Counselling support for eating disorders and body image.
Rethink your body
To get the freedom to live the life you want
About Harriet
​​​‘In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer’. Albert Careb

So you had problems with food?

In my late teens to mid twenties, I had Bulimia Nervosa. For me, although initially about changing my body shape and losing weight, it quickly became a way I coped with my emotions and it helped distract from problems and life pressures. Bingeing and purging was a strategy I came to rely on for a temporary escape from life and from acknowleding my own values and thoughts. Back then, I valued fitting in more than being myself.

What do you think helped you change?

I never saw the eating problem as something that was going to stick around. Therefore, even in my darkest days, I believed there was a way out and I clung on to hope. I ventured along many dead ends before finding answers. Anyone reading this, I encourage you to wholeheartedly do the same.
When I had bulimia, there was limited support available back then. I was fortunate to have some counselling which really helped me to understand why I was struggling with food. It involved some exploration and understanding of my past. It also gave me valuable strategies and skills to begin to change my behaviour in the present.  I  valued support from close friends and my partner; structure and routine; eating well to balance blood sugar and reduce cravings; self-help books; a whole mix really.

Did you have lots of relapses?

Recovery was a gradual process rather than an overnight change. This is really important to take on board when dealing with an eating problem.  Relapses become valuable learning experiences. The more relapses you have, the faster you can recover and get back on track.

Is it possible to make a complete recovery?

I would say a definite yes, although I appreciate not everyone might agree with me. 
For me recovery has meant: -
  • Acceptance of my natural body weight and size. 
  • Permitting all foods in, rather than categorising them into good and bad.
  • Managing feelings without turning to food.
  • Embracing self-care wholeheartedly.
  • Learning to say no and be true to my values.
  • Letting go of control and enjoying the moment.
  • Not being afraid to be who I am, warts and all!

How did you become a therapist?

When I was recovering, I really wanted to make a difference in the eating disorders field and support others who had similar problems. I always believed that if I had sought help earlier, my recovery would have been faster. I was also fascinated by people and the world of psychology and personal development.   I initially was involved with voluntary work in eating disorders which later translated into paid work whilst I trained as a Counsellor. My training was general but early on I knew I wanted to specialise and did additional eating disorders training. I have then been fortuanate to work with some incredible therapists along the way as I have gained expertise both in the NHS and private sector.

What are you top tips for change?

When you are looking after yourself with high quality self-care, using food to cope conflicts greatly with this. What do I mean by self-care? Getting enough rest; investing time in yourself to recharge; doing activities that raise your energy and make you happy; spending time with people who support and validate who you are.
Eat well. Balance blood sugar. Eat nutrient rich foods. Fuel your body. 
Don't diet, starve or be rule-bound with eating. It will likely lead to bingeing as the backlash against deprivation.
If you want the cake, have the cake. Enjoy it. Savour it. Celebrate it. No foods are forbidden.

What would you say to someone who is struggling with an eating problem?

You are more likely to recover and find new ways of coping if you access support. You might feel guilty or ashamed for having the problem. Keeping it secret will likely only drive it further underground and compound these negative feelings.
You could initially speak to a trusted friend or family member. You might read some self-help material. You may think about counselling.
Stay hopeful and persist in getting support. You don't have to be stuck with this forever. A life free from the shackles of using food to cope is a real possibility. It will free you up to get on with living.

Media information

  • Harriet Frew is a specialist counsellor offering therapy and breakthrough programmes to support women to feel great about food, eating and their body image.
  • Harriet is a contributor to local BBC Radio, offering her experience and counselling expertise in this area.
  • Harriet has featured in Psychologies Magazine, Planet Mindful, Mail-Online, Star Magazine and Boots Health and Beauty Magazine.
  • Harriet writes a weekly blog and also writes for and The Mighty.
  • Harriet has also worked on a voluntary basis with B-eat (Eating Disorders Association) on their Self-Help Network.
  • Harriet currently works full-time for the NHS Adult Eating Disorder Service in Cambridge.

         Harriet Frew

Qualifications and experience

I am  a qualified Counsellor (Dip Counselling) and accredited, registered member of BACP​ MBACP (Accred).  I have specialist qualifications - Diploma in Eating Disorders and a Masters degree in Nutrition. I have worked in the NHS and privately for 16 years. I have also worked in the past as a volunteer with B-eat (Eating Disorders Association).
​​​​​Break free from poor body image; disordered eating; anorexia nervosa; bulimia nervosa; binge eating; emotional eating; food restriction; over-exercise; purging; can't stop thinking about food; orthorexia
Counselling support for eating disorders and body image.