Many people think that eating disorders are problems that only affect teenage girls. In reality, eating disorders can affect people of any age, gender, or background. In the U.S., more than 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder. This means that eating disorders are pretty common, yet they often go undiagnosed or untreated. This is because many people don’t know what to look for when it comes to eating disorders.
Some behaviors are more commonly associated with eating disorders, such as severe dieting, preoccupation with food or weight, and purging after meals. Others are more subtle, and you might not realize that they’re warning signs of an eating disorder.
Lesser Common Behaviors of Patients With Eating Disorders
There are a lot of different behaviors that can be associated with an eating disorder. Some of these behaviors might seem harmless, but they can actually be signs that someone is struggling with an eating disorder. Here are some behaviors that you might not know are common to people with eating disorders:
Counting Calories Obsessively
Do you or someone you know have this tendency t count every calorie that goes into their body? For some people, this is just a way to be mindful of their health and fitness. But for people with disordered eating, this behavior can be obsessive and dangerous. It often goes hand-in-hand with other obsessive behaviors, such as frequently checking the scale, excessive exercise, and restrictive dieting.
Exercise is a way to relieve stress and stay healthy. However, exercise can become a compulsion for people suffering from eating disorders. This means they feel like they have to exercise even if they’re tired or don’t want to. Exercise can be a healthy part of someone’s life, but when it starts to take over, it can be a sign of an eating disorder.
Do you know someone who is always on a diet? Or who only eats certain “safe“ foods? Food restriction can be a way to control one’s weight and body. This behavior often starts with dieting but can spiral out of control and lead to an eating disorder.
Some people would often go to great lengths to hide their symptoms from family and friends. They may lie about what they eat, make excuses not to eat, or wear baggy clothes to cover up their weight loss. This behavior can be a way to avoid judgment or criticism, but it can also make it harder for people to get the help they need.
Constantly Talking About Food or Weight
For people with eating disorders, food and weight can become obsessions. They may talk about food all the time, or they may be constantly thinking about their weight. This behavior can be a way to cope with anxiety or low self-esteem. It can also be a way to avoid talking about other problems in their life.
Those with eating disorders may withdraw from their friends and family members to focus on their symptoms. They may also avoid social situations where food will be present, such as parties or holidays. This behavior can be a way to avoid triggering their eating disorder. Still, it can also make them feel more isolated and alone.
Getting Professional Help
Eating disorders are more common than most people realize. Suppose you notice any of the above symptoms in yourself or someone you know. In that case, it’s critical to seek help from a qualified professional immediately. Even those suffering from eating disorders can recover and lead healthy lives with treatment.
The kind of treatment will depend on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. But generally, treatment for eating disorders often includes a combination of therapy, medical care, and nutritional counseling. If you think you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
For example, you suspect that your loved one has Bulimia. Consider doing research and looking for a nearby facility specializing in bulimia patients. Even if your love is reluctant to go for a checkup, consider online treatment for binge eating disorder. Such a treatment option is a perfect way to get your loved ones the necessary help they need without stepping outside the comfort of their own homes.
If your loved one is in denial and claims they don’t have a problem, try contacting a professional for help to approach the subject. A therapist could guide you on how to best broach the topic in a way that won’t cause further conflict or damage your relationship.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can majorly impact a person’s health and well-being. While some symptoms are more common than others, many behaviors that people with eating disorders might not show.
If you think you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Many resources are available to get people the treatment they need to recover and lead healthy lives.