Have you noticed bizarre or out-of-the-ordinary eating habits in a close friend or family member? Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are dangerous conditions and not to be taken lightly. We share some of the signs and symptoms that raise a red flag.
Change in interests
The sufferer may have a new outlook on subjects such as weight, nutrition and exercise. This change may be either very noticeable or more hidden. For instance, the person may make frequent comments about the size or weight of friends and celebrities or talk about how high in fat and calories certain foods are. But the signs may be more understated, such as frequently reading nutrition labels or avoiding certain foods.
Focus on food
You might expect someone with an eating disorder to avoid the notion of food entirely, but in fact it is often the opposite. Many individuals with eating disorders take an increased interest in food and may look at recipes and pictures of food more often. Many may also keep a food diary that keeps track of how much they eat and how extensive their exercise is. You may also notice a sufferer urges others to eat while denying his or her own hunger and being vague about past meals.
An individual who is consuming less food or eating irregularly may seem like a different person emotionally as well as physically. The lack of nutrition can cause the person to seem fatigued, depressed and irritable. They may also seem particularly down on themselves and look to others for validation and approval.
Many eating disorder sufferers exhibit signs of social withdrawal. They may be less inclined to go out with friends or attend occasions where eating food is required. In the case of bulimia, sufferers will often retreat to the bathroom during or immediately after a meal. You may also notice them eating abnormally large quantities of food before they do so.
Naturally many individuals who are severely reducing their food intake may experience extreme weight loss in a short amount of time. But it’s important to remember that eating disorders come in many forms, so just because someone doesn’t seem to be getting thinner doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering. Individuals may also seem paler than usual, experience hair loss or frequently complain of being cold. Bulimia sufferers may also have a puffier appearance in the face due to swollen salivary glands and have cuts or calluses on the hands from purging.
Though anorexia and bulimia are the more well-known diseases, eating disorders come in different forms, and the signs and symptoms can change from one day to the next. Visit MayoClinic’s website for more information on whether involving a doctor may be necessary and on how to encourage your loved one to seek help.