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Do I Have an Eating Disorder? Signs and Symptoms

Eating disorders impact an estimated 30 million Americans, and only 10% of people receive treatment. They affect people of all ages, genders, weights, and backgrounds. If you have found yourself worrying, “Do I have an eating disorder?” keep reading.

This article details types of eating disorders, signs, and symptoms, and how you can get help.

Types of Eating Disorders

People often think of eating disorders in black & white terms, but they are more complicated than that. Here are some examples of eating disorders and what they involve:

Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

AN is one of the most commonly known disorders characterized by a distorted perception of the body, fear of weight gain, and significant weight loss. AN has two subtypes: restricting or binge/purging.

A person with restrictive AN may limit their daily calorie intake or use unhealthy amounts of exercise to burn calories. AN-binge/purging subtype involves cycles of binging followed by calorie restriction or purgative behaviors.

Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

BN is similar to the binge/purging subtype of AN. Someone with BN feels a lack of control over eating habits and binges on large amounts of food at once. They will “compensate” by purging after a binging episode.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

BED is characterized by eating large qualities of food, often alone, past the feeling of fullness. People with BED lack control during these episodes and feel shame or guilt. As a result, they may turn to food for comfort, perpetuating the binging cycle.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID causes avoidance of foods based on texture, taste, smell, temperature, color, or disinterest. It goes beyond “picky eating” and can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

A Note on Disordered Eating

While disordered eating is not yet a term recognized by the DSM, it describes unhealthy behaviors around food or eating that can lead to an eating disorder. Extreme dieting, emotional eating, binging and purging, and restrictive eating are all examples of disordered eating behaviors.

Early Signs of an Eating Disorder

Initial signs of an eating disorder may be difficult to recognize. They include:

  • Weight fluctuations

  • Gastrointestinal issues

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle

  • Brain fog

  • Lightheadedness

  • Over-exercising

  • Making excuses to avoid or put off eating

  • Changes in self-esteem

While eating disorders are not just about food, one may find themself fixated on it. Avoiding situations where food is present, thinking of some food as “safe” and others as “off-limits,” hiding food, or preoccupation with nutrition labels may signal an unhealthy relationship with food.

Eating Disorder Treatment

A person struggling with anorexia nervosa is over five times more likely to die than non-disordered peers in their age group. Eating disorders often coincide with other mental illnesses like anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression. Along with an increased risk for suicide, eating disorders can cause:

  • Cardiovascular issues

  • Life-threatening dehydration

  • Malnutrition

You don’t need to be physically sick to seek out treatment. You can begin recovery no matter what point you are at.

How Did You Answer “Do I Have an Eating Disorder?”

If you suspect the answer to the question “Do I have an eating disorder?” is yes (or maybe), then this is the right time to explore ways to help yourself. Recovery is possible, and I’m here to help. Book a free 15-minute discovery call with me at Recovered Now so we can talk about how to begin healing your relationship with food.

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