Eating Disorder Warning Signs

Eating Disorder Warning Signs

Eating disorders are severe, yet treatable illnesses that affect tens of millions of Americans over the course of their lifetimes. There are various myths surrounding eating disorders, however, it is important to note that eating disorders can affect individuals of all ages, races, and genders. Furthermore, eating disorders do not have one singular origin, rather, it is a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors that may increase an individual’s risk of developing one. While eating disorders can have severe mental and physical side effects, they are treatable. And one’s treatment plan will depend on his or her individual situation. In this blog post, we will take a look at eating disorder warning signs. 

Behavioral and Emotional Signs of an Eating Disorder

The National Eating Disorders Association says that signs of an eating disorder could include the following behavioral and emotional manifestations:

  • Great concern with one’s body shape and size
  • Frequent checks in the mirror for supposed flaws in their appearance
  • Withdrawal from usual activities 
  • Withdrawal from friends
  • Appearing uncomfortable eating around other people
  • Recurrent dieting
  • Skipping meals
  • Excessive chewing
  • Behaviors and attitudes that point towards dieting, weight loss, and control of food becoming major concerns for an individual
  • The refusal to eat specific foods, which can progress to restrictions against entire food groups (i.e. no carbohydrates)
  • Not allowing certain foods to touch
  • Taking small portions of food at regular meals
  • A preoccupation with calories, food, weight, fat grams, carbohydrates, and dieting
  • Food rituals (only eating a particular food group or food)
  • Extreme mood swings

Physical Signs of an Eating Disorder

The National Eating Disorders Association also lists various physical signs that could point to the presence of an eating disorder:

  • Fainting
  • Impaired immunity
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Noticeable fluctuations (both up and down) of weight
  • Issues with one’s sleep
  • The discoloration of teeth as well as the development of cavities, which may result from vomiting
  • Stomach cramps and other non-specific gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and acid reflux
  • Constantly feeling cold
  • Dry hair and skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Muscle weakness
  • The Swelling of one’s feet
  • Fine hair on one’s body
  • Poor wound healing 
  • Cold, mottled hands
  • Swelling around the salivary glands
  • Dizziness, particularly when one stands up
  • Menstrual irregularities, such as missed periods or only experiencing a period when on hormonal contraceptives
  • Cuts and/or calluses across the top of finger joints, which could suggest inducing vomiting
  • Abnormal laboratory results such as low hormone levels, anemia, low white and red blood cell counts, and low potassium
  • Yellow skin (could be in the context of eating large amounts of carrots)

Eating disorders can have various both short and long term side effects on both one’s physical appearance as well as virtually every organ system in the body. While it is daunting, there are several different treatment options available across the United States. The National Eating Disorders Association separates different treatment techniques into distinct levels of care that depend on the severity of an individual’s current situation. These include intensive outpatient/outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, residential treatment, as well as inpatient treatment. Furthermore, there are several different types of psychotherapy available. Furthermore, a particular treatment route may not work for everyone. In fact, everyone’s recovery journey from an eating disorder will look different, and the types of treatments and psychotherapies that work best for some may not work so well for others. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of an eating disorder, there are also several hotlines you can contact to get in touch with the appropriate resources.

We are also here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You may contact us via phone (866-525-2766), email, or by filling out our contact form.

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