Signs That a Loved One Has an Eating Disorder

2. May 2016

As a species, we humans have a wide variety of potential afflictions from which we can suffer. The majority of them aren’t major causes of concern, mostly being things like the common cold or some other type of ailment that can be quietly treated with a variety of over-the-counter medications. However, there are also a number of more serious conditions. These physical and psychological illnesses can cause more concerning symptoms and prohibit people from going to work or school, meeting their basic health needs, participating in their important relationships, and so on. In short, having a physical, mental, or emotional health condition can affect virtually every aspect of a person’s life.

Eating disorders are one such health problem that many people seem to underestimate in terms of severity. There are several different types of eating disorders, each with very extreme effects that sap a person—specifically someone who has an unhealthy relationship with food—of his or her physical health. And while eating disorders are treatable, they can quickly cause a person serious harm. Therefore, it’s important for one to be aware of what, exactly, constitutes an eating disorder while becoming knowledgeable of the main signs that might indicate an eating disorder in a loved one.

What Exactly are Eating Disorders?

The origin of an eating disorder is often related to perceptions of one’s body or because of a lack of self-esteem. Being unhappy with their bodies, their physical appearances, or for some other reason pertaining to low self-esteem, people sometimes adopt an extremist view of food and eating. However, rather than simply going on a diet, more drastic measures are taken. In short, an eating disorder is characterized by very unusual, harmful eating habits and severe distress that’s caused by a distorted, negative perception of one’s weight, body shape, or some other aspect of appearance. On the other hand, there have been other contributors to the development of an eating disorder found as well, including biological or genetic factors, biochemical, environmental, and cultural.

Whereas many afflictions tend to occur most often in certain demographics or due to specific lifestyle choices; however, eating disorders can occur in people of virtually any age whether a person is young of middle-aged or older. Additionally, the development of an eating disorder can occur as a result of some other pre-existing condition that causes people to adopt obsessive-compulsive-like behaviors. In particular, eating disorders occur most often with such mental or emotional disorders as anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression, and substance abuse. However, while researchers have been able to pinpoint a number of things that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, there’s not been one single factor known to be the cause; instead, it’s believed that—like addiction, diabetes, and a number of other diseases—the development of an eating disorder occurs as a result of a confluence of different factors.

Anorexia Nervosa

While there are several different types of eating disorders, anorexia nervosa—or just “anorexia” for short—is the most well-known and most common eating disorder. Typically, a person who is anorexic has an abnormally, unhealthily low body weight while also seemingly to be paranoid or extremely fearful of gaining weight. Generally, people who are anorexia obsess over the number they see on the scale when they weigh themselves; the lower the number, the better about themselves they feel. In order to lose the initial weight and maintain an extremely low weight, people who are anorexic will restrict the amount of food they allow themselves to eat. In some instances, they may vomit the food they’ve eaten to ensure a low caloric intake, but that’s not as common as with anorexia as with other types of eating disorders. However, it’s much more common for people who suffer from anorexia nervosa to abuse laxatives, diet pills, and enemas.

depressed girl sitting alone

Binge Eating Disorder

Everyone has experienced the gluttonous discomfort of having eaten much more food in a sitting than one should have eaten. Especially common at holiday gatherings, these are typically isolated incidents that don’t represent a person’s typically eating habits. However, some people binge much more frequently than most others. For these people, food is often a means of comfort and a way to alleviate any mental or emotional distress they might be feeling. Much like the way an addict “self-medicates” with drugs to the point of intoxication, these individuals binge-eat because the food offers them comfort and they want to become “intoxicated”  from the food. In fact, those who suffer from binge eating disorder typically can’t control themselves during their episodes of binge eating. Moreover, this disorder is not to be confused with bulimia as those with binge eating disorder don’t follow their binging episodes with “purging”, or vomiting the food they’ve eaten.

Bulimia Nervosa

There’s an eating disorder that’s often difficult for the person’s loved one’s to detect. Called bulimia nervosa—or just “bulimia” for short—this disorder could be considered an amalgam of both anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Individuals who are bulimic tend to have frequent episodes of binge eating, but follow those episodes by either purging (expelling the food through induced vomiting), fasting, or exercising excessively. The reason that bulimia is difficult to detect is because a bulimic individual makes sure that loved ones see him or her eating and only purges in secret; therefore, the individual may quickly lose weight, but it will appear to his or her family as if the weight loss isn’t related to his or her eating habits.

Let Intervention Help You or Your Loved One Begin Recovery

Getting help for an addiction is a big decision that’s quite difficult to make. Sometimes a person needs encouragement, and that’s what we’re here for. Intervention Services is the nation’s leading intervention provider. If you have a loved one who would benefit from our intervention services, please call us toll-free at 877-478-4621 at your earliest convenience. We understand how emotional a time this is and want to help you, your family, and your addicted loved one regain physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual health.