Unfortunately, many people of all ages deal with some type of eating disorder during their lifetime. They can be bright about by many factors, including the critical words of a parent or significant other, bullying or harassment, mental health disorders, trauma, low self-esteem, and genetics. Eating disorders can be very dangerous and can wreak havoc on the body. They can lead to problems with the heart, bones, digestive system, and many diseases. There is more than one different type of eating disorder and they affect each person differently. Some people may hide their disorder from other people very well. Because of how dangerous they can be, it is important to know how to identify the signs of an eating disorder so that you can seek help for your loved one if necessary.
Signs of an Eating Disorder
- Refusing to eat or making excuses for why they’re not hungry
- Being overly restrictive over what foods they eat and what ingredients are in them
- Isolating themselves from others
- Frequently talking poorly about themselves
- Weighing themselves obsessively
- Working out excessively
- Leaving meals early to go to the bathroom
- Using supplements such as laxatives to speed up weight loss
- Eating in secret
- Hiding food wrappers
- Eating a large meal and then feeling guilty about it
- Tracking every calorie they consume obsessively
- Looking in the mirror every chance they get to look for flaws
Different Types of Eating Disorders
- Anorexia nervosa: A person with anorexia is obsessively concerned about their shape and severely worried about gaining weight. They often have a skewed vision of themselves and think they are overweight when they really aren’t. They will likely go to great lengths to stay thin by eating very little and exercising very heavily. They may take unhealthy measures to lose weight by using laxatives or forcing themselves to throw up every time they eat. They may even reach a point where they are self-starving and reach a dangerously low weight. Anorexia is extremely serious and can be life-threatening if the individual does not get professional treatment.
- Bulimia nervosa: Someone suffering from bulimia will engage in binge eating, during which time they consume a large amount of food over a short period of time. After a binge eating session, they will often feel a sense of guilt and shame. They will then purge, or force themselves to throw up so that their weight is not affected by the food that they ate. They will likely be very obsessed with their weight and will agonize over their appearance. They may also utilize unhealthy methods to lose weight such as laxative use or excessive exercising. Binge eating sessions often occur at night after a day of eating very little.
- Binge-eating disorder: Someone struggling with this disorder will struggle to control how much they eat. They might eat and eat until they are no longer hungry but will not feel as if they can make themselves stop. Afterward, they often feel a great sense of shame. People with this disorder often hide how much they eat or eat when nobody is around to avoid judgment or embarrassment.
How to Help a Friend Struggling with an Eating Disorder
It can be very painful to watch someone you love struggle with something as painful and complicated as an eating disorder. If you know your friend has a problem, you may be hesitant to confront them about it out of fear of how they will respond. You may worry they will become angry or defensive. However, eating disorders can be life-threatening and you confronting them may end up saving their life.
When you approach your friend, make sure you do so in a safe, private environment where other people won’t be able to overhear. Address your concerns with them in a calm and caring manner and explain to them how what they’re doing to themselves makes you feel. Make sure that you don’t use a judgmental tone, talk down to them or make them feel guilty. Instead, let them know how much you care about them and how much you want what’s best for them. Finally, gently encourage them to seek treatment for their disorder. You may even consider presenting them with information regarding a local treatment facility to show how serious about this you really are. Allow your friend to share their thoughts and be sure that they know that you will be there for them to offer support no matter what they decide to do.
Eating disorders affect many Americans at some point during their lifetime. They can be caused by a great variety of factors such as genetics, traumatic events, poor parenting, unhealthy relationships, and low self-esteem. Eating disorders present themselves differently from person to person and can often be well concealed. Some of the most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. It is important to be able to recognize the signs of these disorders so that you can provide support for a loved one if they need it. If you have a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to confront them about it and encourage them to seek help, even if it is uncomfortable to do so. Offer them your complete support and show them no judgment. At Achieve Concierge we want to help you live your best life mentally and physically. Call (619) 393-5871 today to learn more.