The cruel irony of living with an eating disorder is that it doesn’t actually involve much eating. The reality is that the deeper issue behind an eating disorder has nothing to do with food. These types of disorders stem from complicated mental health conditions.

Research shows that eating disorders are the most common chronic illness in female adolescents today. More than 30 million people currently live with an eating disorder in the United States, alone. But despite its prevalence, eating disorders are very rarely talked about.

Here are the signs of an eating disorder that everyone should know.

Never Ignore These Signs of an Eating Disorder

eating disorder

First of all, let’s get to the bottom of what an eating disorder is. As mentioned, they’re often caused by physiological problems and trauma. Eating disorders are far more complicated than a simple dislike for certain foods.

They’re also characterized by obsessive behaviors and habits. There’s a misconception that people with eating disorders ”just need to eat” to get better. But it’s far more complex than that. In order to overcome an eating disorder, an individual must understand and work through their physiological trauma/issues, first. If it’s serious enough, they might need help from an eating disorder treatment center.

An eating disorder can affect anyone, at any age. However, they are most common in adolescents, females, and non-conforming genders. Here are some of the top symptoms to look out for:

1. Obvious Weight Changes

While not all eating disorders look like anorexia nervosa, there is a common theme and that’s weight fluctuations. A person may look slimmer or thinner one month, and fuller the next. Or, their weight could drop slowly, but they’re very good at hiding it.

Whatever the case, if a friend or loved one appears to constantly yo-yo with their weight, and they’re very touchy about the subject, this is a warning sign to keep in mind.

2. An Obsession With Body Image

While it’s healthy to have an awareness of what you look like, an obsessive preoccupation with your body image is not. If you notice that a friend or loved one can’t stop thinking or talking about how they look, what they wear, or what they eat, this is another sign.

They might also have a very negative or warped perception of what they look like that’s far removed from reality.

an eating disorder

3. Disordered/Unusual Eating Patterns

If a friend or loved one is very conscious of what they eat this doesn’t always point to an eating disorder. However, some unusual eating behaviors do.

For example, if they suddenly stop eating around other people, reject certain foods they used to enjoy, or obsessively count calories and look at nutritional content, this is cause for concern.

If they insist on bringing their own food to events or develop unusual eating rituals like chewing for extended periods of time, these are classic warning signs of an eating disorder.

5. A Preoccupation With Exercise

Yes, regular exercise is super important for your general health. But when a person’s commitment to exercising starts to border on obsessive, you might want to take note of what’s going on in their life.

A person with an eating disorder might spend extended amounts of time in the gym or exercising and become fixated on how many calories they’ve burned. Not only this, but exercise becomes ritualistic to them and they might feel distraught if their routine is compromised.

6. Major Mood Swings

Major Mood Swings

If you’ve ever experienced ”hanger” before then you’re well aware of how a lack of food can impact your mood. When you have an eating disorder a person is generally quite irritable, anxious, and may even appear depressed. And the deeper a person falls into their disorder, the greater these mood fluctuations become.

Take Your Health Into Your Own Hands

These are some of the most typical signs of an eating disorder. While one symptom alone does not necessarily point to an issue, you want to take note if a loved one displays more than one of these symptoms.

Looking to take control of your health? Explore the rest of this website for tons of helpful articles and information!

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