Is What You Eat Making You Ill?

Food

funny-ice-cubes-plate-dinner

To say I have always had a complicated relationship with food would be an understatement. Me and food have been in a volatile, long-term relationship since I can remember, while various phases of my life have come and gone, good old food has been my ever loyal companion. It has certainly not been a relationship lacking in passion, it has destroyed me and then it has helped to heal me – we have both hated and loved one another, sometimes to dangerous extremes and often at the same time. It’s been rocky, but food has never given up on me.

There’s nothing quite like being diagnosed with a chronic illness to make you re-evaluate some stuff and for me, a huge part of this stuff was my diet. While there is little scientific evidence to show that diet has any direct impact on the disease, there is no question that food affects the symptoms. The problem is that these are different for every sufferer, for every individual it is a case of trial and error and painstaking food diaries until you eventually figure out what works for you – and even then this is subject to change. So my life became centred around food once again, only this time for entirely different reasons. After years of counting calories, shunning food groups and dreading meal times, now all I wanted was to be able to eat a what I considered to be a ‘normal’ meal. It’s kind of ironic really – in that cruel way life likes to laugh at you from time to time – eating was literally making me ill.

Knowing as you do by now my affiliation with food, it won’t surprise you that when I heard about a food intolerance test a local health food shop was offering, you couldn’t sign me up fast enough. Admittedly, people are sceptical of such things and rightly so, I’m not entirely sure how it works myself, although I’m led to believe it has something to do with the pulse. These tests aren’t cheap (decent ones, anyway) and they’re not as reliable as a medical diagnosis, but they don’t pretend to be either. They are aimed at people who suffer from a range of medical conditions, from IBS to Eczema and are there to help you figure out if what you’re eating is worsening your symptoms or making you ill. Although my nurse may be inclined to disagree, food does have an impact on the body – it can improve symptoms just as it can worsen them – sure a gluten-free diet may not be as affective as a heavy course of steroids but looking to the long-term it’s a more realistic approach (plus, its side-effects don’t include leaving you looking like you’ve shoved too many Maltesers in your cheeks.)

I left the test feeling fantastic, brimming with information and advice – given to me by a very helpful dietician – about how to manage my illness, what supplements I should be taking and the actual effect that food could have if I played by the rules. It was the best decision I ever made, until I sat down, studied my results properly and realised that I could no longer eat anything. When I say anything, I mean gluten, dairy and sugar, which to someone who loves bread, pasta and cheese as much as I do, is basically everything. As well as the main culprits, it also turns out I am “sensitive” – the correct non-medical term, as they are not diagnosed allergies – to sweet potatoes, mushrooms, beef, grapes and strawberries to name just a few.

A few weeks down the line, I wish I could say I have embraced this new lifestyle with open arms and now exist on a completely free-from diet filled with plants and beans, but I am only human. It’s tough and it’s a work-in-progress that I will no doubt share with you if you care enough to follow. However, whilst I regularly rue the day I ever took the food intolerance test – particularly as the boyfriend devours his double cheeseburger with sweet potato fries – it was certainly an eye-opener. As mere human beings food is a huge part of our lives but we really have no idea what we are putting into our bodies or what the hell is going on inside there. More and more people are announcing their intolerances and cutting out certain foods, even if their reasoning is as simple as it makes them feel better, we’re starting to realise that food isn’t just fuel, it is medicine.

In an ideal world, I would have everyone take a food intolerance test, but then in an ideal world I would be able to eat pasta for every meal without consequence. I believe we could all benefit from knowing if what we eat is making us ill. In the meantime, my love-hate saga with food continues, but the relationship is blossoming – I’ve purchased recipe books and even started to bake. I’m slowly learning to love the food that loves me back, it’s not easy but I’m in it for the long-haul this time.

