In today’s society, perfection is a requirement and being as close to perfect as possible is a goal of many men and women, regardless of age. The pressure to look like a supermodel begins to weigh on children as early as elementary school these days, and affects girls more frequently than boys. When perfection is just out of reach with diet and exercise, many people turn to extreme behaviors in order to make themselves conform to society’s perfect ideals, and signs of eating disorders may become evident.
Signs of eating disorders vary depending on the type of disorder. Anorexia and bulimia are disorders that involve the individual restricting calories to an extreme amount, working out excessively or bingeing on food and then “purging” that food in a vicious cycle. The signs of eating disorders in both of these cases, which can actually occur at the same time, are very similar. Signs of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia include dramatic and rapid weight loss; obsession with weight, calories and exercise; wearing of bigger clothes than necessary to hide the body or weight loss; trips to the bathroom after meals; over-use of diet pills and laxatives; isolation and fear of eating; hiding food to avoid eating or to eat later and keeping of a diary with information on foods eaten and bingeing and restrictive behaviors.
Other unusual signs of eating disorders that restrict intake include food rituals that are out of the ordinary, like cutting food up into small pieces, scraping food off of a fork or spoon with the lips, spitting food out without swallowing or hiding food in a napkin or on the floor. Physical signs of eating disorders like this may include dizziness, hair loss, sore throats, bad teeth, low blood pressure, constipation and loss of periods in women.
However not all eating disorders focus on losing weight or restrictions. Some, such as compulsive overeating and bingeing disorders, focus on eating as much as possible either all the time or in secret. Signs of eating disorders of this type include uncontrollable eating or inability to stop eating, self-isolation in order to keep others from knowing eating habits, constant dieting and hiding of food to eat later. Other signs of eating disorders that involve overeating include secretive eating patterns, making self-deprecating statements after eating and openly believing that life would improve “if only” the sufferer could lose weight. People who show signs of eating disorders like overeating and bingeing blame their losses and failures on society holding them back because of their size, which is commonly overweight or obese. Physical signs of eating disorders like this include joint pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, loss of mobility, depression and insomnia as weight gain continues to build.
If someone you know shows signs of eating disorders, talk to them one on one. Keep an eye out for signs of eating disorders and urge the person afflicted to seek treatment before their health is damaged permanently.