Thank you to Claire for this guest blog post! If you have had / currently have an eating disorder, I recommend you check out “What Happens If You Need to Lose Weight and You Used to Have an Eating Disorder” over on Charlotte’s blog – it also has some very valuable insights and suggestions.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself whether your relationship with food is a healthy one? Do you find yourself preoccupied with thoughts of food—even if you do not overeat—or do other people’s questions about your eating habits seem intrusive? Even if you simply worry a lot about small fluctuations in your weight, it could be a warning sign that you may be at risk of developing an eating disorder. Sometimes, all it takes is a comment from a concerned friend to make a person wonder whether their attitude to eating is different from that of most people or whether it has changed dramatically over the years.
A Sense of Control in a Time of Chaos
The stereotype about people who have eating disorders is that they are totally unaware of it or are in complete denial about the subject. However, the truth is rarely that straightforward. Typically, eating disorders are an outward sign of other problems that the person is dealing with in his or her life. Keeping a firm grip on how and how much they eat may be a way of helping someone to maintain a sense of control over their life when they feel overwhelmed by problems over which they feel they have no control. If someone feels unable to confront negative feelings like anger, fear, guilt or sadness, the ability to exercise strong willpower when it comes to limiting his or her food intake, for example, could become a source of comfort and something that gives that person a certain sense of achievement. While they may suspect that their relationship with food may not be entirely healthy, that sense of control could be too precious to them to relinquish. Especially if, compared to other problems that may preoccupy their minds, an eating disorder appears to be of only minor importance.
Where to Find Help
If they manage to shed a few pounds, many people welcome it, whether they are overweight or not. Being able to make a change that affects the way they look and the way they feel about themselves can be a powerful confidence booster and, as a society, many of us feel under pressure to become or stay slim. However, excessive weight loss can take a cruel toll on the body, not only altering the outward appearance but also, potentially, causing damage to the heart. If weight loss becomes more important to you than health considerations it is a sign that you may be at risk of developing an eating disorder. For those concerned that they may have or be developing an eating disorder, help is available. There is a wealth of information resources online for those in Delaware, as well as help and advice from offline sources such as health centers. Online resources can help you to gather more information about eating disorders. Some of the information about the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder could come as a shock to someone who tries to live a healthy lifestyle and thinks they are “not the type” to have one. For more information or to answer any specific questions you may have on eating disorders, talk to your health practitioner.
Who is at Risk?
The reason why eating disorders can be so insidious is that, contrary to what many people suppose, there is no single kind of person who seeks to deal with sadness, depression or stress by controlling their food intake. Men and women from any age group, ethnic background or income group can be affected. Even people who focus on eating properly and living a healthy lifestyle can and do fall prey to them. In fact, having good self-discipline and the kind of personality that seeks to achieve goals could even exacerbate a problem. While two of the best known eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia are associated with weight loss or the attempt to control the weight, people who suffer from eating disorders are not necessarily of a low weight. Another eating disorder which is not always recognized as such is binge eating. Binge eating is perhaps the most common eating disorder to affect people today—and those affected could be of any weight. What all these eating disorders have in common, however, is the devastating effect they can have on a person’s health. If you suspect you may be developing an eating disorder, do not ignore it. Your health is too precious to be treated as a minor concern.