You can’t ask me that!

Why the question ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ can be a hard one

Continuing her series on socially unacceptable questions, Christine Manby explains how to broach one of the most difficult subjects of all, to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Wednesday 27 February 2019 11:40
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hat did you have for breakfast?” is the sort of neutral question that doesn’t seem like it should be difficult to answer. For that reason, it’s often used by sound engineers to check mic levels in a radio studio before a show goes live. “What did you have for breakfast?” they ask the latest person in the chair.

It’s a banal question. It’s neutral. It doesn’t require much thought to respond. Everyone can tell you what they had for breakfast. Yet, Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, wants us to understand that for the estimated 1.25 million people in the UK who have an eating disorder, it can be a very difficult question indeed.

This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and Beat wants to break down the stereotypes that keep us from talking about eating disorders in an open and helpful way. The perception is that eating disorders only affect young, affluent white women and that they all manifest in the same way and they’re all about looking like a supermodel.

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