Sign #7: You Use Laxatives To Drop Weight
Laxatives can be helpful occasionally for people with digestive problems; theyre not meant as a weight-loss aid. Laxatives, cleanses, diuretics, and diet pills are often abused by people who are desperate to see the number on the scale go down, says Brennan. If you find yourself in a codependent relationship with your scale, try putting it away or having a friend store it for you for a while. If you need to weigh yourself in order to follow medical advice, talk with your provider about alternatives to having a scale in the home, such as using the scale at a gym or pharmacy one time per week. It can be very freeing to have your day start without they tyranny of the number on the scale.
What Are The Symptoms Of Eating Disorders
If you have an eating disorder, you will probably spend a lot of time worrying about how you look. You might feel guilty when you eat or think you haven’t exercised enough. You might feel bad about yourself when you think you weigh too much. Other people might tell you that you have lost too much weight, even though you think you weigh too much.
You might feel tired. If you are a woman, you might stop having periods. Fine hair might start growing on your body. If you use water pills or laxatives to lose weight, you might get muscle cramps or have heart palpitations.
Strategies For Effective Treatment
Consult your family doctor for an assessment or a referral to an appropriate specialist. There are a variety of specialists, including adolescent medicine, who are specially trained to diagnose and treat disordered eating. Trying to address it on your own is often difficult and ineffective, notes Dr. Heinberg.
From the beginning, having family support is associated with better outcomes for patients with disordered eating. Family-based treatments are considered the most effective in treating adolescents and young adults. However, the involvement of a support system is very helpful for patients of any age.
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Do You Control Your Food Or Does Your Food Control You
If you had to stop following a specific way of eating tomorrow and start listening to your body- what would that feel like? Would you be overcome with grief and shame?;Would anxiety overwhelm you to the point of general distress?;And how do you feel about eating food you did not prepare?
Does the thought of not controlling what is on your plate cause panic?
How Might Eating Problems Affect My Life
Eating problems are not just about food. They can be about difficult things and painful feelings. You may be finding these hard to express, face or resolve.
Focusing on food can be a way of hiding these feelings and problems, even from yourself. Eating problems can affect you in lots of ways.
You might feel:
- scared of other people finding out.
You might find that:
- it’s hard to concentrate on your work, studies or hobbies
- controlling food or eating has become the most important thing in your life
- it’s hard to be spontaneous, to travel or to go anywhere new
- your appearance is changing or has changed
- you are bullied or teased about food and eating
- you develop short- or long-term physical health problems
- you want to avoid socialising, dates and restaurants or eating in public
- you have to drop out of school or college, leave work or stop doing things you enjoy.
With friends, family or other people, you might feel that:
- you’re distant from those who don’t know how you feel, or who are upset they can’t do more to help
- they focus a lot on the effect eating problems can have on your body
- they only think you have a problem if your body looks different to how they think it should be
- they sometimes comment on your appearance in ways you find difficult
- they don’t really understand how complicated things are for you.
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Eating Disorder Quiz: How Do I Know If I Have An Eating Disorder
Interested in taking our 4 minute quiz and receiving tailored feedback about the nature of your possible eating disorder symptoms?
If so, read on!
Its common for people to wonder whether they may have an eating disorder.
Many of the symptoms of eating disorders are so common in modern society that this way of living may be the new norm.
Although determining whether you meet criteria for a specific eating disorder requires a lengthy diagnostic interview with a professional, answering a self-report survey can give you important insights towards the nature of your symptoms.
If youre interested in finding out about your current eating patterns, complete the questionnaire below, which assesses broad range of eating disorder symptoms..
While this quiz cannot be used to diagnose someone, responses can tell you where you stand in relation to the general population.
If you take this 4 minute quiz, you will receive personalized feedback about your current level of eating disorder symptoms.
See how you go!
Please note that your responses will be completely confidential and no identifiable information will be collected or shared. The feedback we provide will be based on norms established through published, peer-reviewed research. Unidentifiable responses may be used for research purposes, so answering these questions implies that youve read the Plain Language Statement and given consent.
Take the test and see how you go!
Emotional And Physical Risks
Eating disorders not only take a toll on our emotional and social well-being, work, school, and future goals, they can have serious physical ramifications and are potentially life-threatening.
Potential Health Risks of Anorexia
- Low heart rate and low blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart failure.
- Loss of bone density which can lead to osteoporosis.
- Severe dehydration.
Potential Health Risks of Binge Eating Disorder
- High cholesterol.
- Heart disease.
