It is a common belief that eating disorders only happen to the weakest of minds in the most vulnerable conditions. The reality is that eating disorders can affect anyone at any time if there is not proper knowledge or help available. Eating disorders can be attained over the course of many years or be developed in as little time as a couple months. Different eating disorders seem to have different signs and symptoms, but there are some commonalities between individuals who suffer from them. Fortunately, if the signs of eating disorders are identified and confronted from an early stage, it is easier to maintain a life without the harmful effects that they bring.
An Obsession with Food
One common sign that usually is a beginning factor of the development of an eating disorder is an obsession with food. Those who once enjoyed eating will suddenly identify food as an evil. Calorie counting, eliminating certain food groups, and skipping meals are all signs that food is becoming an obsession for an individual. Eventually, those that become obsessed with food will have very few things they will allow themselves to eat. What once was a minor concern about weight or a diet that was started with friends turns into a priority in life.
Those who are developing an eating disorder will usually try to hide their eating habits from others. Sometimes binge eaters will raid food with no explanation and hide wrappers or plates in secretive areas. Those that develop anorexia will often make it seem like they are eating by taking food but then later disposing of it when nobody’s watching. Secretive behaviors are an early sign that individuals are trying to hide things from others. Who would hide something if there wasn’t something wrong that they did not want others to notice?
Unrealistic Body Image
Especially in the beginning, those that are developing eating disorders will likely have an unrealistic vision of their own bodies. They will look in the mirror and, even if they have already lost weight, think that their image is unacceptable. Often, they will let others know how horrible they think they look. They have no realistic way of measuring what is healthy or not because all they see is that they need to lose weight. For those developing anorexia, it is common for weight to gradually start to leave in the beginning. It is hard to tell that they are starving themselves if it does not seem that they are losing weight right away. This is where body image comes into play because they will likely avoid mirrors or complain about their own appearance when they first stop skipping meals or neglecting to eat completely.
Those dealing with eating disorders will often convey personality changes. Irritability, aggression, anger, mood swings, depression, and isolation are very common in those struggling with an eating disorder. Getting proper nutrition is vital to contentedness because it allows the brain and body to regulate emotions, sleep, and mood. More often than not, people that develop eating disorders are high achievers. They are perfectionists that feel that they need to have control over what they eat so that they have control over what they look like. Even though it may seem that these overachievers have accomplished much, they develop eating disorders from a low sense of self-respect and love.
Signs of Eating Disorders in You or a Loved One
It can sometimes be difficult to identify the early signs of eating disorders. But, it is vital that if warning signs of eating disorders are evident that you or a loved one receives professional help. It is possible to live a life free from the hold of an eating disorder. If your loved one is showing the above signs, the best thing to do is approach them and other family members with love and respect. Bring up both you and your loved one’s concerns about eating habits and empathetically express your worry about the choices they have been making. If you need help confronting a loved one about an eating disorder, there are options for a professionally guided intervention through The Willow Place for Women located in Asheville, North Carolina. If you would like to get treatment for you or a loved one for either eating disorders, drug or alcohol addiction, or both we can help! We provide a number of different services for women who need help getting their lives rebalanced. To see what we do to help women at both of our locations, please visit our website to learn more. Or, if you have any questions that you would like to have addressed, please feel free to call us at 1-888-651-4212.