Although eating disorders may not interfere with your regular life, they have serious medical, psychosocial, and psychiatric consequences. They are characterized by irregular eating patterns and damaging relationships with food, exercise, and body image.
Eating disorders manifest in a wide range of symptoms and can impact your ability to perform well in relationships, academics, career, and life goals. Here are the common symptoms of many individuals suffering from an eating disorder.
Practicing rigid eating habits and rules
You will know you have an eating disorder when you engage in ritualistic food practices. That includes limiting your food intake, avoiding whole food groups, significantly restricting your food quantities, practicing inflexible food prep practices to reduce your intake, etc. Although eating a certain amount of food at a particular time may be part of a routine, it is dangerous when taken to extreme levels.
Exercising heavily to burn calories
Another tell-tale sign of an eating disorder is an obsession with performing heavy exercises to burn more calories. Exercising or working out is no longer a healthful and joyful practice for someone with an eating disorder. Instead, it is a way to punish oneself for eating a lot of food and taking too many calories. People with an eating disorder become obsessed with tracking the number of calories they take vs. those they expend during exercise.
Obsession over physical characteristics
According to an eating disorder specialist, people with eating disorders have unhealthy relationships with their body image. They are overly obsessed over how they look such that they focus more and are worried over physical characteristics that others don’t even notice. They worry about their image and may obsess over specific body parts and set unrealistic body weight and size goals.
Another symptom of an eating disorder is hoarding or stashing food. Some people may hoard selected food they deem ‘safe’ and may feel the need to stockpile or keep it separate so that other family members do not find and eat it. Other people with eating disorders hide food they deem ‘unsafe’ to avoid the urge to eat it. Luckily an eating disorder specialist can help one overcome these eating disorders.
Refusal to engage in a group eating
Someone with an eating disorder will refuse and avoid group settings where food is present because they don’t want to overeat. Consequently, they may go to great extents to avoid social settings where food is present or may disengage from gatherings when it is time to eat.
People with eating disorders constantly experience low self-esteem and often practice lousy eating habits to cope with feelings of inadequacy. Low self-esteem manifests through insecurities and inadequacies over physical appearance, body weight, and size features. Some people feel like they are not worthy and do not measure up to their peers when it comes to physical characteristics.
Eating disorders are real and manifest in different symptoms depending on the type of eating disorder. Binge eating, anorexia, and bulimia nervosa are the common types of eating disorders people experience. Thankfully, eating disorders are treatable through nutritional guidance and therapy.