What Is an Eating Disorder?
An eating disorder is a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. This eating pattern can change behaviors, thinking, and mood and negatively impacts relationships and physical health.
The popular misconception is that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice. But they are severe and often fatal mental illnesses associated with people’s behaviors, thoughts, and emotions around eating. The most common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
Physical Signs of an Eating Disorder
- – Chapped lips and gray skin
- – Fainting spells from malnutrition and dehydration
- – Hair loss
- – Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
- – Disrupted sleep patterns
- – Musculoskeletal injuries and pain
- – Dental erosions from purging
- – Chronic constipation and reflux
- – Low blood pressure and pulse
- – Prone to upper respiratory infections
- – Low energy
Whatever the eating disorder, these signs are harmful and can result in significant functional impairment.
7 Eating Disorder Warning Signs
Behaviors can vary from person to person, but we’ve identified some common warning signs to watch out for, including:
#1 Alterations in Weight
Suppose the person weighs less than 85 percent of their ideal body weight and has other characteristics of an eating disorder. In that case, they can be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. People with eating disorders can still be close to their ideal body weight or slightly above, especially those diagnosed with bulimia nervosa.
#2 Preoccupation With Body Image
Someone who has a distorted body image and spends a significant amount of time looking in the mirror, making comments about their physical appearance, and insists that they are fat. That behavior alone doesn’t necessarily mean an eating disorder. Still, suppose they become preoccupied with comparing themselves to celebrities and models or wear baggy clothing to hide their shape. In that case, it can be cause for concern.
#3 Disruptions in Eating Behaviors
Be on the lookout for when a person:
- – Stops eating with the family
- – Dislikes previously enjoyed foods
- – Drinks water and caffeine excessively
- – Restricts food or eats noticeably smaller portions
- – Binging and purging
- – Chews for long periods before swallowing
- – Cut food into small portions
- – Chases food around on the plate
- – Secretly disposes of food
- – Frequently weighs themself
- – Lies about food intake, claiming to have already eaten
#4 Preoccupation With Nutritional Content
When someone obsessively classifies foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, and constantly searches out organic, low-fat diet foods can be alarming. Frequently visiting websites focused on nutrition or suddenly declaring they are vegetarian or vegan, in addition to other behaviors, can be a sign they need help.
#5 Changes in Exercise Patterns
People with anorexia or other common eating disorders sometimes become preoccupied with physical fitness and spend hours exercising ritualistically. Sometimes they talk excessively about the number of calories they’ve burned or get upset if their exercise routine is disrupted.
#6 Mood Fluctuations
Eating disorders can lead to signs of irritability, depression, and anxiety. It can even cause them to stop socializing and lose interest in previously enjoyed activities.
#7 Use of Laxatives, Diuretics, or Diet Pills
When people risk their health to achieve an unhealthy standard, resorting to laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills can signify they need help.
The good news is that those struggling with eating or their body image are not fated to develop a full-blown eating disorder. Catching signs and early treatment can make all the difference.
Visit Abundant Family Practice | Eating Disorder Treatment in Logan, Utah
The longer an eating disorder, the more difficult it is to treat and the higher rate of relapse and physical and mental consequences. Call Abundant Family Practice and schedule an appointment today.