Eating disorders affect a large number of men, women and children in the world, many of whom either do not realize they have a problem or are unwilling to admit it to others. The amount of effort that many people put into hiding their eating disorders is astounding. But there are many warning signs that may indicate that they have an eating disorder.
Obsession with Weight Loss/Personal Weight
Most people occasionally experience moments of frustration when it comes to their body image. But for those with eating disorders, these moments turn into days and weeks. They become constantly present in people’s lives–much like an obsession. These people may constantly take note of their weight or size, vocalizing their insecurities. Counting calories for each meal and restricting food intake, especially if they are average size or smaller, may be tell tale signs of an eating disorder.
Some persons afflicted with eating disorders will sometimes make themselves purge their food after eating. Others will go days without food, starve their bodies and eat excessively large amounts of food all at once. Going to the bathroom consistently after each meal or refusing to eat at meals–or eating very little–may be proof of an eating disorder.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
When eating habits are drastically changed by eating too much or too little, the body doesn’t get the necessary nutrients, fats, vitamins, etc. it needs to function correctly each day. It panics. Starting with good reserves, such as vitamins and nutrients stored in muscles and organs, it tries to feed itself in order to remain alive. Because it is working overtime trying to compensate for missing nutrients, its chemical balance becomes unstable, causing unbalanced sleep patterns, light sleep with many disturbances to sleep cycles and insomnia. The inability to focus, forgetfulness and infrequent or sporadic menstrual cycles and bowel movements are often side effects of sleep deprivation or unbalanced sleep cycles.
Stashing diet pills or other diet supplements in desk drawers or closets may be telling of an eating disorder. Other hiding places may be in sock and dresser drawers, bathroom cabinets, linen closets, in different pill cases (i.e. aspirin bottles) or in bedding.
Surrounded by Material on Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are a highly publicized and controversial topic. As such, there is unlimited information about it on television, in magazines and on the Internet. The Internet offers a plethora of sites dedicated to discussing or advertising eating disorders and weight loss. This is a very accessible, private and secure way to learn about eating disorders without fear of confrontation or embarrassment. Many times, persons with eating disorders will surround themselves with magazines and scholarly books on weight loss or will watch weight-loss or anorexia/bulimia focused shows on TV.
The signs for eating disorders are complicated and often invisible to those unaffected. Many times, afflicted persons do not even recognize that they have a problem or go to extreme lengths to hide it. The signs listed above are not all inclusive but are strongly indicative of an eating disorder.