Disordered eating conditions such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorders are serious medical conditions that are sometimes difficult to spot in other people. Just about everyone has occasional concerns about their health and their weight, and it’s easy to write off many symptoms of an eating disorder as exactly that. Unfortunately, this often causes many conditions to go unchecked, which can have serious impacts on a person’s health and well-being.
While a disordered eating condition should be diagnosed by a medical professional, you should still be on the lookout for these 7 signs if you suspect that someone close to you has an eating disorder.
1. Their Weight Fluctuates Very Quickly
The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of weight changes and eating disorders is extreme weight loss. For example, a person with anorexia nervosa might lose a lot of weight seemingly in a matter of weeks. Excessive weight loss in a short amount of time is always cause for concern, but so is excessive weight gain in someone with a binge-eating disorder. If you notice any kind of changes in weight over a short period of time in a loved one, encourage them to seek medical treatment. Even if they don’t need treatment for an eating disorder, they may have other medical conditions that need to be addressed.
2. They Obsess Over Food and Dieting
Sticking to a healthy diet and counting calories isn’t always a bad thing for someone who is trying to lose weight, but someone with a disordered eating condition will obsess over it until it affects their daily life. Some examples of this obsession include constant body and weight checks, micro-biting during meals, and avoiding social outings that involve food.
3. They Struggle to Eat In Front of Others
People with disordered eating conditions often feel shame or anxiety about eating, so much so that they are reluctant to eat in front of others. They might eat in private and even binge eat once they’re alone, but getting them to eat meals with family or friends might be a struggle. Keep in mind that anxiety about eating in public could be unrelated to an eating disorder, so look for other signs as well if you notice this behavior.
4. They Are Obviously Unhappy With Their Appearance
Feeling self-conscious about your body and appearance is normal, but those with disordered eating conditions take this to an extreme that interferes with their daily lives. They might wear baggy clothes that hide their figures, weigh themselves excessively, or avoid social interaction for fear of judgment.
5. They May Become Obsessed With Excercise
Keeping active and physically fit is one thing, but someone struggling with disordered eating might be obsessed with exercise, especially strenuous exercise as an “antidote” to eating. They might eat a full meal, but they might also count the calories they consume and make sure to exercise enough to burn it off. Exercise is certainly not a bad thing, but many with eating disorders take it to an unhealthy extreme.
6. They Might Become Obsessed With Diets
Many people with disordered eating conditions become obsessed with fad diets, often taking them to an unhealthy extreme. Weight loss and dieting can be healthy under the direction of a medical professional, but fad diets are all about following trends that aren’t healthy for everyone. If you know someone who is obsessed with dieting and weight loss trends, at least encourage them to see a doctor and find a diet plan that works best for them.
7. They Have Other Physical Symptoms
The most obvious physical symptom of an eating disorder is excessive weight loss, but there are other symptoms to look for. People with eating disorders might complain about stomach pain, feel cold almost all the time, or have a pale and sickly look on their skin. They are not in good health, and their appearance will reflect that.