Advertisements

A Complete Guide To The Mental Health Policies

News

 

Today marks the start of a big week. After a month of political party broadcasts, heated TV debates and desperate public appearances, the election is almost upon us. Yet even in this position, less than a week before we must make the informed, intelligent decision on 7th May, 40% of us are still unsure how we will vote.

I totally get it. Even after completing The Quiz, tuning into all of the debates and engaging in my fair share of politically charged discussions, I still can’t say that I am 100% certain about my vote. In fact, I struggle to see how anyone can be.

But for me, theres a game-changer. While I care about all the issues addressed the manifestos, its the party’s mental health policies that could potentially swing my vote.The fact that mental health is even addressed in the parties manifestos this time around (the first time, ever) is encouraging, maybe even hopeful, but who is actually saying what?

Below, I have copied each parties policies on mental health, so if you’re still undecided and the thought of voting in a few days is making you freak out, here’s what they’re all saying about mental health.
Conservatives

• Ensure there are therapists in every part of the country providing treatment for those who need it.
• We are increasing funding for mental health care.
• We will enforce the new access and waiting time standards for people experiencing mental ill-health, including children and young people.
• We will ensure that women have access to mental health support during and after pregnancy, while strengthening the health visiting programme for new mothers
• We will ensure proper provision of health and community-based places of safety for people suffering mental health crises
• We will review how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions back into work.
• People who might benefit from treatment should get the medical help they need so they can return to work. If they refuse a recommended treatment, we will review whether their benefits should be reduced.
• New support for mental health, benefiting thousands of people claiming out-of-work benefits or being supported by Fit for Work

Labour

• People will have the same right to psychological therapies as they currently have to drugs and medical treatments.
• NHS staff training will include mental health.
• Increase the proportion of the mental health budget that is spent on children, and make sure that teachers have training so they can identify problems early
• To support young people’s health and wellbeing, we will encourage the development of social and emotional skills
• Set out a strategy with the goal of ensuring that the great majority of patients can access talking therapies within 28 days, and that all children who need it can access school-based counselling.
• Overhaul the Work Capability Assessment
• Ensure there are no targets for sanctions in Jobcentre Plus
• Commission a new specialist Work Support programme, working with local authorities to give disabled people more support in employment.

Liberal Democrats

• Continue to roll out access and waiting time standards
• Ensure no one in crisis is turned away, with new waiting time standards and better crisis care
• Radically transform mental health services, extending the use of personal budgets, integrating care more fully with the rest of the NHS, introducing rigorous inspection and high-quality standards, comprehensive collection of data
• Introduce care navigators so people get help finding their way around the system
• Develop a clear approach on preventing mental illness
• Support good practice among employers in promoting wellbeing
• Establish a world-leading mental health research fund
• Continue to support the Time to Change programme to tackle stigma against mental health
• Ensure all frontline public service professionals get better training in mental health
• Simplify and streamline back-to-work support for people with disabilities, mental or physical health problems.
• Raise awareness of, and seek to expand, Access to Work, which supports people with disabilities in work.

Green Party

• Ensure that no one waits more than 28 days for access to talking therapies
• Ensure that everyone experiencing a mental health crisis, including children and young people, should have safe and speedy access to quality care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
• The use of police cells as ‘places of safety’ for children should be eliminated by 2016, and by the end of the next Parliament should only occur for adults in exceptional circumstances
• Ensure that everyone who requires a mental health bed should be able to access one in their local NHS Trust area, unless they need specialist care and treatment.
• Implement a campaign to end the discrimination and stigma associated with mental health through supporting the Time to Change programme
• Offering employment support to those with mental health problems.
• Pay special attention to any mental health issues of mothers during and after pregnancy, children and adolescents, Black and Minority Ethnic people, refugees, the LGBTIQ communities and ex-service people and their families.
• Give higher priority to the physical healthcare of those with mental health problems.
• Consider offering more personalised job-seeking support for people with mental health problems
Plaid Cymru

