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5 mins with... Habiba Khanom

Posted on by from Changeboard

Living with an eating disorder is hard at the best of times, but how does it feel when you're in a workplace environment? Habiba Khanom, BBC journalist explains how she copes day to day.

You have been open about your eating disorder; what are the daily challenges?

I am always deeply ambivalent about whether I should eat or not, how much I should eat that day, how much exercise I should do. Should I eat more, should I eat less? It’s a mental battle everyday.

"Training about eating disorders would be very beneficial to employers"

When did you tell people at work about your condition?

I told my colleagues and managers about my eating disorder a couple of months into my job as it was getting hard to hide it, especially when colleagues were always inviting me to work lunches and dinners.

How do you feel when you eat at work?

I actually don’t eat at work, sadly. It’s something I’ve always struggled with since I started working. There were certain times when I had to force myself to eat at work because I was feeling very faint. So when I do eat in the workplace, it’s the last resort. 

What would you say to someone going through a similar experience?

I would advise anyone in a similar position to tell someone at work about their disorder. It’s easy to hide it at first but as time goes on, you will need to do things at work that involve food. Telling a colleague was a relief for me because I felt I now had someone who understood what I was going through and could look out for me, who could also give me advice and supported me during meal times at work.

How would you advise leaders to manage a member of staff member with an eating disorder?

I think employers need to be better informed and understand more about eating disorders. Food gives us energy and the ability to work safely, but for someone suffering with an eating disorder, food can be very challenging. So, I think that relevant courses and training about eating disorders would be very beneficial to employers. 

Emily  Sexton-Brown

By Emily Sexton-Brown

Emily is the commissioning editor at Changeboard

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