An estimated 45 million people in the United States (and many millions globally) go on a diet each year to try and shed extra pounds. While exercising and eating healthfully is important, obsessing over losing weight can turn into an eating disorder.
Eating disorders present in a variety of different forms such as bulimia, anorexia, and/or binge eating. Staying aware of the symptoms of an eating disorder and what you should do should you develop one can help you stay healthy.
Different Types of Eating Disorders
Though problems with food can manifest in different ways, there are three main types of eating disorders.
- Bulimia: Those with bulimia typically eat large amounts of food and then purge the food afterward by vomiting or using laxatives
- Anorexia: Those with anorexia avoid eating or eat extremely small amounts of food
- Binge eating: Those with binge eating may eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time
Look for Common Symptoms of Eating Disorders
One of the best ways to determine if you have an eating disorder is by watching for symptoms in your own habits and behavior. These symptoms may also be noticed by your friends, family, or other loved ones. Some of these symptoms may include:
- Having a fear of gaining weight or growing fat
- Withdrawing from activities with family and friends
- Becoming secretive and lying about it
- Experiencing anxiety and depression
- Feeling an intense fear of certain foods, such as foods that are sweet or have high levels of fat
- Obsessing over the number of calories and food eaten
- Avoiding situations that involve food
- Attempting to lose weight by purging, using laxatives or over-exercising
- Weighing yourself daily or multiple times per day
If you suspect you have an eating disorder, know that you aren’t alone and that help is available. Be proud that you are taking the first step and seeking help. It may be helpful to identify ways that you are not feeling in control in your life and the way you feel around food.
Keeping a journal of these feelings is a great way to learn more about your habits and identify the feelings that triggered your eating disorder. Next, talk with your insurance company (if in the US) or NHS/ privately if in UK and seek out a reputable doctor for eating disorder treatment. There are many specialists, counsellors, and rehabilitation centers available who are highly experienced in helping people recover from their disorder. Please note that the NHS may have waiting lists but seeking help is so important to find recovery.
Having an eating disorder often means you feel a lot of shame about yourself and your eating habits. Talking with a doctor and/or therapist can help you let go of this shame so you can love yourself and take the first steps on your road to healing.
This article was written by freelance writer Rachelle Wilber.