• Plaid Cymru will increase access to talking therapies, as well as funding support for eating disorders, and drug and alcohol treatment.
• We will also increase resources for mental health services for young people in Wales
• We will encourage employers to provide adequate support for staff experiencing mental health difficulties.
• In order to help prisoners with mental health and drug or alcohol problems we will improve co-operation between the prison service and health and substance misuse services.
• We will help people who have the most difficulty finding work, including those with a disability and who have limited skills and qualifications, to find a suitable job.
• This will be achieved by dealing with people fairly and by focusing on what individuals can achieve on a day to day basis without the threat of sanctions.
Scottish National Party

• We’ve already committed £15 million to a mental health innovation fund and will seek to increase this investment to £100 million over the next 5 years.
• Resources will be directed towards projects that will improve mental health treatments
• The fund will also enable further investment in child and adolescent mental health services.
• Scotland was the first country in the UK to introduce waiting time targets for these services, and we have increased the workforce by 45 per cent.
• We will demand an urgent review of the conditionality and sanctions regime. The review will take particular account of the needs of people with mental health issues.
UKIP

• Directing patients diagnosed with a debilitating long-term condition or terminal illnesses to mental health professionals when appropriate
• Recognising there is often a link between addiction and mental illness and offering appropriate treatment where this is the case
• Offering direct access to specialist mental health treatment for pregnant women and mothers of children under 12 months of age
• Fighting the stigma around mental illness and supporting those seeking to get back into work.
• Patients experiencing distress or exhibiting mental ill-health issues when admitted to hospital should have both their physical health and mental wellbeing assessed.
• We will end the postcode lottery for psychiatric liaison services in acute hospitals and A&E departments.
• To fund these initiatives, we will increase mental health funding by £170 million annually, phasing this in through the first two years of the next parliament.
• We will end unfair ATOS-style Work Capability Assessments and return assessments to GPs or appropriate specialist consultants.

Is Depression Affecting Someone YOU Know?

Features

depression-13061 If depression affects one in five adults at some point during their lives, then the chances are we will all know at least one person to be affected by the illness. Recently, I learnt of two separate situations, where someone close to me could be suffering from depression and this compelled me to ask the question, had I not been made aware of it, would I of spotted the signs and symptoms before things went too far?

This thought process then escalated. If I, as someone who would consider themselves to be relatively familiar with the illness couldn’t spot the signs, then how could we expect someone who has never come into contact with mental health problems before to recognise someone close to them was suffering?

The signs of a mental health problem can be screamingly obvious to the sufferer but almost impossible for an outsider to spot, and when treating someone the focus is often on what has led to the illness, rather than how to prevent it.

On World Mental Health Day this year, Radio 5’s Stephen Nolan led an insightful discussion about the need for us to understand the range of mental health problems, just as we do for physical health. The answer to this is obvious yet proportionally absent, education and awareness.

If the people surrounding the sufferer, be it friends, family or colleagues, have been educated about mental health, have a good understanding of illnesses such as depression, and can recognise the signs, this gives them the ability to intervene in an appropriate way and begin to break down the three overwhelming thoughts in the sufferers mind –

“I’m the only one to feel like this”

“Nobody cares”

“Nobody wants to listen”

Here’s a list of symptoms for clinical depression, taken from the NHS website. Take it seriously, depression is real.

“The symptoms of depression can be complex and vary widely between people. But as a general rule, if you are depressed, you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy. The symptoms persist for weeks or months and are bad enough to interfere with your work, social life and family life. There are many other symptoms of depression and you’re unlikely to have every one listed below. If you experience some of these symptoms for most of the day, every day for more than two weeks, you should seek help from your GP.

