How to Identify if I have an eating disorder?
It can be a challenge to identify that you have an eating disorder, particularly if your weight is within the normal range. The question now is, how can someone identify signs of an eating disorder. Read on to find out more.
Some eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are characterized by periods of underweight and overweight, respectively.
But other types of eating disorders may not lead to noticeable weight changes or may be hidden behind other explanations for the weight changes.
However, there are some signs you can look for to help you identify whether your relationship with food is healthy or maybe developing into an eating disorder.
- 1 What are Eating Disorders?
- 2 Types of Eating Disorder
- 3 Causes of Eating Disorder
- 4 Why does my child have an eating disorder?
- 5 Why are eating disorders dangerous?
- 6 How to identify warning signs of eating disorder
What are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are characterized by severe and long-term changes in eating patterns, as well as troubling thoughts and emotions. They can be life-threatening illnesses that cause physical, psychological, and social problems.
Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant limited food intake disorder, other specified feeding and eating disorder, pica, and rumination disorder.
Up to 5% of the population suffers from eating problems, which are most common throughout adolescence and early adulthood. Several of them are more common in women, particularly anorexia nervosa, but they can also affect males at any age.
Food, weight, or shape obsessions, as well as anxiety overeating or the consequences of eating certain foods, are typically associated with eating disorders.
Eating disorders are characterized by restrictive eating or avoidance of specific foods, binge eating, purging by vomiting or laxative overuse, and compulsive exercise. These habits can become compelled to the point of addiction.
Eating disorders frequently co-occur with other psychiatric diseases, the most prevalent of which are mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and issues with alcohol and drugs.
Eating disorders may afflict persons who have no family history of the condition. One can address these difficulties during therapy. Hunger or purging may cause cardiac, gastrointestinal, and other potentially deadly problems.
Treatment anxiety, denial of eating or weight problem, and anxiety over changing eating patterns are all common. Those suffering from eating disorders, can re-establish healthy eating habits and regain emotional and psychological well-being with the right medical help.
Types of Eating Disorder
1. Anorexia Nervosa
Weight loss, difficulties maintaining a healthy body weight for one’s height, age, and stature, and, in many cases, a distorted body image are all symptoms of anorexia nervosa.
Anorexics usually restrict their calorie intake and the things they eat. Binge eating, obsessive exercise, and purging via vomiting and laxatives are all symptoms of the condition.
Common Signs & Symptoms
- Being very underweight in comparison to persons of comparable age and height.
- Severe dietary restrictions
- Despite being underweight, a great dread of gaining weight or persistent behaviours to avoid gaining weight.
- An insatiable need to be skinny and an unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight.
- Bodyweight or perceived body shape has a significant impact on self-esteem.
- A mistaken perception of one’s body, including denial of being very underweight.
2. Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
A binge eating disorder is distinguished by recurrent binge-eating episodes, loss of control while eating, and subsequent feelings of humiliation, dissatisfaction, or guilt.
In the United States, it is the most common eating disorder. BED is a relatively recent addition to the list of recognized eating disorders in the DSM-5. Binge eating disorder was formerly classified as a subtype of EDNOS until 2013.
Because some insurance companies would not pay for eating disorder treatment without a DSM diagnosis, the change is significant.
Common Signs & Symptoms:
- Eating great amounts of food rapidly, in secret, and until uncomfortably full.
- During binge eating episodes, you may feel out of control.
- Distressing feelings of embarrassment, disgust, or guilt while contemplating binge eating.
- No purging behaviours, such as calorie restriction, vomiting, extreme exercise, or the use of laxatives or diuretics.
3. Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
However, although Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is most prevalent throughout childhood and adolescence, it is not unusual for it to linger into adulthood as well.
When you have this illness, you may have difficulty with your eating habits. In many cases, this is due to a lack of appetite or an allergy to specific scents, textures, colours, temperatures, or flavours.
Common Signs & Symptoms:
- Significant weight reduction.
- A limited selection of preferred foods narrows over time.
