Everyone eats differently and has a different appetite. However, when someone starts to stuff food into their mouth ravenously or avoids foods to unrealistic limits, an eating disorder might be in place. Here are six signs that you are having an eating disorder:
1. Defensive Attitude
A person suffering from an eating disorder will indulge in their eating habits in secrecy. Since the disorder is a coping mechanism for them, they will defend it as well.
If you find that you jump to defend your dietary habits every time someone expresses concern, you may be in trouble. The urge to defend eating patterns could just be a way to express your dissatisfaction, frustration or anxiety about issues that you may be unable to resolve otherwise. Either way you will try to deny any negative notions that come with these habits.
Another recurring symptom is that the person afflicted with an eating disorder might not be able to distinguish the truth from illusion.
What this means is that you may not be able to see how binge eating or intense dieting has influenced your physical image. There is often a distortion of perspective in which critical attitudes concerning food, weight, and body image are created.
Likewise, if you notice an abrupt change in the eating habits of someone else, it is important to ask them how they perceive it. If you notice a disparity in the truth and their image, then it is a significant red flag they are suffering from an eating disorder.
3. Hiding Physical Change
Another sign that you may be suffering from an eating disorder is if you try to hide your appearance.
This can often happen when you start losing or putting on weight. With weight fluctuations occurring, you may not feel comfortable with confrontations.
You may start wearing baggy clothes, long sleeves, and loose oversized items that will hide the change. If appearance becomes hard to bear and you seek refuge behind layers of clothes, you may want to get some help.
4. Relationship With Food
It is an established fact that the relationship with food alters as soon as someone falls prey to an eating disorder.
In this situation, you may feel guilt whenever faced with food. You may start moving food around, taking longer to finish, or even prefer eating by yourself instead of with company.
You may also find yourself turning down invitations to gatherings that involve food such dinners, lunches, birthday parties and other get-togethers.
If you find yourself becoming isolated due to these specific reasons, you need to get some professional help before your eating disorder completely disrupts your social life.
5. Mood Swings
As a person’s eating habits change their mood does too. A lack of nutrition can also change the way a person behaves. One of the first noticeable signs is becoming more irritable about small things and lashing out in bursts of anger. Another is showing indifference to things that may otherwise be of interest to you.
Avoid using the weighing scale incessantly through the week. There are times when your body weight fluctuates naturally not related to weight gain but it might impact your mental mood.
At the same time, when your diet is unbalanced you will also become physically and mentally weak. This can easily lead to more unpredictable mood swings.
6. Unhealthy Food Substitutes
Another pattern you might notice in your eating behavior is that you may start to drink too much water so you don’t feel hungry. While drinking water is not a bad thing in itself, excessive fluid intake may just be an attempt to mask hunger.
Other unhealthy food substitutes such as smoking, drug dependency and eating unhealthy snacks may also become part of your regular eating pattern- all vain attempts to suppress hunger.
Eating disorders can range in nature from excessive bingeing to absolute starvation. And because the scope of eating disorders ranges so vastly, all types of people may be affected by it.
Since eating disorders have psychological triggers it is very important to approach the topic carefully. The first point of treatment is to acknowledge that there is a problem. The admission is never easy but is the first step in the right direction.
There are many ways to treat eating disorders if you or someone you know is going through this dilemma. Some common strategies for treating eating disorders include the following:
- There are individual, family and group therapies which can be really useful. Since eating disorders root from personal insecurities and social influences they are not completely incurable. With proper therapy, most people can get back to a normal and healthy lifestyle.
- Some people find it more difficult to come back to their normal life so medication may be used in such cases. Proper medical surveillance and professional guidance can make recovery possible for most people.
- Another approach is nutritional counseling where a dietician or nutritionist is involved in the process. These professionals assist patients to devise meal plans, set up realistic dietary goals and inform them about the basics of good nutrition and health.
It is also important that you trust a close family member or friend who will provide security and support through your journey towards a healthy diet.