It can be difficult to accept the harsh reality of someone you know having an eating disorder, whether that be a friend, relative, or the worst possible scenario, your own child. However, the earlier that an eating disorder is detected, the sooner the person suffering can get the help they need and start their journey to recovery. Therefore, it is highly important that you are aware of the most common warning signs of an eating disorder. It is worth noting that each individual case is unique, and someone may display all or none of the below indicators.
However, as a guide, the below signs could suggest that someone has, or is developing, an eating disorder.
1. Sudden Weight Loss or Gain
Any noticeable fluctuations in weight, either losing or gaining, could indicate an eating disorder.
2. Dental Problems
Eating disorders can have a detrimental effect on the teeth, especially bulimia, so any signs of enamel erosion, a sudden increase in cavities or tooth sensitivity could be indicators.
3. Stomach Complaints
Cramps, constipation, acid reflux, or any other unexplained gastrointestinal complaint.
4. Change in Appearance
As well as a change in weight, someone suffering from an eating disorder may have dry skin and hair, brittle nails, yellow skin, fine hairs appearing on the body, swollen feet and/or cold, mottled hands. They may also dress in several layers of clothing to hide weight loss and keep warm.
5. Obsessive Exercising
This is normally associated with anorexia nervosa and manifests itself in the person obsessively maintaining a rigid and excessive daily exercise routine.
6. Signs of Purging Behavior
Sufferers of bulimia may show signs of purging, such as frequent trips to the bathroom after eating, smelling like vomit and/or using excessive laxatives or diuretics.
Other Physical Signs:
- Menstrual irregularities
- Poor concentration levels
- Low thyroid
- Low potassium levels
- Low white and red blood cell counts
- Feelings of dizziness
- Little or no sex drive
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping excessively
- Feeling cold
- Muscle weakness
- Weak immune system
If you or someone you know is showing the above signs, and you are concerned that they may be suffering from an eating disorder, you need to seek professional help. Eden Treatment provides a safe and secure environment for those suffering from an eating disorder and has a team of trained professionals who offer a variety of therapy methods to help you or your loved one on the road to recovery.
Emotional & Behavioral Signs
7. Preoccupation with Weight
A sudden interest, bordering on an obsession, with counting calories, weighing food, measuring grams of fat, weighing oneself and any other form of dieting.
8. Changing Eating Habits
Refusing to eat around others, refusing to eat certain food groups, being secretive about eating, skipping meals, excessive chewing and/or not allowing certain foods to touch on the plate.
9. Changing Behavior
Withdrawing from usual daily life, not wanting to see friends or carry out routine activities. Extreme mood swings and constant checking of appearance in the mirror, often with perceived flaws relating to weight.
10. Distorted Body Image
Eating disorder sufferers may constantly make comments about looking or feeling fat, even when they are severely underweight. They may become fixated on a certain body part and strive to look like a particular ‘skinny’ model or celebrity.