Psychological symptoms include:

• continuous low mood or sadness

• feeling hopeless and helpless

• having low self-esteem

• feeling tearful

• feeling guilt-ridden

• feeling irritable and intolerant of others

• having no motivation or interest in things

• finding it difficult to make decisions

• not getting any enjoyment out of life

• feeling anxious or worried

• having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself

Physical symptoms include:

• moving or speaking more slowly than usual

• change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)

• constipation

• unexplained aches and pains

• lack of energy or lack of interest in sex (loss of libido) •

changes to your menstrual cycle

• disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning)

Social symptoms include:

• not doing well at work

• taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends

• neglecting your hobbies and interests

• having difficulties in your home and family life

Depression can come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. Many people continue to try to cope with their symptoms without realising they are ill. It can take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.

Doctors describe depression by how serious it is:

•mild depression has some impact on your daily life

• moderate depression has a significant impact on your daily life

• severe depression makes it almost impossible to get through daily life – a few people with severe depression may have psychotic symptoms”

If you’re worried that you or someone close to you could be suffering from depression there are various websites and helplines you can go to for advice: www.mind.org.uk www.samaritans.org  (08457 90 90 90 24-hour helpline) www.rethink.org www.youngminds.org

Stoptober – 2/3 Weeks Smoke Free

Features, News, Opinion

Stoptober-Ad-2

Okay, I’m going to be honest here, after the success of my first week smoke free I have somewhat let myself down over the last week and a half. Lets just say I’ve had a few “moments of weakness.” According to my Stoptober app, at this point I should be in control of my cravings rather than being controlled by them and they should be gradually decreasing by the day, in other words I should have almost cracked it. As I write this I realise I am much more disappointed in myself than I thought, I am forced to ask myself the question, was it worth it? The answer of course, is no.

My first slip-up was last Saturday night during a long-overdue night out. I actually bought a packet of cigarettes – which is almost unheard of for me – but honestly, I think I was craving the idea rather than the actual smoke itself. After I spent the first two battling through the truly awful taste, I gave up. I suppose this is the silver lining here, realising that what you’ve been telling yourself is true, smoking is horrid. Sometimes you just need to make sure.

However I still didn’t learn my lesson, one morning last week I woke up severely lacking in motivation. As ridiculous as it sounds, it was as if the part of me which had been telling me not to smoke just didn’t wake up that day. In a moment of madness, I purchased my first packet of tobacco since the beginning of the challenge, fully intending to smoke the whole lot, I smoked two. I am both pleased and relieved to say that this (still full) packet is now lying dormant somewhere on my bedroom floor, and hasn’t been touched since.

As I near to entering the final week, my sense of achievement is severely lacking due to these discrepancies, which I feel are over-shadowing the main positive. I can only console myself with the fact that I haven’t given up all together, in fact it actually shows great willpower to slip up, get over it and get back on track.

Stoptober – One Week Smoke Free

Features, Opinion

IMG_0571

Here I am, exactly one week after I sat in this very seat desperately trying to distract myself from the enticing packet of Golden Virginia, screaming seductively at me from the bottom of my bag. One week on, I wish I could say that those cravings have miraculously disappeared, that I don’t feel any of those overpowering urges, but that would be lying to everyone, including myself. As I write this I don’t feel a great deal different to how I did last week, the cancer sticks are still niggling at my brain, but there’s one big difference. A week has past, a week which has seen me resist the greatest forms of temptation and not smoke one single cigarette. I’m feeling proud.

This week has faced me with some situations which I was sure I would fall back on, take for example, “the very strong cocktails,” “the boyfriend smoking” and “the long journey.” I was genuinely surprised by own willpower – even though after two cocktails I did beg my boyfriend for “just a drag” – he kindly refused.

According to my Stoptober App, I have achieved various things this week by staying smoke free. After 24 hours my body was completely Carbon Monoxide free (I’m not entirely sure what this means for my body, but I like the sound of it,) my senses of smell and taste should be improving, my sleep pattern should be returning to normal and my lungs beginning to produce more oxygen – if this isn’t enough to convince me I’ve done the right thing then there’s no hope for me. Oh, I have also saved £16.58 by not smoking 40 cigarettes.

