Everyone is known to have their own habits that are adaptive or maladaptive in different ways, but there are a few overarching qualities to every disorder that are finite signals that the individual is experiencing a true problem. Eating disorders are particularly difficult due to the vast symptoms that each person can develop individually. Here are a few symptoms that are sure signals it is time to see a mental health care provider for proper care and support.
1. Anxiety around meals.
With eating disorders, food becomes a drug that the person restricts, indulges, or purges from his or her body. Naturally, people dealing with issues surrounding food would become anxious when they are forced to face their substance. If you or someone you know starts to act out of the norm around meals, they might be experiencing trouble with an eating disorder. A person struggling with binge eating disorder would consume his or her food extremely fast and sit around awkwardly as everyone else finishes. Bulimia, however, would eat the meal extremely fast and then try to leave the meal and use the restroom as fast as possible after. This is because a sink or toilet is the most convenient locations to purge the body of the meal. A person with anorexia would pick at his or her food until the meal is ended without consuming any good portion of food. If you feel that someone you know might be struggling with an eating disorder, observe this person and look for these behaviors during meals.
2. Obsession about food intake and weight.
People with eating disorders always try to control their food. Bingers are able to consume thousands of calories in one sitting. Thus, this consistent binging eventually leads to weight gain, which can bring about an obsession over where the weight is at. Anorexics restrict their food intake to the point that the body begins to enter starvation mode. Some people are able to restrict their daily intake to only a few hundred calories a day. This is characterized by a loss of weight. Anorexics are usually obsessed with their weight and usually weigh themselves several times a day. The slightest change in weight, especially any change that signifies a gain, will cause these people to panic and restrict their daily intake even further to ensure that the gaining stops and the losing resumes. Bulimics, however, have constantly changing weight. Bulimics go through episodes of binging and purging, but these people also are obsessed with their weight and strive to stay at a certain range. After a binging period, a bulimic will weigh his or her self and either purge or over exercise to negate the binge episode. Due to the dangers and risks of this behavior, bulimics’ weights tend to seesaw with most of the time leading to eventual weight gain.
3. Isolation from the people around them.
Most people with eating disorders do not want the people around them to know that they are struggling with an eating disorder. The easiest way to hide this is to simply be alone and not interact with other people. If you notice someone you know isolating his or her self, then he or she is definitely experiencing a situation in life. Reach out to this person and try to connect as this is what this person probably needs the most at this time. If you have noticed other odd behaviors typical with an eating disorder in conjunction with unusual isolation, this person may be dealing with eating disorder issues.
4. Low body image.
No matter what eating disorder is present, having a low body image is a given. Bingers are unhappy with their bodies and use the instant gratification of the overindulgence of food to ease this unhappiness. Anorexics consider themselves ugly and overweight, so they tend to restrict their food with the purpose of eventually achieving their ideal body. Bulimics constantly switch from binging, restricting, and purging to stabilize the feelings of their present mindset. All three are characterized by low self-esteem and body image. Eating disorders are extremely harsh on the body physically and emotionally and take a huge amount of willpower to become an advanced disorder. This is due to a certain amount of self-hatred that allows these people to think so low of themselves they are able to purposely cause the destruction of their own bodies.
According to statistics produced by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any known mental disorder. Anorexia alone has a death rate of twenty percent of people who are diagnosed with the illness. If you or someone you know exemplifies these signs, professional help is extremely advisable. These disorders can have lifelong effects and should be mended as fast as possible. Here's our list of eating disorder and food addiction treatment centers. The sooner help is found, the easier the disorder is to treat. These signs are great warnings to establish the possibility of having one of these disorders.