Spot the signs of an eating disorder before it is too late

Do you suspect that a loved one has an eating disorder? Eating disorders are a lot more common than...

Do you suspect that a loved one has an eating disorder? Eating disorders are a lot more common than you might think, and if left untreated could cause a host of health problems, including tooth decay, kidney or liver damage and body wasting that could potentially become life-threatening. It is important to know the warning signs of these disorders so that you can help your loved one receive proper treatment.

Signs of bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder that causes the sufferer to purge or throw up food. Bulimia can sometimes occur in combination with anorexia, but commonly occurs in a binge/purge cycle where an overabundance of food is consumed in one sitting, then vomited immediately afterward. Signs to look for in someone who might have bulimia include:

  • going to the bathroom right after a meal
  • excessive body odor or bad breath
  • rounded, puffy cheeks caused by muscle strain in the jaws from vomiting
  • raw throat or mouth upon examination
  • hiding food that will be eaten later
  • hiding containers filled with vomit in closets or drawers to conceal the disorder

Signs of anorexia

Anorexia is an eating disorder that makes the person avoid eating or consuming food out of fear of becoming fat. Anorexia is often a result of body dysmorphic disorder, which causes sufferers to see themselves in a very skewed and distorted way. People with anorexia will see themselves as fat, or parts of their bodies as fat, when in actuality they are extremely thin. Food is very controlled, and often certain foods are avoided or shunned completely, such as sweets or foods that contain fat.

These are the signs to look for in someone who might have anorexia:

  • pinching or poking in front of the mirror to check fat levels
  • excessive weight loss
  • strictly controlling what foods are consumed
  • thinking that people are plotting to make him or her fat
  • growing fine hair all over the body
  • thinking that food has been "spiked" with fatty ingredients
  • bringing "safe" food to events and gatherings

If you feel like someone you care about may have an eating disorder, don't hesitate to consult with a specialized Atlanta-based doctor. The doctor can give you information and resources to help your friend or family member before it is too late.

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