Recognizing The Signs of an Eating Disorder

Common Signs of an Eating Disorder

Would you recognize the signs of an eating disorder in yourself or a loved one? Everyone needs to eat. Food is a good thing. It’s fun to cook and it’s fun to eat. The world moves so fast sometimes, but food reminds us to slow down. Meal time lets us take a pause and sit still for a few precious minutes.

Our Relationship with Food

But sometimes a person’s relationship with food becomes complicated. It’s not quite so fun and enjoyable. Some people don’t think of food as something good. They might see it as something bad. Like a curse. They treat food, and the act of eating, as something they despise. Someone might even feel guilty about food. Guilty, not just for eating. They could feel guilty about the fact that they like food. Struggles like these happen inside the minds of people struggling with eating disorders.

Like substance abuse disorders, eating disorders involve making choices. That’s important to distinguish. Eating disorders have multiple contributing factors. Choice is one of those factors, but only one. Humans are not thinking creatures with feelings. Rather, we’re feeling creatures with thoughts.

We don’t make most of our decisions on rationality and logic. Nobody chooses to have a substance abuse disorder. Likewise, nobody chooses to have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are mental illnesses impacted by biology. A distinction like this one is important. You must move away from finding fault. You needn’t find fault with yourself. Fault isn’t helpful. Pursuing it will likely do much more harm than good. You also needn’t find fault with people around you. Blaming others will make you resentful. Resentment cannot contribute to a meaningful solution. It will only make problems worse.

The Signs of an Eating Disorder

Two key signs of an eating disorder are an unhealthy obsession with food, and a similar preoccupation with physical appearance. People with anorexia nervosa might harshly limit the frequency of their meals. Or, they might eat very small portions. But even after such restrictions, an anorexic person may also purge after eating. Purging includes inducing oneself to vomit, using laxatives, or diuretics. A person suffering from an eating disorder treats their body severely. They may initiate an exercise program without increasing how much they eat. They might also be overly concerned about their weight. Or how they look.

Their self-esteem might be easily swayed (for better or worse) by their physical appearance. A person struggling with an eating disorder over a long period of time may develop more physical symptoms. Eating disorders leave the body undernourished. They can cause thinning of the bones, brittle hair and nails, low blood pressure and slowed breathing, lethargy, depression, and more. If left unchecked, these symptoms can cause organs to fail. A person can even suffer brain damage and ultimately die. About 2.7% of adolescents (ages 13-18) struggle with an eating disorder. In adults, the number is 1.2%. Those numbers represent both genders and all races.

There is Hope…

However, eating disorders are not final. There is a way out. Eating disorders can be treated. If you, or someone you love, is struggling with an eating disorder, call Riverwalk Recovery Center now at 855-475-6166.

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