Eating Disorders: Know the Signs

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According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), an estimated 30 million Americans struggle with eating disorders. Eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with an average of one death every hour as a direct result of the condition. 

Dieting

  • Fasting or skipping meals 
  • Cutting out food groups (i.e. sugar, carbs, fat, dairy) 
  • Counting calories 
  • Weighing out food 

Preoccupation with exercise

  • Rigid exercise routine that causes distress if disrupted 
  • Obsessive use of fitness watches or trackers (obsession with reaching ‘step goals’) 
  • Exercising as a ‘punishment’ for food or to ‘earn’ food 

Sudden Obsession with Health

  • Adopting ‘clean’ eating 
  • Cutting out all ‘unhealthy’ foods and only eating ‘healthy’ foods 
  • Doing detoxes or cleanses 

Increase or decrease in socializing

  • Skipping socializing to avoid food or to do exercise 
  • Increasing socializing for constant distractions from food or to avoid mealtimes at home

Physical Signs

  • Losing period (if female) 
  • Weight fluctuations 
  • Tired, fatigued, dizzy, moody 
  • Swollen cheeks, calluses on knuckles, damage to teeth, bad breath (indicators of self-induced vomiting or starvation) 
  • Always cold 
  • Thinning hair 

Frequent Trips to the Bathroom

  • Going to the toilet often and/or for long periods of time during or after meals 
  • Long showers after meals 
  • Trips to the bathroom could be an indication of laxative or diuretics use, or vomiting 

The Implications for Treatment and Prevention

Understanding the brain’s roots in eating disorders has profound implications for treatment and prevention strategies. Educational programs that promote a holistic understanding of eating disorders, emphasizing the interaction between genetics, neurobiology, and environment, can contribute to a more nuanced and effective approach to prevention. 

#PracticeNourishment #FeedingHope 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can find additional resources through the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) or call the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD) Helpline at888-375-7767. 

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