Food isn't just our fuel – it carries rich layers of social and cultural symbolism, as well as personal psychological meaning.

Taken together with the image and body-consciousness of western culture, it is not surprising that food can become a symptom, and sometimes a source, of emotional difficulties. Distress focused on food and eating is a relatively common issue for students, and affects both male and female students.

If you're finding that your relationship with food has become a source of distress or difficulty, then it's a good idea to seek help as soon as possible. If you think you may have an eating disorder then it is important to consult a GP. It is also advisable to consult your GP if you are feeling persistently low, or if your difficulties are significantly affecting your daily functioning.

Let your personal tutor or course leader know if you are having difficulties affecting your studies – they are there to help, and can offer useful advice and support.

You can learn skills to help you tackle issues with body image and general confidence, and there's a lot of support available to start treatment for eating difficulties or disorder.

Library books

The University library has copies of the following books which could be useful:

  • Cooper, P. J - Bulimia Nervosa & Binge-Eating - 157.7/COO
  • Fairburn, C.G - Overcoming Binge Eating - 157.7/FAI
  • Freeman, C - Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa - 157.7/FRE
  • Gauntlett-Gilbert, J - Overcoming Weight Problems - 616.398/GAU
  • Orbach, S - On Eating - 616.8526/ORB

Other resources

If you would like to research more around the topic of food-related distress and disorder, the Student Wellbeing Service can recommend the following self-help resources:

‘NHS self-help guide: Food for Thought’

The ‘Food for Thought’ booklet suggests steps you can take to develop a healthier lifestyle. 

‘NHS self-help guide: Eating Disorders’

This booklet helps you recognise an eating disorder and understand the things that cause and keep it going, as well as helping you consider whether you want to make changes and what steps you could take to do so.

Read the booklet

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Information from the Royal College of Psychiatrists on:

Information and support for men with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, compulsive eating, compulsive exercise and ‘bigorexia’, including an online forum.

Visit website


National charity providing information on eating disorders as well as helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups for people affected by eating disorders.

Visit website

Overcoming Disordered Eating

Comprehensive set of workbooks from the Centre for Clinical Interventions, an Australian specialist public mental health service, aimed at helping with eating problems. Also look for their workbook on ‘Building Body Acceptance’ and topics such as improving low self-esteem and tackling perfectionism.


Other self-help resources

Take a look at our other self-help resources.