Bringing up the subject of a suspected eating disorder with a close friend or family member is never easy. Nevertheless, it often isn’t until the subject is brought out into the open that the individual concerned may feel compelled to both listen and do something about it. After all, the efforts of even the most experienced Harley street counsellor are of little to no value, if the individual in question isn’t yet ready to acknowledge that they have a problem.
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of eating disorders do not just simply materialise out of nowhere overnight. Instead, they manifest slowly and quietly over a much longer period of time, which is precisely why it can be so difficult to know when and where things have become problematic. Not only this, but there are far too many these days who are too quick to label themselves or others as having genuine eating disorders, when in reality this isn’t the case at all.
So when it comes to spotting the signs of possible eating disorders in close friends and family members, what should you be on the lookout for?
Well, perhaps the most obvious example of a characteristic warning sign is something of an obsessive compulsion with dieting. This can be a tricky one to pinpoint, however, given the fact that there are so many people who are well and truly obsessed with dieting, though do not have any kind of eating disorder whatsoever. In this instance, it’s wise to be on the lookout for any signs of unhealthy dieting, or diets that the individual in question clearly does not need to follow.
Laxative Abuse and Vomiting
Another relatively obvious example of an eating disorder indicator is that of forced vomiting and/or laxative abuse. It is relatively common for individuals affected by certain eating disorders to routinely use laxatives and similar treatments they do not need, or resort to deliberately vomiting after eating – especially after consuming larger meals. Should either of these things be suspected, it is important that the subject be brought up and discussed as soon as possible.
Signs of Binge Eating
On the other end of the scale there are those who simply cannot control their eating habits and are prone to dangerous and unhealthy binge eating. Once again, there is a big difference between occasionally going over the top with unhealthy snacks and routinely eating compulsively until you literally cannot take another bite. Binge eating is often an indicative symptom of one or many underlying psychological health issues. Once again therefore, it is advisable to bring the subject out into the open as early as possible, rather than brushing it to one side.
Eating Habit Changes
In fact, any changes in eating habits whatsoever that come out of the blue and are somewhat unusual for the person in question could be indicative of a problem. Whether they are suddenly eating more, eating a lot less or have radically changed what they eat, it’s much better to discuss your concerns as early as possible than to overlook and ignore them.
Another tell-tale sign of a possible eating disorder is when the person in question continually and routinely makes any and every excuse possible not to eat. They may tell you that they have already eaten even though you know this isn’t the case, or perhaps pretend they do not like what is on offer or have plans to eat later on. If you know for a fact that what they are saying is untrue and they are simply making excuses, it’s worth being honest and discussing your concerns with them.
Weight Loss or Gain
In terms of physical signs and symptoms, any indication of unwanted or excessive weight loss or weight gain may be a sign of an eating disorder. This is particularly true and indeed obvious when the individual in question loses or gains a great deal of weight in a short period of time. It can however be much more difficult to spot when the weight gain or loss is gradual.
Unhealthy Body Fixation
Last but not least, millions of adults and teenagers all over the world will find themselves going through much of their lives without being particularly happy with the way they look. Nevertheless, there is a big difference between having an interest in your personal appearance and being completely and utterly obsessed with your size. When an individual firmly believes that they desperately need to lose or gain weight despite the fact that quite the opposite is true, there’s every chance they could benefit from a professional consultation.