Eating Disorders - What They Are And What To Look Out For
Severe disturbances are at the heart of eating disorders - living on rigid diets, secretly binge eating, vomiting after eating, and meticulously tracking calories. At face value, eating disorders may seem like unhealthy dietary habits.
But in reality, they are self-destructive coping methods to deal with uncomfortable and painful emotional stressors. They are synonymous with distorted, highly critical weight, food, and body image beliefs. Individuals suffering from an eating disorder lose the ability to view themselves objectively over time.
Variations Of Eating Disorders
- Anorexia: This eating disorder occurs when people starve themselves out of a crippling fear of becoming overweight. These individuals will never believe they are thin enough, even to the point of being emaciated. Along with calorie restriction, anorexic people may use exercise, diet supplements, or purging to monitor their weight.
- Bulimia: Bulimia presents itself as a destructive pattern of bingeing and purging. Right after an uncontrollable binge eating episode, bulimic people purge their bodies of excess calories. They combat weight gain by vomiting, exercising excessively, fasting, or taking laxatives.
- Binge Eating Disorder: Binge Eating Disorder compels people to habitually overeat, consuming thousands of calories in a short amount of time as fast as possible. Feelings of guilt and shame often accompany these secret binges, yet the individual feels powerless to control their behavior even while uncomfortably full.
Eating Disorder Warning Signs
Food Restricting Or Dieting
- Avoiding meals or situations involving meals with excuses (they're already full, lack an appetite, or have nausea)
- Only consuming tiny portions of certain low-calorie foods and frequently eliminating entire food categories such as carbohydrates and dietary fats
- Obsessive about monitoring calories, reading food labels, and portion weighing
- A habit of restrictive dietary behaviors such as consuming foods in a particular order, rearranging food on a plate, cutting or chewing food excessively
- Consuming diet supplements, prescription stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin, on in extreme cases, illegal amphetamine street drugs (speed, crystal meth, etc.)
- Unusual disappearance of substantial amounts of food in a short time
- Several empty food packages and wrappers, commonly concealed in the bottom of a trash can
- Hiding away a stash of high-calorie foods like fast food and sweets
- Reclusiveness and secrecy; may appear to have a regular diet around company, then binge privately or late at night without the risk of discovery
- Leaving immediately after a meal or making constant bathroom trips
- Running bathroom water after eating to mask the sound of purging
- Using an unusually high amount of breath mints, mouthwash, or body spray to mask the odor of vomit
- Using diuretics, laxatives, or enemas
- Fasting periods or habitual, extreme exercising, especially after eating
- Chronic sore throats, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation
- Teeth discoloration
Distorted Body Image
- Excessive preoccupation with body image or weight (frequent weigh-ins, long periods of inspecting and criticizing their body in front of a mirror)
- Alarming weight loss, sudden weight gain, or regular weight fluctuations
- Constant complaints about feeling fat, or a fear of gaining weight
- Hiding their weight under baggy clothes, or multiple layers of clothes