5 Signs of Eating Disorders That You May Not Know
An individual who has an eating disorder may have:
- an extreme fear of gaining weight;
- an unrealistic perception of what they should look like;
- an unhealthy relationship with food.
If you think that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder below are some red flags to look out for.
If someone you know is constantly on a diet, that could be a red flag for an eating disorder. Dieting is often a way to compensate for overeating or other unhealthy eating habits. It can be a symptom of anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder.
It’s important to understand that just because someone is on a diet doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder. But when someone is constantly on a diet and at the same time has other signs of an eating disorder, it could indicate a more serious problem. If you’re on a diet and it’s making you feel anxious and stressed, that’s a sign that it may be too restrictive for your lifestyle.
Weight Loss That Is Out of the Ordinary
If a person is sick and needs to lose weight, it would typically occurs at a slow and steady rate. If someone is dieting to lose weight and they are losing weight at a rate that is faster than expected, they may have an eating disorder.
- In fact, people with anorexia often underreport how much they’re eating, so they may not even realize they’re losing weight at a rate that is too fast.
Here are some signs of weight loss that may indicate an eating disorder:
- a change in your usual eating habits
- a decrease in muscle mass
- loss of fat around the hips and thighs
- sores in your mouth and on your tongue (from the inside of your cheeks being scraped raw)
Distortion in Perception of Body Image
If someone you know is constantly criticizing their appearance and is focused on being thinner and thinner, that could be a sign that they are struggling with an eating disorder. A person may have a distorted perception of their body image and believe that they are overweight. Most people who are healthy and have a realistic view of their appearance don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their bodies.
Strong Preoccupation with Food and Calories
If someone you know is obsessively counting calories and always trying new diets and fad eating plans, that could be a sign of an eating disorder. Food becomes an obsession and people often seek to control their eating. They may believe that their food intake is uncontrollable, which can be a symptom of anorexia.
- People with anorexia often count the calories in everything they eat and try to eat as little as possible to feel like they aren’t gaining weight.
Changes in Sleeping Patterns
If someone suddenly starts sleeping 12 hours a day and is exhausted all the time, that could be a red flag that they are engaging in disordered eating. If someone is overexercising, they may also be sleeping a lot because they are physically exhausted.
People with eating disorders have:
- other issues, like anxiety, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorder;
- insomnia, so they may be up all night thinking about their eating disorder;
- nightmares or night terrors;
- feelings of guilt and shame that come from engaging in disordered eating.
If you think that you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important to get professional help. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can lead to long-term health consequences if left untreated. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, know that you aren’t alone. There is help available, you don’t have to go through this alone.