Food Issues Month – Anorexia Nervosa

I am so excited to participate in the Food Issues Month, that’s why I have decided to design a series of activities on different food-related issues! This particular lesson focuses on the issue of eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa. Unfortunately, you’re all bound to find tons of information available online since the number of teenagers suffering from such disorders is on the increase nowadays. Although anorexia is considered by many a taboo issue to discuss, I have to say I really admire those people who are brave enough to say how anorexia affected their lives and the lives of their family/friends. I feel that dealing with such issues in class can help students realize how difficult it is for anyone to go through such an experience and possibly encourage them to take action and help others.
Level: Upper-intermediate/Advanced
Age: High teens/young adults

1)      Write on the board the word anorexia. Do students know what the word means? What do they normally associate it with? (e.g. emotional struggle, refusal to eat, body image, peer pressure etc.) What can drive people to starve themselves to death? Have they ever had fellow classmates/friends complain about their weight or even suffer from anorexia?

2)      Show your class a list of the “Ten Warning Signs of Anorexia” (adapted from: Would they add any more signs in the list? (e.g. feeling power/control without eating food, having mood swings, being obsessed with the number of calories you consume per meal etc.)

3)      Explain to your students they are going to read a newspaper article about Katie Green, an artist and illustrator who suffered from anorexia as a teenager. Katie has just written a graphic novel called “Lighter than my Shadow” about her own struggle and recovery. Show your class Katie Green’s own blog ( and go to her graphic novel link so as to discuss several of the pictures included in her book. What was the role food played in her life? How important lunch/dinner time is in students’ life?

4)      Hand students a copy of Guardian’s article: Anorexia: ‘It affected everyone in the family’ ( Ask your students to answer the following questions:

·         How does Katie think anorexia affected her family?

·         Was she aware of how her condition made them feel?

·         What is impressive about Katie’s book?

·         How did Kate treat anorexia?

·         What were the things Kate was going through while growing up?

·         What were the sources of anxiety in her life?

·         How did she eventually manage to overcome anorexia?

Split students in groups and ask them to write more questions they would like to ask Katie.

5)      Play the song “Skinny Love” by Birdy. (
6)  Listen to the song and ask your students what type of song it is (love song). Who is the singer talking to?
7)  Give out to class the lyrics of the song and discuss how the singer feels and why. What are the words/phrases that indicate the singer’s hopes/wishes from now on? Imagine the “conversation” between the two people. What would the other person say?
8)      Ask students to write an extra verse to the song. Alternatively, ask them to write a new “song” and imagine what Birdy’s friend/boyfriend would like to say to her.
PS: There are lots of websites with information on the topic, but I found the following documentary by BBC so interesting, I am thinking of planning more activities on it.

Comments (2)

  1. This is so informative and educational as well. I really learned so much from this article on anorexia nervosa. Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsession or fear of gaining weight. Eating disorders are known to be more common in people whose occupations involve significant focus on appearance like models, celebrities and athletes.

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