If you obsess about what, when, and how much you eat, do you have an eating disorder? Here are a few signs of unhealthy eating habits, to help you know if you have anorexia or bulimia nervosa.
These signs of anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and body dysmorphic disorder could help you recognize an eating disorder. I struggled with bulimia for years; I know firsthand that eating disorders aren’t about weight loss, diets, or healthy eating. Eating disorders are serious emotional health issues that need time and attention. Bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and other eating disorders are about feeling sad and unhappy about who you are.
Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia aren’t just about dieting and weight loss. They’re about control, perfection, and emotional eating. Nobody is “safe” from falling into disordered eating – not even men or boys. Body dysmorphic disorder, binge eating, bulimia and other eating disorders indicate a sadness about one’s body and life. There are other harmful eating disordered behavior: anorexia or self-starvation, laxative use, compulsive eating, and over-exercising. Some eating disorders are obvious, others less easy to see.
The root of many types of eating disorders are found in fear, anxiety, grief, inadequacy or failure. Eating disorders are efforts to take control in a chaotic life – desperate attempts to deal with difficult situations and negative feelings. Eating disorders may start as a way to take control or avoid certain emotions, and then develop into a habit that is incredibly difficult to overcome (but not impossible, so stay the course!). The feelings that can lead to a full-fledged eating disorder are exacerbated, or made worse, by society’s standards of beauty and perfection. This is how body dysmorphic disorder can start.
Recognizing the signs of eating disorders is the first step to effective treatment.
Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, or Healthy Eating?
There is a huge difference between an eating disorder, which is a psychological disorder requiring diagnosis and treatment, and simply being preoccupied with weight, fitness, and healthy eating. It’s almost impossible to live in North America and not be concerned with weight loss, since we’re as a society obsessed with beauty and perfection. The line between eating disorders and healthy eating can blur – which is why knowing how to recognize the signs of eating disorders is so important.
You may have an eating disorder if you:
- feel fat even if your weight and BMI is normal
- eat to avoid dealing with feelings, people, or situations
- want to be perfect
- feel bad about yourself, unworthy, or insignificant
- are preoccupied with food, calories, and eating
- eat until you’re painfully full, and/or purge by using laxatives or vomiting
- don’t recognize when you’re truly physically hungry for food
- don’t eat at all, or eat less than 1,000 calories a day
- are excessively thin or overweight
- exercise all the time
Saying “yes” to one or two of these signs of eating disorders doesn’t necessarily mean you have an eating disorder, but it could indicate that your body image or self-esteem isn’t healthy.
Effectively treating anorexia or bulimia can involve cognitive behavioral therapy, medications such as antidepressants, or in-patient treatment at a hospital. Different treatments work for different people, which is why it’s so important to talk to a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist as soon as possible.
Feel free to share your thoughts and comments about eating disorders below. Or, tell me your favorite food!
On a happier note…
What are your favorite foods? More importantly – how does your body feel after you eat?
I love eating:
- Cilantro salsa (my husband’s secret recipe)
- My special lunch, which I’ve been eating every day for at least 2 years
- My special dinner salad
- Incredibly ripe mangos and pineapples
- A giant yellow bowl of hot buttered popcorn with salt and a few prunes
- Sushi from Yuko Maki in North Vancouver (delicious, cheap, and exactly the right amount)
- Black Jack Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream
- Pull ’n Peel red licorice
- Hot coffee with soy milk and sugar
- A cold glass of crisp pink zinfandel or rich red glass of pinot noir
I eat almost everything on this list almost every single day. I rarely vary my diet, unless I have people over for dinner or go out to eat. I’ve found that this saves me so much time – I don’t spend any time looking up recipes, deciding what to cook, or even cooking! I love it.
More importantly, I’m learning how to tune into my body after I eat. How does food make me feel?
How do you feel after you eat?
After I eat everything except for two things on my list of favorite foods, I feel:
In short (and I always feel short because I’m only five feet tall), I feel great after I eat! But it took me a long, long time to learn this. Four decades, in fact. I’m 46 and I’m finally making the connection between how my body feels physically and emotionally after I eat food. This is a huge breakthrough for me because of the years I struggled with out of control binge eating.
As a result, I’ve lost 20 pounds. I’m actually thinner than I’d like to be – which is something I never thought I’d say. My butt is flat like bannock and my hip, chest, and rib bones are visible. I’m not a skeleton and definitely not anorexic, but I could gain a pound or two. However, I suspect I won’t gain much weight because I’m learning how to eat foods that make me feel good, energized, light, and happy. Those foods don’t make people gain weight.
How I feel after eating is becoming much more important to me than the taste of the food itself.
Do you struggle with your weight, or with emotional eating? I did for most of my life – but not anymore. Diets aren’t the answer. For me, the only solution was to take time to think about how my body and spirit feels after I eat. And then I do my best to stop eating foods that make me feel gross.
Your thoughts, big and little, are welcome below. If you have any tips or tools for travel that transforms you, please do share those. We love tips and tools :-)
Travel in faith, and be transformed.
Travel in Faith and Blossom
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