Eating disorders are mental illnesses that often get overlooked. But did you know that 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life? Since teenagers are at a much higher risk, it is important to know the signs of eating disorders so you can recognize them and seek help.
Anorexia – Purposefully restricting food consumption in order to lose weight, fear of gaining weight, and viewing one’s body as larger than it really is.
–Signs: Obsession with food and calories, weight loss, becoming less social, avoiding eating around others, exercising more than necessary.
Bulimia – A repeated cycle of eating excessive amounts of food (binging) and compensating afterwards by vomiting, using laxatives, fasting, or an engaging an unhealthy amount of exercise.
–Signs: Disappearing after eating, large amounts of food go “missing” in a short amount of time, teeth become stained (from constant vomiting), and hiding food.
Binge Eating Disorder – Similar to bulimia, however no method is used to get rid of food after binging.
–Signs: Uncomfortable eating around people, fluctuations in weight (gaining and losing), and irregular eating schedule (i.e. skipping a meal, then binging later).
Orthorexia – An unhealthy fixation on the nutritional value and/or source of the food.
–Signs: Refusing to eat foods with certain ingredients or amounts of a certain nutrient, over-exercising or maintaining strict exercising routine, and feeling scared to eat at restaurants or places where no nutrition information is provided.
These are just the most common eating disorders, but there is another category called Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), which encompasses any issues with consumption of food, weight, or body image. You can help yourself or anyone else who may have an eating disorder, and promote a mentally and physically happier society.
– Kari Larsen