What is an eating disorder? What are the 5 signs to look for? Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are serious disorders which can have devastating or life-threatening consequences if not treated. People with anorexia have a distorted body image and see themselves as fat even if they are malnourished and extremely underweight. If not treated, anorexics can become so malnourished that they can face organ failure and death. Bulimics have a pattern of eating excessively and then purging themselves immediately afterwards. Though most bulimics are not underweight, they can suffer the health consequences of constant purging with erosion of the esophagus and teeth enamel.
Most people with eating disorders suffer in secret because they feel ashamed or have extreme guilt. If you see the early warning signs of an eating disorder, you can intervene before the disease takes over the person’s life and jeopardizes their health. The five most common signs of an eating disorder are related to the person’s behavior and outward signs of an obsession with food and weight:
- An obsession about weight and dieting, even if underweight or thin.
- Skipping meals or avoiding social situations involving food.
- Wearing baggy clothes to hide the body.
- Obsessive exercising and making negative comments about their body.
- Eating food or hoarding food in secret.
If you are aware of the 5 signs to look for in an eating disorder, and see someone who may have an eating disorder, seek immediate professional help for the person. Try to talk to the person in a non-judgmental manner and show them you are concerned about their long-term health. With early treatment, eating disorders are treatable and a full recovery to health is possible.