Its important to note that someone can have a body that is larger than our society deems healthy, and still be in excellent health. Conversely, a person can appear to look healthy and be extremely ill. Eating disorders are about a persons relationship with food, exercise, and their body. They cannot be assessed simply by looking at someone.
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Check If You Have An Eating Disorder
If you or people around you are worried that you have an unhealthy relationship with food, you could have an eating disorder.
Symptoms of eating disorders include:
- spending a lot of time worrying about your weight and body shape
- avoiding socialising when you think food will be involved
- eating very little food
- making yourself sick or taking laxatives after you eat
- exercising too much
- cutting food into small pieces or eating very slowly
- wearing loose or baggy clothes to hide their weight loss
What’s It Like To Have An Eating Problem
If you have an eating problem, there are many ways that it can affect how you feel or behave. The way you eat, and how you think about food, may be one of the most noticeable effects.
Warning: the video and the examples below may be upsetting and potentially triggering. If you are feeling vulnerable at the moment, you might want to move on to the next section.
Watch Shaista, Dave, Lilith and Olivia talk about their eating problems. They discuss their experiences of eating disorders such as anorexia, restrictive eating, bingeing and purging. This video is seven minutes and 16 seconds long.
- restrict the amount of food you eat
- eat more than you need, or feel out of control when you eat
- eat regularly in secret or have a fear of eating in public
- feel very anxious about eating or digesting food
- eat in response to difficult emotions without feeling physically hungry
- stick to a rigid set of diet rules or certain foods
- feel anxious and upset if you have to eat something else
- do things to get rid of what you eat, sometimes known as purging
- feel disgusted at the idea of eating certain foods
- eat things that aren’t really food, such as dirt, soap or paint
- feel scared of certain types of food
- think about food and eating a lot, even all the time
- compare your body to other people’s and think a lot about its shape or size
- check, test and weigh your body very often
- base your self-worth on your weight, or whether you pass your checks and tests.
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Sign #5: Youre Getting Increasingly Rigid About Food Choices
If you always modify your food order at restaurants to the point that it raises eyebrows with your friends, it might be time to reexamine your motivation. The stricter you become with what you eat, the less enjoyment you get out of your meal. A hyper-focus on what you are eating, or not, can negatively affect a persons relationship with food long term as well as negatively impact normal life activities, says Mysko. Obsession with food, along with the ordinary pressure to look a certain way, can be extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, society plays a role in perpetuating the notion that foods are good or bad. If this sounds like you, you may want to seek guidance and consultation from a registered dietitian about your nutritional needs and how to balance your diet.
How Can The Eating Disorder Test Help You
Wondering, Which eating disorder do I have? or things like that can add to your stress level. Taking a test allows you to understand your situation better. Plus, it might reveal hidden issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. After taking the quiz, you can consult a nutritionist or a trained medic and discuss the results with them.
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Who Should Consider Virtual Treatment
Virtual intensive outpatient programs are designed for individuals who want the benefits of intensive outpatient care without the need of traveling to our treatment center. You can keep your work or school schedule and still get the structure and intensive group support you need to achieve your goals and maintain your new life. Our virtual programs in North Carolina offer:
- Three, 3-hour small group sessions a week so you can connect with people like you and practice new skills in a supportive virtual setting. Group sessions include Skills, Nutrition/Meals, and Process Support.
- One weekly individual or family session with a licensed counselor or psychologist
- One weekly session with a Registered Dietitian
- Collaboration with outpatient medical providers
- Recovery Record app to help you record your treatment and progress
- Secure, encrypted software for complete confidentiality
The First Steps To Recovery
If you or someone you care about exhibits one or more of the warning signs listed, you need to act. An eating disorder can quickly take on a life of its own. The treatment process can be started by contacting the individuals primary care physician for a physical evaluation, including laboratory studies and an EKG.
Now its time to find the appropriate level of treatment. Depending on the severity of the issue, this may be a therapist who is comfortable working with eating disorders, an outpatient eating disorder program, or even an inpatient facility that can offer round-the-clock care.
Eating disorders can be successfully treated, especially when they are caught early, but its important to get help as soon as possible.
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Types Of Eating Disorder
Individuals struggling with an eating disorder will have obsessive thoughts about food all day, every day. The individual thinks about calories, taste, food avoidance, or where to buy food. They will spend hours meal planning, counting calories, exercising, and engaging in binging or purging activities to the point that it affects their everyday life.
The most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa, and each one of these eating disorders can present differently in each individual and carry lifelong consequences.
