20 Eating Disorder Symptoms to be Aware Of
In the modern world, there is an emphasis on perfection. It is on television, on the internet, in magazines, and even on giant billboards. Micro-thin bodies and perfection are the cornerstones of advertising lately. With this constant bombardment of “perfect bodies,” it is easy to understand where a variety of eating disorders come from. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders affect men and women although it is more prevalent in women. It is also important to recognize eating disorder symptoms. These symptoms vary depending on the disorder.
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Most of the eating disorders have symptoms in common. These common symptoms include:
- Obsession over weight – They are obsessed by weight, continually worrying about gaining or losing weight. They may even weigh themselves multiple times per day.
- Obsession over eating – They count calories continually and worry about every time they eat anything at all. This includes extreme focus on eating healthy foods..
- Low self-esteem and body image – They are not comfortable in their own skins. Most people with an eating disorder look at themselves as ugly, unattractive, or fat no matter what their actual body looks like.
- Wearing baggy clothes to hide body shape
- Complaining of being overweight or out of shape despite evidence to the contrary.
- Denial, masking, or lying about weight – A person with an eating disorder will often deny or explain away their eating issues. They might be aware of the issue or disorder and know that they have one but still deny it.
- Binge eating and purging – It is common for a person with an eating disorder to eat normally or overeat and then vomit after the meal. They expel their food before it digests so the calories they consumed do not affect them.
- Bad breath or using excessive amounts of things to control bad breath – People with eating disorders usually have bad breath due to vomiting or malnutrition. They use mints, gum, or mouthwash to hide or cover this.
Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where calories are extremely limited and exercise is excessive. Several symptoms to look for are specific to anorexia. The symptoms of it include:
- Abnormally low overall body weight – with anorexia a person’s bodyweight is well below normal weight for their height. Bones may show clearly under the individual’s skin.
- Fear of gaining weight – An anorexic may be terrified of gaining weight. This is a psychological aspect of anorexia. The fear is very real and can spark panic attacks and other behaviors when anyone mentions weight gain.
- Distorted body image – The anorexic might think, say, or otherwise indicate that they are fat even when their weight is too low. They deny that they are thin and may actually see fat where there is none.
- Over use of diet aids and other medications – They might use laxatives, diet pills, or other stimulants beyond the recommended dosages. They may even turn to illicit or illegal drugs such as methamphetamine to control their weight.
- Fatigue – Since they are consuming almost no calories, most anorexics are tired most of the time. What they eat cannot sustain their bodies, so they may suffer from excessive fatigue, complain about being tired all the time, or refuse any activity that is not working out.
- Lack of menstruation – Many female anorexics lose menstruation due to malnutrition and stress on the body. This is a condition called amenorrhea.
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Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia is another eating disorder but instead of being excessively thin, they have a more normal weight. Some of the characteristics of bulimia are:
- Overeating and then purging – The binge and purge cycle is a very destructive one that is ruled by guilt. Evidence of binge eating and purging are:
- large amounts of food disappearing without cause,
- excessive empty food wrappers and containers,
- trips to the bathroom immediately following meals,
- sounds and smells of vomiting, and
- empty packages of laxatives or diuretics.
- Skipping meals to avoid eating in front of people – A bulimic will make excuses to not eat in front of people. They often serve instead of eating or busy themselves elsewhere during meal times.
- Constant dieting – A bulimic is frequently on a diet or some form of diet plan. They often buy into quick weight loss plans or crash dieting.
- Binge eating without purging – This is eating excessive amounts at once. Someone who is bulimic binge eats without the added measures for weight control. Guilt and depression usually follow this episode.
- Dental problems – People who vomit excessively often have dental issues due to the amount of acid moving through their mouth regularly.
- Gastrointestinal disorders – This is due to excessive purging. The stomach acid tears into the lining of the esophagus. Purging also creates stress on the rest of the digestive system.
When to Seek Help
According to the Mayo Clinic, an eating disorder is a condition where eating behaviors that negatively affect health, emotions, and ability to function normally. When eating, dieting, or exercising is a problem, it is time to seek help or inquire about the possibility of an eating disorder. Eating disorders are treatable and with time and effort, the damage done is correctable. If you or someone you know has any of these eating disorder symptoms, it might be time to seek help. Call 800-598-5053 (Who Answers?) toll free for help finding treatment.