The first time I realized I might have an eating disorder, I was making myself a salad at work. I used a tiny plate and threw together some romaine lettuce, green peppers, and cucumbers. I topped the salad with salt and pepper, sat down at a booth, and added up the calories on the app on my phone. It brought my total intake of the day of just over 500, which scared me to death. I’d been under 500 every other day that week, and all my progress was going to be ruined because of a salad. I knew something was wrong.
The first hurdle towards recovery is coming to the realization that you’re struggling. And that takes a while. You’ll make excuses for days, week, even months to justify why your eating habits are the way they are. You’ll hide behaviors from people without even noticing it. You’ll tell yourself that it’s just temporary, and you’ll go back to normal soon. You’ll convince yourself that other people do worse things, so you can’t be that bad off. You’ll realize that no one else seems too concerned about you, so there probably isn’t anything to worry about. But if you find yourself having to repeat these mantras on a daily basis, you need to take a closer look at your situation.
Symptoms of eating disorders vary depending on which one someone suffers from, but the following factors, especially when combined, may indicate a deeper problem:
- constant dieting
- fear of food
- feeling out of control when it comes to food
- weighing yourself frequently
- avoiding situations in which food is involved
- adapting rituals when eating – cutting food into tiny pieces, taking frequent sips of water, etc.
- lying to others about how much you eat or when you eat
- making excuses not to eat
- making a list of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods
- only eating when alone
- obsessively counting calories
- fluctuating weight
- mood changes
- loss of period in females
- dizziness and fatigue
- finding your mind preoccupied with food and calories
- excessive exercising
If you feel you suffer from one or more of the things listed above, and if you think that it could become a serious problem in the future, do not hesitate to reach out and get help. Tell a loved one, do some research on your own, or find a professional to talk to. It’s better to be overly cautious than not cautious enough.