Like drug and alcohol addiction, it can be difficult to determine how do you know if you have an eating disorder. The lines can be gray, but there are certainly some telltale signs that an issue is going on. It’s important to stop it and ask for help before it spirals out of control. Eating disorders of any kind – anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders – don’t need to be dealt with alone. Help exists.
Telltale Signs: How Do You Know If You Have an Eating Disorder?
Learn how to identify eating disorders in yourself before it goes too far and you create irreversible damage to your body. All eating disorders can wreak havoc on your entire system. Some negative side effects of disordered eating include:
- Hair loss. The lack of nutrients can make your hair fall out.
- Skin problems. This includes the growth of a downy “fur” all over your body and face from your body’s attempt to keep itself warm.
- Gastrointestinal issues. This includes stomach ulcers, problems with the esophagus from frequent vomiting, and bowel problems.
- Heart arrhythmias. Not giving your body the strength and nutrition it needs can make your heart skip beats. In extreme cases, it can cause heart failure of death.
- Osteoporosis. Your bones can slowly begin to prematurely deteriorate.
- Fainting and weakness.
- In the case of binge eating, your stomach can rupture after a binge.
Here are some signs that you have an eating disorder and need to speak out and get help.
- You have any of the physical symptoms above and have no other medical reason for having them. This is a huge red flag that you need to get help immediately, because once physical symptoms set in they will only continue to get worse.
- Thoughts about what you have eaten dictate your mood. This works either way – if you feel happy when you’re hungry, or mad or upset when you perceieve that you ate too much. Food intake shouldn’t influence your mood in any sort of extreme way.
- You are hyperfocused on your body. If your self esteem depends on whether or not you think you have a bloated stomach that day, that is a problem. If you spend hours in front of the mirror analyzing yourself and critisizing flaws, also a problem.
- Eating way too few calories for your needs and obsessively counting them. If you are strictly restricting the number of calories you eat even if you don’t need to lose weight, this indicates you are overly focused on what that food is doing to you in terms of weight, when you should really be focused on nutrients and health.
- Binge eating and purging episodes. Feeling out of control when eating usually means you are eating for a reason unrelated to actually being hungry. And, if you purge or get sick afterwards on purpose, this is a clear sign of bulimia.
This all being said, there are many other signs of eating disorders, and some that are very individual to the person. Another clear sign is being in denial that you need help. Being in denial will only make your problem worse. Getting help doesn’t mean that you’ll get larger than you want to be or that you are giving up. It means that you want to make a significant healthy change in your life for a happier future.