How to Spot the Signs of an Eating Disorder

In today's society where having a thigh gap is a mark of success, it's very easy for both men and women to get the idea that being successful and well-liked is predicated on being thin. Some people are naturally very thin but for the rest of us, it's a struggle as no matter what we eat, we still gain or maintain our weight.

There is a new fad diet every day it seems, and with the obsessiveness over popular models and celebrities, many young women are at great risk of falling victim to a serious eating disorder. While they sound fairly tame, many times eating disorder victims cause their bodies irreparable damage and some end up dying from their disease.

Sure, one could just find an eating disorder treatment center such as Rader Programs, but that may not be enough to reverse any serious damage.

Everyone's goal should be to be as healthy as possible, not as thin as possible. Just as you may have curly hair while your best friend has straight hair, you too may have bigger bones than your friend, so you may never weigh as little as she does. That may benefit you with certain later-life conditions like osteoporosis though, but that isn't a fashionable discussion sadly. Being thin is IN, in our culture.

There's a difference between dieting to restrict calories for awhile and having a full blown eating disorder, but as many people suffering will tell you, when you realize that you have a serious problem, it's almost too late.

Here are 5 ways to recognize a potential problem.

1. A constant feeling of exhaustion no matter what. This isn't the "I didn't get enough sleep" tiredness, it's a feeling that you can barely summon up the energy to do anything at all. 

2. The avoidance of eating around other people. If a normally sociable person begs off the weekly dinner out and says "I'll just eat at home and meet you later" then that could signal that something is wrong. 

3. Nonstop verbal obsession with weight. A person like this will talk of nothing other than his or her own weight and that of others. 

4. Compulsive exercising. While exercise can be mildly addictive in a positive way, a person with an eating disorder tends to exercise way more than necessary and will beat himself or herself up for missing a session. 

5. Hair loss. Without proper nutrition, hair loss can occur in patches. Hair can also just look lifeless and dull when you don't eat right.

Obviously there are various types of eating disorders and there are specific other symptoms for each one. However, these 5 warning signs do tend to be relevant to both anorexia and bulimia, for example. The key is to get help whether it's through simply discussing your feelings about eating with a friend or seeking a professional program.

Eating disorders affect close to 30 million people in the United States, and chances are one of your friends or family members is a sufferer. There is no shame in admitting that you have a problem and need help, as catching it early will hopefully mean an easier recovery and less prolonged suffering.

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