Signs of Eating Disorders and Ways to Help

A psychological disorder characterized by disturbed or abnormal eating habits is considered an eating disorder. The changed patter of eating often leads to disruption of your thinking, behavior, and mood. Overtime, it becomes so serious that it affects your social situations, interpersonal relationships, school, and work. It can also affect your health, which is the reason why you should know about the signs of eating disorders to seek help in a timely manner.

Types of Eating Disorders

You have an eating disorder if you develop an unhealthy relationship with food. These disorders can be divided into three main types:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Characterized by weight loss due to excessive exercise and dieting, this disorder makes people think that they need to lose more weight, even though they may already be below their normal weight range.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: People with this disorder have cycles of extreme overeating. This does not stop here – they resort to purging and other behaviors once they realize they have eaten so much. If you have this order, you will notice you can no longer control your eating habits.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: You have this disorder if you have regular episodes of extreme overeating. You may also lose control over eating.

Signs of Eating Disorders

You may experience different signs and symptoms depending on the type of eating disorder you may have.

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

You have this disorder when you become obsessed with body, food, and being thin. Women with this disorder start dieting to the point of self-starvation, which can have deadly consequences. The most common physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa are brittle nails, fatigue, menstrual irregularities, dizziness, and baby fine hair. You may also be underweight with a sunken appearance to your face.

They may be some behavioral and emotional signs as well. For instance, you engage in strenuous exercise, refuse to eat, and stick to a few foods with very low calories and fat. Many women with this disorder stick to some rigid eating rituals, for example they may only chew food and then spit it out instead of swallowing it.

Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

You have this disorder if you have regular cycles of bingeing and purging. People with this disorder first eat a large amount of food and they try to get rid of those additional calories by resorting to unhealthy 'purging' options, such as laxative abuse, vomiting, or excessive exercise. Some of the most common physical symptoms are soreness in the throat and mouth, damaged gums and teeth, abnormal bowel functioning, menstrual irregularities, swollen salivary glands, and inflammation of esophagus.

People with this disorder may also experience some behavioral problems, such as constant dieting, laxative abuse, self-induced vomiting, eating in secret, hiding food, frequent bathroom trips, and excessive exercise.

Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

You have this disorder when you have regular cycles of overeating, but that overeating is usually triggered by some emotional issue. Your weight may be quite normal, but you may still have this issue. Similarly, it is not necessary for every obese person to have this disorder.

There may be no signs and symptoms in this case, but certain issues include hoarding food, frequently eating alone, frequently dieting without weight loss, eating even when full, eating large amounts of food, and hiding empty food containers may occur.

You may have certain emotional symptoms as well; in fact, many emotional problems lead to binge eating in many cases. Some emotional symptoms include anxiety, grief, depression, disgust, and shame.

Can Eating Disorder Be Cured?

You cannot find a simple cure to deal with your eating disorder. However, if you know the signs of eating disorders, you can work with a therapist to recover in a better way. You will have to use a combination of nutritional education, therapy, and medical treatment to deal with your symptoms.

1. Therapies for Your Eating Disorder

You need to work with a therapist to treat your disorder who will tailor a treatment plan as per your symptoms. They offer help to restore you to a healthy weight while making sure you know how to treat any psychological problems associated with your eating disorder. You may require continuing therapy to prevent relapse.

2. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment

One important component of any eating disorder treatment is 'Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)". This is a highly structured therapy and you may have to take 10-20 sessions to notice its benefits. You can choose to receive it individually or join a group of people. The therapy is quite goal-oriented with emphasis on changing your unhealthy thought patterns. By changing your thought pattern, it is supposed to change your behavior associated with food.

3. Nutritional Counseling

In many cases, you also require nutritional counseling to help deal with your eating disorder in a better way. When you have an eating disorder, besides the various signs of eating disorders you present, it affects your perceptions of a healthy diet. By working with a nutritional counselor, you are more likely to be in a position to develop and follow a healthy eating plan. This will help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent issues related to excessive dieting. You can also work with a dietician to get a medically supervised diet to help lose or gain weight to reach your ideal weight.

4. Psychotherapy

You can make use of psychotherapy to identify the underlying causes of your eating disorder. Once you know your triggers, you will be in a better position to treat your disorder. It also helps shorten the recovery phase. You can also rely on psychotherapy to learn what you can do to deal with stress. It may also help you develop problem-solving skills, which prevent triggers such as anxiety and depression. 

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