I have made it through the first and hardest week of this particular journey and although I am proud, I am also shocked that I’ve stuck it out this far. Honestly, I think I’m starting to get used to being a non-smoker, the cravings are starting to become fewer and I don’t have to constantly remind myself that I can’t smoke. I am on my way to breaking the habit, but god I miss it.

quit-smoking-smokefree

Taking On Stoptober…

Features

stoptober1

I like to think of myself as a relatively healthy person. I eat my spinach, I drag myself out for a run a few times a week and of late I’ve even ditched the coffee. I make a conscious effort try to maintain my health as best I can in both the physical and mental aspects of my life, but as I sit here writing my blog, a blog which ultimately stands for the health of the body and mind, I feel a touch hypocritical. There is one thing about me which is not healthy in the slightest, I am (or was – can I say that yet or is it too soon?) a smoker. We all have our bad habits and this one has become mine.

Before I go on, I should set the scene a little. I’m not a packet-a-day smoker, I smoke on average maybe five a day – more if you give me alcohol. I have never really seen my smoking as an issue, I’ve never been one of those people who religiously tries to quit every Monday morning, I’ve always felt that if the time came when I didn’t want to do it anymore I could just, not do it anymore.

That time came the other day as I inhaled on my rather pathetic looking rolled up cigarette on my way home from work, and I thought, as I often do, “I’m not even enjoying this.” Later when I was scrolling down my Facebook timeline the advert for Stoptober popped up, it was decided.

There are endless reasons to give up smoking aside from the three choices the Stoptober App gives you, those being health, money and family. Of course I want to look after my health, save money and make all my Mum’s Christmases come at once, but I also wanted to set myself a challenge.

If I’m being totally honest, I suppose I wanted to see how easy it would actually be for me to stop, and at the end of day one I can tell you that the answer is not very, not very easy at all. It’s been an emotional day, I’ve gone from super positive and motivated, to pure self-hatred, to pretty much mourning the loss of cigarettes. It’s okay though, my app tells me that the first day is the hardest.

Why Are We Still Waiting?

News, Opinion

When statistics were released this week, revealing that one in ten mental health patients are on a NHS waiting list for more than a year before they are assessed for treatment and one in six have attempted suicide while on the waiting list, it quite rightly made shocking headlines. The latest evidence of the mental health crisis, the latest betrayal by the NHS.

Screen-Shot-2014-09-15-at-19.00.481

Personally, I wasn’t shocked at all. I didn’t need a survey to tell me that patients can often wait over a year, with little to no medical contact. Nor, that in order to receive any sort of immediate help from the NHS the patient must be considered desperate – think attempted suicide and self-harm. I didn’t need the statistics to tell me all this because I have been experiencing it first hand for the last two years, when I initially gathered the courage to seek help for my own mental health.

When I was 17, after various trips to the doctor proved disappointing, a friend said to me, “You need to tell them you’re going to kill yourself or they just won’t do anything.”

As extreme and dispiriting as it sounds, this has turned out to be drastically true. During the sixth months I waited to be assessed and the further year before I was offered any form of treatment, I often felt the need to lie and exaggerate my symptoms at doctors appointments, in a desperate plea for help. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted them to do, I just wanted something to happen.

When I finally began assessment with the Community Mental Health Team I actually felt that the whole process was having a negative rather than positive effect. The lack of appointments was such that I didn’t see anyone on a regular basis and therefore never built up any of those trusting relationships I so often hear about. The Mental Health Nurse was supposed to be my support, someone who I could call at any time, but I didn’t feel that this was the case. Seeking help for a mental health issue is extremely difficult and took every inch of strength I had in me. I constantly felt like I was putting everything in and getting nothing back in return. When I actually did have appointments, I always left feeling despondent, wanting to give up.