Signs Of Anorexia Nervosa
People with anorexia nervosa have an extreme fear of gaining weight. They often diet and exercise relentlessly, sometimes to the point of starvation. About one-third to one-half of anorexics also binge and purge by vomiting or misusing laxatives. People with anorexia have a distorted body image, thinking they are overweight when in fact they are underweight. They may count calories obsessively and only allow themselves tiny portions of certain specific foods. When confronted, someone with anorexia will often deny that thereâs a problem.
The signs of anorexia can be subtle at first, because it develops gradually. It may begin as an interest in dieting before an event like a school dance or a beach vacation. But as the disorder takes hold, preoccupation with weight intensifies. It creates a vicious cycle: The more weight the person loses, the more that person worries and obsesses about weight.
The following symptoms and behaviors are common in people with anorexia:
- Dramatic weight loss
- Complaining about constipation or stomach pain
- Denying that extreme thinness is a problem
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Exercising Excessively To Burn Calories
With an eating disorder, exercise can become more than a means of joyful or healthful movement. Instead, it may become a way to compensate for caloric intake or as a way to punish themselves for eating too much. People with eating disorders often become obsessive about tracking the number of calories expended versus the number of those taken in.
What Are The Different Types Of Eating Disorder
There are a number of different types of eating disorder, each with their own unique features.
People with anorexia are obsessed with being thin, have an irrational fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image . People with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible and often achieve this by starving themselves and engaging in ‘purging’ behaviours where they try to remove calories from their body.
People with bulimia tend to binge and then make themselves sick, abuse laxatives or exercise excessively to try and get rid of the calories consumed . These binge-purge cycles are driven by an obsessive need to control food intake, and can be triggered by stress, anxiety or hunger. Bulimia can be harder to spot than anorexia because often, someone with bulimia stays a ‘normal’ weight.
Binge eating disorder
People with binge eating disorder binge eat on a regular basis, often eating huge amounts of unhealthy food, even when they are not hungry. However, people with BED dont show any purging behaviours, which means that they are likely to become obese.
Eating disorders not otherwise specified
Eating disorders not otherwise specified , also referred to as atypical eating disorders, can resemble other forms of eating disorder but do not meet the exact requirements in order to receive a formal diagnosis.
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Treatment For Eating Disorders
You can recover from an eating disorder, but it may take time and recovery will be different for everyone.
If you’re referred to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists, they’ll be responsible for your care.
They should talk to you about the support you might need, such as for other conditions you have, and include this in your treatment plan.
Your treatment will depend on the type of eating disorder you have, but usually includes a talking therapy.
You may also need regular health checks if your eating disorder is having an impact on your physical health.
Your treatment may also involve working through a guided self-help programme if you have bulimia or binge eating disorder.
Most people will be offered individual therapy, but those with binge eating disorder may be offered group therapy.
Read more about the different treatments for:
Treatment for other specified feeding or eating disorder will depend on the type of eating disorder your symptoms are most like.
For example, if your symptoms are most like anorexia, your treatment will be similar to the treatment for anorexia.
Avoidant/restrictive Food Intake Disorder
ARFID is when someone avoids certain foods, limits how much they eat or does both.
Beliefs about weight or body shape are not reasons why people develop ARFID.
Possible reasons for ARFID include:
- negative feelings over the smell, taste or texture of certain foods
- a response to a past experience with food that was upsetting, for example, choking or being sick after eating something
- not feeling hungry or just a lack of interest in eating
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Think Your Child May Have An Eating Disorder
If you start to notice signs or symptoms in your child that concern you, Dr. Myers said openly talking about them right away is key.
Express those concerns as a parent in a way that is supportive, not focusing on weight or shape but instead on specific behaviors, she said.
Its better, Dr. Myers said, just being upfront, not blaming, not trying to do a simple fix like, You just need to stop doing this, but instead coming from a more understanding viewpoint. ;This must be difficult, and Im here to talk, and I am so concerned I would like to set up an appointment with a professional to discuss this further.
Sign #9: You Berate Yourself If You Dont Work Out Every Day
Regular exercise is essential for ideal health, and doctors recommend at least three to four workout sessions a week. But if you find yourself freaking out when you miss leg day at the gym, you might be developing an unhealthy attachment to your fitness regimen. There is no doubt that a regular exercise practice is healthy and can help alleviate stress and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, says Brennan. However, if you are doing things like skipping your kids dance recital, turning down social invitations, or feeling compelled to exercise in the middle of the night, you may be developing a compulsive relationship with exercise. This can lead to eating disorders and dangerous weight loss, poor nutrition, fragile bones, and injuries. If this is you, see a sports psychologist and registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition to help you get on a balanced movement plan.
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