In this interview, I discuss how to recognize the signs of disordered eating. Many may overlook it, but disordered eating is a massive problem in the United States. Almost 30 million Americans, which is about 9% of the population, will admit they’ve had an eating disorder in their lifetime. These disorders are distressing and fatal, accounting for over 10,000 deaths a year in the United States.
So, what are some of the signs of disordered eating?
The primary factor isn’t about what or how much you’re eating but how it’s making you feel. If you feel controlled by food or it’s affecting your happiness and daily life, that’s a sign.
Common symptoms can be as obvious as restricting calorie intake (as seen in anorexia) or as subtle as chewing ice. Other signs include binging and purging and binging alone. All these behaviors cause tremendous pain.
Common signs of disordered eating include:
- Extreme dieting or restrictive eating
- Preoccupation with food, body size, and weight
- Exercising excessively or feeling guilty when unable to exercise
- Binge eating, or eating large amounts of food in a short period
- Using laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills without medical supervision
- Eating in secret or displaying feelings of guilt after eating
Common Types of Disordered Eating
There are many variations of disordered eating, but some patterns are more common than others.
- Orthorexia: This type of disordered eating is characterized by an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.
- Night Eating Syndrome: Individuals with this syndrome eat excessively, usually after dinner, and have difficulty sleeping.
- Compulsive Overeating involves uncontrollable eating or binging episodes, but unlike bulimia, it’s not followed by compensatory behaviors like vomiting or excessive exercise.
Effects of Disordered Eating
Disordered eating can have severe health consequences, affecting almost every part of the body. These range from heart and digestive system issues to weakening of the bones and teeth and even psychological concerns like depression and anxiety.
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Steps Toward Recovery
If you or someone you know is showing signs of disordered eating, it’s crucial to seek help. Here are some steps we recommend:
- Acknowledge the Problem: The first step is recognizing and admitting that the relationship with food has become unhealthy.
- Reach Out for Support: Talk to someone you trust about your concerns.
- Seek Professional Help: Reach out to healthcare professionals who can provide guidance and treatment.
Professional Help and Support
We believe in the value of seeking professional help for disordered eating. Trained mental health professionals can provide the necessary guidance and treatment for overcoming these issues. Additionally, support groups can be a safe space to share experiences and gain understanding from others facing similar challenges.
Eating disorders are complex conditions, but recovery is achievable. Understanding the signs of disordered eating and seeking help are the first steps toward a healthier life.
Let’s remember; it’s not about achieving a perfect diet or body—it’s about developing a healthy, balanced relationship with food, exercise, and body image.