As a follow up to my latest post, I have put this list together based on my own personal experience having had an eating disorder for three years during my late teens. These are some of the things that I did, or became aware of as common eating disorder symptoms after speaking to health professionals. If you can relate to any of the following points and are concerned that there may be a problem with your, or a loved one’s, eating habits you should try and seek professional help from your GP.
1. You’re obsessed with food (and not in a good way)
I’m not talking about being a ‘foodie’ or an avid cook or baker, I’m talking about being too obsessed with the day to day food that is usually more spontaneous. Instead of waking up, looking in the cupboard and deciding you want Cheerios that morning, you have your breakfasts planned for the next week. You are constantly thinking about what you have eat, what you want to eat, and what you will eat. You have become a constant dieter and obsessed with tracking your food or counting calories, as well as restricting them to a certain daily amount. Food is always on your mind and you find it hard to focus on anything else anymore without it popping back into focus.
2. You feel as though you have to excersise to deserve or be allowed food
You feel as though if you haven’t moved all day you shouldn’t need any food (not true!). You think that exercising permits you to eat, when often you are really eating much less than needed without the added calorie loss from exercise. You have become slightly addicted to exercise and are working out a lot more often than usual and a lot more intensely, with the main goal being to burn calories. This often involves a lot of cardio, aiming for a calorie goal. You don’t listen to your body anymore and will impulsively go to the gym whether you are tired, ill or really don’t want to.
3. You avoid eating with or in front of others
Eating in front of other people has become uncomfortable and you now avoid it at all costs. You feel watched and self conscious when eating in front of others and you make up excuses to get out of social situations involving food. You are sacrificing your social life for food and often miss out because of it.
4. You’re cutting out certain food groups
Eating certain foods such as fats, sugars or carbs, now make you feel unbelievably regretful and guilty. You have cut out a certain food group solely based on loosing weight and this group or food now makes you anxious and disgusted.
5. You have a distorted view on food sizes and portions
Eating a normal amount or portion of food now makes you feel guilty and out of control. You restrict yourself to unhealthily small portions, knowing that they are not enough, but can’t bring yourself to eat over this amount. You’re tell yourself that you don’t need anymore than this and that you are greedy for wanting more. Other’s have commented on the amount of food that you are eating, but you have insisted that you are not hungry even when you are.
6. You’re not listening to your body’s hunger ques
You eat what you have allowed yourself, and have planned, rather than when you are hungry and lacking in energy. This may mean starving yourself and ignoring intense feelings of hunger but still refusing to eat because you feel as though you shouldn’t have anymore. You eat at set times that you have planned to eat at, and allow no flexibility with these timings no matter how hungry you may be. You often go to bed hungry.
7. You binge eat
You eat large amounts of food in a small amount of time, usually when you are feeling emotional. This is often compulsive and you feel like you have no control over your excessive eating and can’t stop. You feel extremely guilty afterwards and then punish yourself by restricting even more the next day, and/or pushing yourself to do even more exercise.
8. You’re forcing yourself to throw up or using laxatives
Following a binge, or after eating something that you view as ‘bad’ or not part of your calorie allowance, you purge or use laxatives to get the food out of your body. Your main aim for this is to stop your body from taking in the calories in that food, or because you feel disgusted at yourself for what you have eat and fear it will cause you to gain weight.
9.You eat in secret
You buy, store and eat food secretly. You don’t like people watching what you eat or knowing what you’ve eat. You hide food to make sure that nobody interrupts your planned meals.
10.You think that you may have a problem with food
You have actively searched for help and are reading this post because you have started to see an issue with your own behaviour. You know that there is a problem and that something has to change.
If you can relate to any of these scenarios, then it’s probably a sign that your relationship with food isn’t quite right and need to get some help. It’s very easy to think that you can handle things on your own, and that you don’t have a problem or can stop when you want to. But it’s even easier for these things to spiral quickly out of control and take over your life. The sooner you try and take control, the better.
Mental health problems are not a personal weakness and there is nothing wrong with getting help!
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