7 Early Signs of an Eating Disorder - Riverwalk Recovery Center
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7 Early Signs of an Eating Disorder

7 Early Signs of an Eating Disorder

Early Signs of an Eating Disorder

You might be experiencing one or more of the 7 early signs of an eating disorder. Know that you have worth. You’re valuable. You matter. You’re enough. You’re important, and you’re smart. You can get through this. Because you’re capable and competent. Your life has meaning. And you can experience and enjoy food. Without shame and guilt. Without contempt and self-hatred. There is a way out. Eating disorders are a disease of the mind, not the body. The main psychological signs you have an eating disorder involve the ways you think about food. How you think about food affects how your body responds to food. That’s when you’ll begin experiencing physical signs of an eating disorder.

Types Of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders might appear similar. In some ways, they are. But one should not dismiss them all as “the same.” No matter how you struggle, you didn’t choose this. But you can choose a different way to live. You have that power. The 3 main categories of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa

Those suffering from anorexia nervosa treat their bodies severely. Preoccupied by their weight, they perceive themselves as heavy. To onlookers, they may appear thin or even emaciated. They strictly limit how much they eat. When exercising, they follow rigorous, harsh routines.

Bulimia Nervosa

People struggling with bulimia nervosa tend to consume large amounts of food. You might hear this referred to as “binging.” To lose or maintain weight, a person with this eating disorder will then “purge” the food from their bodies. They might induce themselves to vomit. As an alternative, they might use over-the-counter solutions that make them urinate (diuretics) or defecate (laxatives).

Binge-Eating Disorder

Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It occurs when a person exercises no control over how much they eat. When eating, they may eat too fast. Or, they may have a meal that lasts for hours. Unlike anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, those with binge-eating disorder do not exercise or purge.

7 Early Signs Of An Eating Disorder

Now that you know the 3 kinds of eating disorders, you can examine their similarities. Regardless of the disorder itself, here are 7 early signs of an eating disorder.

Obsession With Food

The first early sign of an eating disorder is an obsession with food. Depending on the eating disorder, the obsession may manifest in a few different ways. Someone suffering from anorexia nervosa will go out of their way to avoid food. They might skip meals, or fast for entire days. When they do eat, they may only eat very meager portions. For those struggling with bulimia nervosa or binge-eating disorder, a food obsession may look different. They may eat to soothe guilt and shame. Moreover, they may use eating as a form of self-punishment.

Low Self-Esteem

Those with eating disorders fluctuate in how they perceive themselves. Remember, an eating disorder begins in the mind. Not the body. People with eating disorders might think they are either too much or not enough. Not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. On the other hand, they may believe they are too fat, too heavy, too ugly. These distorted perceptions lead to unpleasant, even disturbing thoughts about one’s identity. Someone with an eating disorder may voice these perceptions aloud. They may dismiss and ridicule themselves verbally. Verbal self-abuse generally occurs around any topic related to food, body image, and weight.

Sudden Changes In Weight

Eating disorders strain the body. Those with anorexia nervosa consume too little food and stress the body with exercise. Those suffering from bulimia nervosa stress the body with excessive eating, followed by inducing vomiting. Binge-eaters stress the body by eating too much, eating too quickly, or for eating too long at one time. When subjected to this kind of stress, the body will respond. Those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa may experience extreme thinness. Those with binge-eating disorder experience rapid weight gain. Sudden changes in weight tax the body, leading to dehydration and cardiovascular problems.

Concealing Or Hiding Food

If you associate food with shame and guilt, you may feel like hiding. Some people with an eating disorder do not like eating around other people. Others go so far as to eat in their bedroom or even their closet. If you  have a place where you keep a “secret stash” of junk food, this is a telling sign of an eating disorder.  You might be untruthful about when, or how much, you eat. Those suffering from bulimia nervosa will hide their purging sessions. They will also conceal diuretics and laxatives.

Feelings Of Depression After Eating

It’s perfectly ok to like food. It’s normal even to love food. If you’re having a bad day, a good home-cooked meal can make all the difference. But for those suffering from eating disorders, meals work differently. After eating, a person with an earring disorder may experience depression. They may lose sleep or sleep too much. They might not feel pleasure in activities they used to like. Symptoms of depression, and other mental illnesses, often happen alongside an eating disorder.

Anxiety Around Meals

On the other side of depression is anxiety. For a person with an eating disorder, food is a discomfort.  They feel anxious about food. Just thinking about food can make them uneasy. This anxiety might manifest in a number of ways. A person might be quick-tempered or angry. They might sweat, or their hands might shake.

Black And White Thinking About Food

Someone with an eating disorder has strong convictions about food. And they will express those convictions with their words and behavior. They will think about food in black-and-white terms. Certain foods are “good,” certain foods are “bad.” Their moods will be affected by how they conceptualize different foods. In the most extreme cases, a person suffering from an eating disorder may regard all food as “bad.” How To Help Now that you know these 7 early signs of an eating disorder, you are equipped to help. Whether you need help yourself, or want to know about helping someone else. Call Riverwalk now at 877-863-3869.
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