|Posted on January 16, 2018 at 9:20 PM|
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders which is why early detection and intervention is key to helping people recover and live normal lives. Here are a few warning signs that someone you care about may have an eating disorder:
1.) They tell you they're struggling with food. It is assumed that someone who has an eating disorder must be really thin and / or female. This couldn't be further from the truth. Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, gender, race, and ethnicities. If someone opens up with you that they are struggling with eating, take it seriously and encourage them to seek help.
2.) They seem to have a rigid eating or exercise program. Eating healthy is one thing, but a pattern of rigidity around only eating "safe" foods (i.e., low calorie or low fat) or meticuously monitoring their caloric intake could be a red flag. They may also deny being hungry in spite of food consumption or become emotionally distressed if forced to stray from their eating plan. Sometimes there are also abnormal rituals involving food which would also be a red flag.
3.) You've noticed they are socially isolating or avoiding social situations, especially ones that involve food. They may avoid people in order to work out or time their appearance at a social gathering to avoid food exposure. They may attempt to hide their eating by eating in secret. You may find food wrappers or notice them wearing extra layers of clothes to cover up any weight loss.
4.) You notice that someone appears to be "obsessed" with their weight and size. Conversations seem to center around dieting, losing X number of pounds, or how "bad" they were and now have to make up for it. Distress about body shape or size may also be an indication that someone could be suffering with an eating disorder.
5.) You notice that someone makes frequent trips to the bathroom after eating. This could be a sign that someone is struggling with an eating disorder, possibly bulimia. Bulimia is an eating disorder that typically involves eating an extremely large amount of food in a short period of time, followed by an atempt to get rid of the calories either by vomiting, exercsing, or laxative use. Some people will also eat what's considered a normal amount of food, but will attempt to get rid of it afterwards. Regardless of the amount of food consumed, a pattern of regular bathroom visits following eating could indicate that a person is suffering with an eating disorder.
Sometimes it takes a family member or close friend to recognize an eating disorder and put it into words that something is wrong for someone to acknowledge there's a problem. Support from family and friends is crucial throughout the reovery process. Show love and concern by demonstrating compassion and acceptance, while at the same time encouraging them to seek help from trained professionals. It often takes a team of specialists to work with these disorders successfully.
If somone you care about seems to be struggling with an eating disorder or body image issue, speak up! It could save the person from years of struggling. Early detection and intervention can greatly improve the chances of a full recovery.
Listed below are links to various organizations who support the education, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders. Pathways to Peace is also committed to helping individuals and families through this journey...