Identifying Eating Disorder Characteristics
Eating disorders are complex, multi-faceted, and deadly mental health diseases affecting men and women of all ages and body types. Eating disorders do not begin overnight; in fact, most eating disorders begin with slight behaviors that build in intensity and frequency over time.
The following behaviors may help you recognize if you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder:
· Skipping meals and/or snacks
· Avoidance of social settings that include food
· Around meal time, reporting lack of hunger or previously eating
· Feeling guilt or shame after eating or towards one’s body
· Change in food preferences or eating style
· Frequent trips to the bathroom after eating
· Blood shot eyes and inflamed jaw line
· Eating in secret; finding hidden food and/or food packaging
· Eating or not eating in order to deal with emotions such as stress, sadness, or anxiety
· Frequent conversations focused on food, weight and/or body
· Frequent worry or fear of health consequences associated with eating certain foods
· Complaints of persistent gastrointestinal distress
· Eating to the point of discomfort and/or pain
Early interventions allows for the best overall outcomes, including decrease in duration of the illness and normalizing weight and eating patterns. Friends and family members are the first line of defense against eating disorders and can be key components in the recovery process.
Prevention practices, such as, limiting any discussion about weight or body, avoid labeling foods as good or bad, and incorporating joyful movement versus rigid exercise can greatly impact someone’s relationship with food. Cooking and eating meals together can also be a powerful tool. Sharing meals as a family, allows parents to model appropriate food behaviors, while providing time to connect with your child.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one struggling with one or more of these behaviors, seek the help of an a doctor, therapist, or dietitian specializing in the treatment of eating disorders. Other information about eating disorders can be found at www.eatingdisorderhope.com and www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Casey Bonano RD, LD, CEDRD
Casey is a Registered & Licensed Dietitian with extensive experience working with clients that struggle with a variety of weight and eating issues. She has specific experience with anorexia, bulimia and over eating/binge eating. Casey's passion and expertise in the Eating Disorder field has led her to complete all requirements to receive the CEDRD (Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian) title through IAEDP (International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals). Casey provides individual, group, and family nutritional counseling in the outpatient setting.