- Anxiety about choking or vomiting.
- There are no issues with your body image or concern about gaining weight.
4. Rumination Disorder
The term “rumination disorder” refers to the habitual regurgitation of meals. Regurgitated food might be eaten, swallowed, or spat out. When you regurgitate your food while suffering from this sickness, you normally do not look frightened, upset, or disgusted.
Pica is a sort of eating problem in which people ingest non-food items. Patients that suffer from Pica crave non-food items including soil, cornstarch, ice, paper, soap, chalk, hair, fabric, wool, pebbles, laundry detergent, or mud.
Furthermore, Pica can affect adults, children, and teenagers alike. The most prevalent sufferers of this ailment are children, pregnant women, and those with mental illnesses.
Food poisoning, infections, stomach injuries, and nutritional deficiencies may be more common among Pica sufferers. Depending on the materials consumed, pica can be fatal.
6. Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED)
UFED produces symptoms of significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other key areas of function, but does not meet the full criteria for any food and eating disorders diagnostic class.
When a doctor chooses not to explain why the criteria for a specific feeding and eating disorder have not been met, or when there is insufficient information to make a more specific diagnosis, the nonspecific feeding and eating disorder category is utilized.
Causes of Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are caused by several unknown reasons. Bipolar disorder, like other mental illnesses, can be caused by several factors, including:
Some people may be predisposed to eating disorders due to a genetic predisposition. Biological factors, such as alterations in brain chemistry, can contribute to eating problems.
Psychological and emotional well-being
People with eating disorders may suffer from psychological and emotional issues, which can exacerbate the disease. Low self-esteem, perfectionism, impulsive behaviour, and strained relationships are all possibilities.
Why does my child have an eating disorder?
A variety of factors can influence a child’s likelihood of having an eating disorder. Here are just a few of them:
- Taking part in activities that stress thinness, such as dancing or athletics.
- They are under a lot of pressure from the media to be thin.
- Life’s tense situations
- Being diagnosed with a mental illness, such as sadness or anxiety
- School-related pressures
- Domestic violence.
Why are eating disorders dangerous?
Eating disorders are dangerous since they can hurt health. If you’ve had an eating disorder for a long period, you’re more likely to see long-term effects on your entire body.
The most evident and immediate hazards associated with eating problems include heart disease and osteoporosis. Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are all possible psychological impacts of eating disorders.
Eating disorders can cause withdrawal from family, friends, the workplace, and other loved ones. In certain cases, they may even result in death.
How to identify warning signs of eating disorder
To identify warning signs of eating disorder, you need to pay attention to the following;
1. A change in eating habits
A change in your eating habits is one of the first indicators of an eating problem. You are likely to see more structure in your eating habits.
You may, for example, only eat at specific times of the day, use specific dishes and silverware, and insist on consuming meals in a specific order. Before you consume anything, they may start moving it around your plate a lot or breaking it up into little bits or certain shapes.
You might notice that you use a lot more condiments (like sauces) or seasonings (like salt and pepper) on your cuisine than you normally do. During mealtimes, you may appear fidgety and anxious.
You may want to consume the same dishes over and over. You may decide to start a new diet on the spur of the moment, such as becoming vegetarian.
2. Becoming very interested in food
Another symptom of an eating disorder is a sudden increase in food interest. You may note that you have a broad understanding of nutrition and the calorie content of various foods that appears to have appeared out of nowhere.
You may also begin downloading and reading recipes or watching cooking shows on television, while previously having no interest in such things.
3. Social withdrawal
When you no longer want to be with other people, it could be a sign of an eating disorder. You may notice that you aren’t visiting their friends or participating in activities that you once enjoyed. This could indicate depression or anxiety, but it could also indicate an eating disorder.
4. Changes in mood
While it’s natural for our moods to fluctuate throughout the day, if you observe that these changes are more prominent or excessive, it could be an indication of an eating disorder.
You may become worried, irritated, and tearful, especially around mealtimes or in the lead-up to eating.