I can think of only one way to describe the evidence and my own experience and that is, for want of a better word, depressing. I think of myself as lucky that I found the strength not to give up on life, but the bottom line is nobody should be left feeling this desperate, especially when they have reached out for help. Waiting lists can’t be avoided but patients shouldn’t be left feeling abandoned and even worse, as though they may as well of not sought help in the first place. Waiting until someone has attempted suicide before taking any action is just unfathomable. What is it they say? Prevention is better than cure?

Now my mind is much healthier and I can actually say that I am happy place, but I don’t put this down to the NHS. I put it down to finding ways to overcome battles on my own, including writing this blog. Just last month I finally received an appointment with a psychologist in the post, a year and a half after I first went to see a doctor. I laughed when I opened the letter.

 


IMGA0844_2

Fashion Loves Fast Food

Fashion, Food, News, Opinion

 

Model Lindsey Wixson holds the Moschino iPhone case

No you’re not mistaken, that is a photograph of a fashion model with a packet of McDonald’s fries in her hand. In this case, the golden arches come in the form of an iPhone case, but they have also been strutted down the catwalk – as part of Moschino’s Spring/Summer collection – in various other shapes and sizes. Take the handbags disguised as a happy meals, for example, around £900 will get you the most expensive McDonalds you’ve ever had. It doesn’t stop there. It seems that this summer fashion is all about fast food, but not about eating it.

moschino BLOGG

Moschino started the trend, boldly brandishing the golden arches on their accessories and making dresses out of giant sweet wrappers, but now other designers are jumping on board. Charlotte Olympia has handbags in the shape of Chinese takeaway boxes and Anya Hindmarch has taken it even further by introducing handbags made out of crumpled crisp packets. I can’t help feeling that fashion celebrating fast food this way is just, slightly, hypocritical.

Of course these new lines of accessories have already caused a great deal of controversy, with health campaigners accusing the brands of glorifying fast food and promoting bad eating habits. This comes at a time when the NHS has just announced plans to lower the threshold for gastric band surgery in a bid to cope with obesity, meaning another 800,000 people could be eligible for the weight loss operation. I think it’s safe to say that it is not the models and editors who are sporting these accessories that are cause for concern, it is more likely to be the kids who will get their hands on the fakes (being sold for as little as £3) and buy into the whole fast food concept.

McDonald’s is a brand which hardly needs extra advertising and I’m inclined to believe these handbags are not going to make huge differences to the number of Big Macs sold. That said, there’s something very distasteful about this trend (and I don’t just mean the cheeseburgers.) For me, it is a combination of the glamorisation of fast food in this intrepid way and the sheer irony of the whole thing. I’m just not lovin’ it.

 

MoschinoMcDonalds BLOG

 

Moschino BLOG

Be Mindful for Better Mental Health

Uncategorized

“>20140404-223057.jpg<

The word Mindfulness is being heard a lot more as part of our everyday language recently, as it has become a successfully proven counselling technique for mental health recovery, but also an increasingly popular technique, used by many for coping with the stress of every day life. Mindfulness was first recommended to me by a dietician about a year ago, as part of my recovery process, but it wasn’t until I tired a mediation class in Yogyakarta, Indonesia that I saw the full extent of how effective therapies such as this can be.

The setting for the class was a stunning Chinese Buddhist temple, in the heart of Yogyakarta, the city which locals and now me, believe to be the heart of Indonesia. To say I was apprehensive as I entered the temple, where there was only the rich, enchanting colours and the flicker of candles for company, would be an understatement. I had not expected it to be a particularly easy experience, but as I cautiously wandered further in, I started to wonder just how much I wanted to try this meditation malarkey.
Eventually I came across a local man, who looked just as confused as I did at my being there, and he led me to the back of the temple where two other local women were waiting for the mediation session.

“It’s our first time too” one of ladies said, in English.

My apprehension turned to relief. As with everywhere and everyone I encountered in Indonesia, it takes barely the time spent saying hello for the locals to make you feel welcomed and comfortable.

