Do you find that the way you eat is taking over your life? Does it control how much time and energy you spend daily? If so, then there’s a good chance that you may be suffering from an eating disorder.
Eating disorders are serious mental health issues that can cause severe physical and emotional distress. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to recognize the signs and common symptoms of an eating disorder because they vary from person to person.
To help give some insight into what these warning signs may look like, here are ten alarming indicators that could mean that you have an eating disorder.
1. You Have Obsessive Thoughts About Food
The first sign to watch out for is an abnormal obsession with food. Such people often have a distorted relationship with their meals and will constantly think and talk about food. It can include excessive planning of meals, constant calorie counting, or feeling guilt and shame when eating certain foods.
According to one study, obsessive thoughts about food are symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder which is a predictor of an eating disorder.
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2. You Avoid Eating in Public
Another warning sign to watch out for is avoidance of eating in public spaces or around other people. Studies prove that people with an eating disorder may feel embarrassed or judged when it comes to eating around other people and so may try their best to isolate themselves from these situations.
As a result, they might refuse to go out for meals with friends or family or even skip social gatherings altogether.
3. You Are Preoccupied with Weight and Body Image
An increased preoccupation with body image is another major sign to be aware of. For example, people with an eating disorder often become fixated on their weight and body shape. As a result, they will constantly check themselves in the mirror.
They may also be excessively weighing themselves and trying to lose weight by any means possible, even if it’s unhealthy. Research shows that people with an eating disorder are more likely to display extreme behaviors like skipping meals, using diet pills, or over-exercising.
A recent study revealed that an alarming number of gym-goers, close to a third, experienced significant symptoms related to body dysmorphia. Furthermore, 70% of those affected displayed indicators of having an eating disorder.
4. You Experience Intense Mood Swings
Intense mood swings are another red flag to watch out for, particularly if they happen around meal times. People with eating disorders tend to be more emotional and display more negative feelings than usual.
It could include feeling anxious, angry, guilty, or depressed when eating certain foods. Studies show that negative emotions can be a major trigger for people with an eating disorder, which is why it’s important to note if these mood swings are happening regularly.
5. You Have an Unusual Eating Pattern
People with an eating disorder will often display an unusual pattern of eating. It could mean eating very little, refusing to eat together, or even binge-eating large amounts of food in one sitting.
Other signs to look out for include eating excessively late at night or only consuming specific types of food. Studies have revealed that those with an eating disorder display far more restrictive and erratic eating patterns than the general population.
6. You Have Low Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem is another common symptom of an eating disorder, as people may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their body image. It is particularly true if they have been teased or bullied in the past.
A recent study found that nearly two-thirds of people with an eating disorder felt ashamed or embarrassed about their body image. Furthermore, low self-esteem can lead to decreased physical activity, as people with an eating disorder may fear being judged or ridiculed by others.
7. You Are Obsessed With Exercise
If you are spending an excessive amount of time exercising, this could be a sign of an underlying eating disorder. People with an eating disorder will often exercise obsessively to control their weight or body image.
It could mean exercising for hours on end, even when they are injured or ill. Studies show that people with an eating disorder are more likely to engage in extreme activities, such as running or lifting weights for long periods.
8. You Are Experiencing Health Problems
An eating disorder can lead to various health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, digestive issues, fatigue, and weak bones. In addition, researchers have found that people with an eating disorder are more likely to experience anemia and missed menstrual periods.
A study involving 921 individuals with eating disorders uncovered that 36.6% of those plagued by anorexia nervosa (AN) and 11.2% battling bulimia nervosa (BN) were also afflicted with anemia.
Other common health issues include dehydration, constipation, low blood pressure, and an irregular heartbeat. It’s important to be aware of these signs and to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing any of them.
9. You Are Withdrawing from Social Activities
People with an eating disorder may start withdrawing from their social activities as they become increasingly concerned about their physical appearance. Studies prove they often feel embarrassed or ashamed about their body image and avoid social events and interactions.
It could mean refusing to eat in front of others, avoiding physical activities, or wearing baggy clothes to hide their body. It’s important to be aware of this behavior, as being socially isolated can harm mental health.
10. You Are Hoarding and Stashing Food
If you find yourself stocking up on unhealthy snacks or stashing food away, this could signify an eating disorder. People with this disease may need to hoard food to control their weight or have something to turn to when feeling anxious or depressed.
So, if you find yourself stockpiling food or hiding it away, this could be a sign of an underlying eating disorder. Speaking with a professional about these behaviors is important, as they can cause serious health issues if left untreated.
If you are struggling from of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, it’s important to speak with a professional as soon as possible. An eating disorder can be a serious health issue and requires the help of a doctor or therapist.
With the right support and treatment, it is possible to manage an eating disorder and get back on track with healthy living. So, take the time to speak with a professional and get your needed help.