An eating disorder can be described as having an unhealthy relationship with food. This can be eating too little or too much, even obsessing about your weight and body shape.
Eating disorders can affect anyone at any age but they tend to affect young women aged 13 to 17 years old more than any other group.
There are several signs to look out for if you are concerned about yourself or someone else and their relationship with food.
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Preoccupation with body image
Behavior such as spending a large time in front of a mirror, making negative comments about physical appearance, and insisting they are overweight does not always point to someone who has an eating disorder.
However, if you notice somebody becoming preoccupied and comparing themselves to celebrities in a negative manner, this can be cause for concern.
Studying nutritional content
Looking at the makeup of food is often encouraged. Knowing what is good or bad for us is seen as a positive thing, however, this can be taken too far.
Categorizing food as “good” or “bad”, or drastically changing their eating habit can be a warning sign that their relationship with food isn’t necessarily a good one.
Increase in exercise
Sometimes those suffering from an eating disorder will increase exercise and show more concern for the number of calories being burnt during exercise. It can become a ritualistic obsession for them and any break away from the routine can cause upset.
Use of diet pills and laxatives
Using diet pills and laxatives can have a long term negative health impact and should only be used for the purpose intended.
As an eating disorder picks up traction, you may notice somebody become annoyed more easily or irritated with things that previously never phased them.
A lack of interest in socializing or being different in social situations can also be a sign to look out for.
Why do people suffer from eating disorders?
An eating disorder can happen for lots of different reasons. They can happen gradually, often without the individual noticing, or it can be sudden.
Sometimes people will have an eating disorder for a long time before they notice and acknowledge that their relationship with food is poor.
There can be a lot of external factors that cause an individual to suffer, this can range from; their upbringing, how they cope with stress and life more generally, and any history of eating disorders within their family.
As you might expect there has been a lot of research carried out on this subject. It has been shown that eating disorders can be down to mental development, even autism has been linked to eating disorders. In particular, this is something Newbridge Health have further looked into as a potential cause and gained a greater understanding of how to treat.
Are eating disorders treatable?
When treating an eating disorder it is important to know the cause as this will help prevent any recurrence.
So for example, if an individual has an eating disorder linked to autism, it would be prudent to seek treatment through those who specialise in such.