What Are the Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder?

The two most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Both conditions can affect either males or females and are extremely serious. To protect someone you love or care about, learn the warning signs of eating disorders.

An eating disorder develops from an unhealthy view of yourself and your relationship to food. Food is a vehicle for delivering nutrients to the body. That doesn’t mean that food can’t taste good but that eating the right foods is important for growth, health and a positive body image.

Anorexia nervosa involves a fear of gaining weight. No matter how slim the person is, when they look in the mirror they see someone who is too fat. In an attempt to control their weight, a person with anorexia nervosa will eat small portions of food. The problem here is that the portions are not big enough to provide any type of good nutrition.

Warning signs of anorexia are easy to miss if you are not careful. Sufferers usually explain their extremely small portions as dieting to get in shape. At first no one will question that since teenagers are always in conflict about their body. If your child used to eat with the family but now says that they are eating elsewhere, be concerned.

Anorexics are always concerned with weight. They exercise to excess, constantly weigh themselves and count calories in everything - even water. Any celebration that revolves around food will alarm them and they will likely bow out. No matter how thin they get, they always say they are fat.

Where a person with anorexia tends to be underweight, people who suffer from bulimia nervosa are normal to slightly overweight. They also fear getting fat and strive to control their food to control their lives. Bulimics have a dim view of their body shape and often have low self-esteem.

As a way of coping with their feelings, they eat uncontrollably away from prying eyes. Guilty feelings cause them to purge after their binging. They vomit or use laxatives to get rid of the food that they have eaten. They also shy away from any gathering that involves food and exercise a lot in an attempt to lose weight. You may see boxes of laxatives or enema bottles in the trash or in their room if your child is bulimic.

Eating disorders are becoming quite common among teenagers. Unless treated, anorexia and bulimia can get out of control and cause serious, irreversible damage to the body. If you notice any of the above activities going on with your child or a friend, get them to a doctor immediately. Early intervention can stop a lifetime of health problems and keep the disorder from proving fatal.