The session itself was led by a very tall, very limber local man. As would be expected, we sat, cross legged on cushions facing him, the lights dimmed as he talked us through the initial process of relaxing the body and then the mind. Then we began meditating. I urge you not to be put off by the term meditating, as always there are pre conceived ideas and much scepticism, but if you take away all the judgements and pre conceptions, it is really quite simple. Meditation is different for everyone and it takes many different forms but basically, it is a process in which you completely relax both your body and mind, in order to improve your mental health, clear your mind and live a simpler, clearer life. Still sound silly now?

For me, there was nothing spiritual about meditating. Obviously, it is an important part of some religions and other beliefs about it may be much more extreme, but the fundamental thinking and meaning behind it is something which I feel I could definitely apply to my own life, and no doubt many others could too.

I won’t lie, it is incredibly challenging, to completely empty your mind and remain focused for such a period of time is something which takes endurance and an awful lot of practice and I admired those at the class who had the mental strength to overcome any physical or emotional pain which crept upon them.

After the session was over I was left feeling surprised by my own reaction to it. I realised that during the mediation I had felt very connected to, and at peace with body. I had felt like I had control of my body and that it was a part of me, just as much as my mind is. Afterwards I became aware of how detached from my body I usually am, for me it is a shell I must exist in, a very flawed shell at that. For the first time in a very long time I wanted to take care of my mind and body alike, as though they were one. Me.

I know how ridiculous this sounds to the sceptics reading, who are probably thinking I went away travelling and "found myself." I too would of be one of them if someone else was to write this. It isn’t for everyone, but it is something to think about, and perhaps something that could be used to improve mental health in the chaotic, modern world we live in.>

New Statistics, Still No Closer to the Truth

Food, News

1209-girl

 

As concerning as it is, it always restores a little faith in me to see eating disorders being talked about and addressed nationally in the press, as I fear coverage of these issues is getting dangerously thin on the ground. This is until I read further and discover just a bunch of more empty figures and lack of solution. Perhaps this is why, after reading such news reports, I find myself charged with conflicting emotions and opinions, but all eventually pointing to the same thing, despair.

The fact that the number of eating disorder hospital admissions has increased by 8 per cent, for me, can be seen in a number of different ways. The thing that automatically springs to mind is that this is a negative, although unsurprising outcome, but on reading into it I came to the conclusion that this is actually, a pointless statistic.

For one thing, those 2,560 admissions do not take into account those who are treated as out-patients, as the majority are, and even more importantly, the many people who suffer from eating disorders and do not seek help or receive treatment at all. For me, the truth and the real seriousness of the problem lies with the unknown numbers and this is where our attention should be focused.

Though the rise in admissions could be seen as a positive thing, the fact that more people are seeking help could mean that awareness of the seriousness of eating disorders and the treatment available has increased, this is only, in my opinion, a weak possibility. As much as I would hope this to be the case, the truth is much more likely to be sinister, simply more people are suffering.

However, aside from lacking veracity, this collection of data did uncover some very important points. It won’t shock anyone to hear that nine times as many females as males were admitted from 2012 -2013, the most common age of admission for girls was 15, age 13 for boys, but there were children aged five to nine, and even, distressingly, under fives admitted. (I found it particularly interesting – and a bit strange – that The BBC failed to put this last part in their report.) The age of admissions is a shocking statistic which anyone would hope will spur on some serious action to be taken, children under five suffering from these illnesses is something which I and most of society cannot and should not be able to comprehend.

Although the 2,560 people admitted may be the most severely ill, they are receiving the help they need, and this does not provide an accurate reflection of the problem. What about the rest of the story? What about those who are suffering in silence and living in denial? The truth is, eating disorders take many forms, in many people, of many different ages and the scale of this suffering can never be truly expressed in the form of a government statistic. It is real, it is boundless and it needs to be addressed.