What are the Signs of an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are one of the quickest developing and most dangerous mental illnesses in today’s world. With social media, the constant comparison, and an over-sexualized culture, it is impossible to escape body image reminders.
Eating disorders are not genetic. They are developed by cultural comparison, traumatic life events, bullying, and low self-esteem.
If you are starting to feel worse about your body, struggling with your eating, and not being able to control your thoughts and actions about your body and food, you may be developing an eating disorder. There are warning signs to be on the lookout for.
You feel guilty about eating
There is guilt when it comes to eating food. You remind yourself how hard you will have to exercise to get rid of what you are eating. Maybe you start to degrade yourself or feel as though you do not deserve to enjoy your favorite foods.
Usually, this guilt leads to you eating even more food, as eating is one of the number one coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Which then makes you feel guilty because you ate a bunch of food. It is a vicious cycle of shame, hopelessness, and frustration.
Your self-esteem relies on your appearance
Do you find yourself constantly checking yourself out in the mirror? Or let me rephrase, constantly critiquing yourself in the mirror? It is hard to find something about yourself that you like. You always make note of the things you want to change about yourself.
Your mood depends on how you feel about your body that day. Maybe someone has made comments about your body, making you feel like your worth depends on how you look. Eating disorders are tricky and manipulative.
Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
If all of a sudden you notice yourself losing or gaining a lot of weight, it could be a hormonal/medical issue. It could also be a sign of an eating disorder. This type of eating habit falls into the OSFED category (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders). This means that it is a mean symptom of all eating disorders, but cannot be categorized into a single disorder.
You obsess over the foods you eat
Your life revolves around food. Whether it is eating food, weighing food, or avoiding food, it is the center of your life. Many times this is due to control issues. Since you can control the foods you put into your body, it makes you feel like you have some sort of control over your life.
Many people fail to realize this, but eating disorders stem from traumatizing and difficult life events. It is one of the easiest ways to feel like you are taking charge of your life when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Your progress is never enough
It does not matter how often you work out, how healthy you eat, or what you do to feel confident, it will never be enough to be satisfied with who you are. All of your value comes from reaching your goals. Once you hit the goal, it is no longer enough and you have to set another goal to feel good about yourself. It is a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
You look in the mirror and you are still disgusted with what you see. Your view of yourself is morphed from reality. This symptom is very common in people who exercise a lot. Body dysmorphia is what type of eating disorder this is.
Types of eating disorders
Eating disorders are the deadliest of all mental illnesses and one of the most difficult to cure.
Anorexia is one of the most well-known eating disorders there is. This disorder causes you to believe that the best way to deal with losing weight is to not eat at all. Someone with anorexia will try to hide under baggy clothes. Their skin will be pale and you will be able to see bones.
Bulimia is an eating disorder where a person forces themselves to binge on a large amount of food in a short period and then purge.
This is an addictive behavior and a vicious cycle. It allows the person to eat all the food they want, but then once they throw up they no longer have to worry about calories consumed (so they think). It seems like the best of both worlds, but it is not.
Bulimia also leads to many dental problems due to purging. It can rot your teeth, erode your gums, and cause many health issues with your mouth.
Body dysmorphic disorder
This is an eating disorder that works differently than the others. It always goes hand-in-hand with the others, but can sometimes be completely separated and a disorder on its own. Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental illness that causes you to have a flawed image of yourself.
What I mean by this is that you do not see yourself for what you look like. You see yourself for what your brain thinks you look like.
When you dislike yourself or your body, your image of yourself usually stays at the worse place you were ever in. Even if you lost 50 pounds, your brain will still perceive your body as looking 50 pounds heavier.
Binge eating disorder
A binge eating disorder causes you to eat an overwhelming amount of calories in one sitting (sometimes thousands). When you binge eat, it is not like eating dinner. It is more like an out-of-body experience. You feel like you have no control and cannot stop eating.
This leads to shame, guilt, and feelings of disgust with yourself. To cope with these feelings, many people struggling with binge eating turn to more food to cope with the feelings. Do you see how vicious of a cycle this can be?
Eating disorders are a scary, dangerous, and sometimes deadly path to walk down. It is heartbreaking to look in the mirror and realize how much you hate yourself. You do not deserve that, nor does your body. If you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder, talk to a therapist, nutritionist, or seek help from a clinic.
To recap, signs you may be struggling with an eating disorder consist of, but are not limited to:
- Feeling guilty about eating
- Self-esteem relies on appearance
- Quick and dramatic weight loss or weight gain
- Obsessing over the foods you eat
- Never being satisfied with your appearance
Your body has loved you through all of this, don’t you think it is time you loved it back?