Anorexia Warning Signs - Symptoms of
How do you identify if you or a loved one is suffering from an eating
disorder? With such a cultural fixation on weight, food, and exercise, it's not
uncommon for girls and women to obsess over their bodies or their weight. While
even a mild preoccupation with weight and appearance can be unhealthy, it is important
to note the difference between this and a diagnosable eating disorder.
are some of the most common warning signs of Anorexia Nervosa, as outlined
by the National Eating Disorders Association website (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org):
- Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat
grams, and dieting.
- Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing
to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g. no carbohydrates, etc.).
- Frequent comments about feeling "fat" or overweight
despite weight loss.
- Anxiety about gaining weight or being "fat."
- Denial of hunger.
- Development of food rituals
(e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a
- Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations
- Excessive, rigid exercise regimen--despite weather,
fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to "burn off" calories taken in.
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and
control of food are becoming primary concerns.
Anorexia is often accompanied
by anxiety and depression, so those are important warning signs to note as well.
The drive to starve is unnatural and unhealthy, and is typically a sign of low
self-esteem and lack of a sense of identity.
Anorexia occurs most commonly
in young women, but does affect men and older adults as well. Adolescence is usually
when the onset of Anorexia occurs, but any period of great change can trigger
the illness in a susceptible individual, such as graduating from high school or
college, relocating, going through a break-up or divorce, or losing a loved one.
warning signs can be hard to detect, especially at first. An individual with Anorexia
may try to hide her illness. You might think she's just on a diet, or making an
attempt to "eat healthier." But it's important to remember that diets
can lead to eating disorders-any fixation on food can become a dangerous obsession.
I recommend that any of my clients wanting to lose weight or change their
eating habits first seek the professional guidance of an RD (Registered Dietitian)
to ensure that they are monitored during their weight loss process. A Dietitian
can help you to understand how proteins, carbohydrates, and fats work together
in your body to keep you healthy and energized. It's crucial to have the right
combination of nutrients to keep our organs (and our moods!) happy and well.
you're concerned that a friend or family member may be suffering from Anorexia,
or leaning in that direction, be a supportive friend. Remind him or her that you
love them, and offer your support if they decide to reach out for help. Visit
the National Eating Disorders Association website at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
for more information or to find treatment professionals in your area.