up to it?

7 years on I’ve completely fallen in love with working in this field. It’s flipping hard work most of the time, but it’s so rewarding too.  I’ve met some amazing people who have shown such strength and grim determination. It hasn’t always been enough and it certainly hasn’t always been a happy place to be, but it is a job that makes me thankful for my life and my health almost everyday. Most of the people I’ve worked with have talked about a raging battle going on in their mind, to me that’s one of the key challenges – how to overcome this battle.

My approach to working in Eating Disorders has been to celebrate the small successes, however small. There have been moments when I have literally jumped up and down in excitement when a client has managed 1 mouthful of a slice of toast. In fact I feel like celebrating all over again now – WOOHOO! If that doesn’t make you excited then a career in Eating Disorders probably isn’t for you 😉 In my job I have to be empathetic, caring, patient, calm, focused and have attention to detail, but also direct, firm and in charge. To my clients I am the authority on nutrition and I have to show I know my stuff or they aren’t going to trust me. Fortunately for me, this has all come pretty naturally. I’m not sure my husband would say I’m a naturally patient person, but put me in front of a client with an Eating Disorder and suddenly I am.

Recovering from an Eating Disorder takes courage, tenacity and TIME. There is no quick fix. Living with someone who is recovering is amazingly hard too. If you know someone who is struggling then be patient with them and be kind. Try not to tell them they look like they have put on weight or that you’ve noticed they are eating more. Just support them quietly and gently, ask them if/how they need support. Give them time. It takes time to become ill so it will take time to get well also. Lastly remember that just because someone is a normal weight does not mean they are all better.

Bye Bye NHS, Hello Freelance World.

So this week has been a momentous one for me, in fact this month has been pretty huge. At the start of this month and this year I won an #SBS award from Theo Paphitis (Dragon’s Den), a huge surprise and honour. Then I had the excitement of my new logo being unveiled, which makes me smile everytime I use it.

Dietitian UK


So after all that fun I then had another momentous occasion this month… my last day of working for the NHS.

I’ve worked for the Eating Disorder Service as part of Southern Health NHS Trust for 6 years and its fair to say I have really loved my job (well most of the time!). When I started in the position there had been no dietitian for some time, I was presented with 1 out of date diet sheet and a thin folder of paper, that was a dietetic department! Over my years there I have built up the resources, leaving behind me a wealth of diet sheets, folders full of the evidence base for all the advice I give out and resources for all the groups that are run. One big part of my job that I have loved is being part of the daycare team, eating meals with the clients (or watching them not eat as the case sometimes can be), cooking with them and running group sessions. It’s definitely not a job for the faint hearted but it is something I will miss.

Why have I done this? Well mainly due to having this little one to run around after. Working 9-5 for me just wasn’t going to work. So we’ve taken the plunge, pushed aside the stable income and am working in a way to suit family life. It’s a big leap for me but one that feels very right.

I’m now looking forward to the future of Freelance work. So if you need a dietitian to work with your company, to see you individually or to work with you on PR materials, please get in touch!

What is “Normal” Eating?

The words “normal” eating mean all kinds of things to all kinds of people. In my line of work with eating disorder clients I’m often encouraging them to move towards a more “normal” eating plan and we discuss what that looks like. Today I asked on twitter what “normal” eating means to people and below are some response combined with other responses from my group sessions with patients  and a few from myself 🙂 It generated quite a debate, so I thought I’d share it with you, what do you think?

Normal Eating is:

  • eating something at least three times a day.
  • eating more than you feel you need to eat on some occasions (over-eating) and eating less than you need on other occasions (under-eating).
  • Listen to your body, eat when hungry, stop when full. No food is bad food, everything in moderation.
  • A regular meal pattern that maintains a healthy body weight & provides a correct balance of nutrients.
  • Ensuring a healthy balanced diet for optimal health & wellbeing with enough fluid too.
  • Not eating in response to your emotions, so eating or not eating on occasions because you feel unhappy, “bad”, or tense.
  • eating foods, without feeling guilty.
  • eating in a flexible way so that it does not interfere with your work, study or social  life.
  • eating sufficient food and a variety of foods, all things in moderation.
  • being aware that eating is not the most important thing in life but knowing that it is important for good health.


Normal Eating is:

  • not counting calories weighing food, or following a strict diet.
  • not always eating low calorie/diet foods
  • not eating to lose weight but knowing that you can “watch your weight” if you want to.
  • not assuming that you can control the amount and type of food your body needs better than your body can.
  • not having to constantly weigh yourself for reassurance.



Visualisation leads to better dietary change

An interesting piece of research caught my eye this week. A team of psychology researchers in Montreal looked into how using mental imagery techniques may increase the likelihood of people eating more fruit and vegetables. They asked 177 students to aim to eat more fruit over the next 7 days. Those who planned, wrote it down and visualised how they were going to do it (e.g. where and when they would buy, prepare and eat the fruit) were twice as likely to increase their consumption.


This was based on sports psychology. “Athletes do lots of work mentally rehearsing their performances before competing and it’s often very successful. So we thought having people mentally rehearse how they were going to buy and eat their fruit should make it more likely that they would actually do it. And this is exactly what happened,” says Bärbel Knäuper.


As a dietitian part of my job is helping people plan how they will manage to alter their eating habits so this research is further evidence that planning really is key. Talking through with someone what your long term goals are, how you can put them into place and having a short term goal to achieve are vital components of achieving dietary change.