Recognizing The Threat Of Eating Disorders: Are You At Risk?

Sadly, no other mental illness claims more lives than eating disorders, but too often, people fail to recognize the symptoms or choose to ignore them. If you even suspect you're afflicted with a disorder involving your perception, consumption, and elimination of food, you need to take the matter very seriously. Understand that you're not alone, first of all, then realize there is a way out and a means of getting better.

The Splurge And Purge

Bulimia involves over-eating, then forcing the food back up and out. While most people would find such a process repulsive, bulimics are compelled to expel food as an afterthought, believing they shouldn't have eaten the food in the first place. Sometimes, this disease presents itself in the image of a diet, where a person wanting to be thinner feels that purging is a legitimate way to lose weight or avoid gaining it. Purging food can lead to serious health concerns and beyond, so it's important that you be aware of the symptoms if you suspect you're bulimic or leaning towards the condition:

  • Over-eating.
  • Eating in secret and hiding the evidence.
  • Obsessing over everything you eat.
  • Being dangerously preoccupied with your weight and/or body image.
  • Rushing to throw up after eating or using a type of laxative to purge food rectally.


When someone simply chooses not to eat for reasons related to psychological and/or body-image issues, health may be compromised very quickly, leading to anorexia. Intentional starvation should be considered a symptom demanding outside intervention as soon as its observed, even before significant weight loss occurs. Anorexics may exhibit similar symptoms to bulimics and vice-versa:

  • Shocking weight loss.
  • Food obsession.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dehydration.
  • Feeling lightheaded and dizzy.

Since both anorexia and bulimia involve nutritional deprivation, the body faces a great number of ailments, any of which can produce a slew of symptoms. It's very important that someone with an eating disorder not be left to fend for themselves, wallowing in a self-imposed dungeon of potential doom.

How To Know If You Have A Serious Problem

If you're even preoccupied about food to the extent that you'd call it an obsession, you might be in need of professional guidance, particularly if you feel that your preoccupation sometimes leads to poor eating choices. This could very well be a sign of an impending problem that's going to eventually overwhelm you. Otherwise, any tendency to intentionally purge your food should warrant the most serious scrutiny by you and an attending physician or counselor, as should the habit of binging, whether it be to numb your emotions or mute inner demons or get back at an over-corrective parent.

There's no reason for anyone to face the battle with food alone, and failing to get the help you need could mean a dangerous escalation of your eating disorder. If your eating habits are out of control, fiercely hidden from others, or directly affecting how you feel and function, something is wrong and help should be sought. Don't feel ashamed or unworthy in seeking help, either, whether your disorder was instigated by the need for love and acceptance or you think it might be environmental or genetic.

What To Do About It

As with any illness or condition, recognizing it is the first step toward getting better, and you may have many options to choose from when treating an eating disorder. If the problem isn't so severe that it impacts your health and day-to-day living, consider confiding in a close friend or family member and letting them help you keep you in check. Read up on your condition and keep a journal about it, so you can be sure you're always acting in your best interests.

If you realize you're dealing with a potentially dangerous eating disorder, reach out for professional help as soon as possible. Eating disorders can be deadly, but they're also a major burden to deal with. It's tough when you live with a secret that heavy and you know you're constantly hurting yourself. There are clinics of various kinds, some where you might temporarily live there and others where you'd be an out-patient, but all are there to help you overcome the challenges you're facing. The situation isn't likely to resolve itself, and since problems with eating can impact every area of your life, from friends and your job to the integrity of your internal organs, you simply can't ignore the situation any longer.

How To Think Of Yourself Differently

No matter what kind of eating disorder you're grappling with or how you choose to address the matter, it's excruciatingly important that you unearth the underlying cause(s) of your condition. For many, having an unrealistic expectation about how their body should or shouldn't look is the driving force behind their eating disorder; they fight with that perceived image until it gets the better of them, leading them to act irrationally about the food they eat.

You are who you are, with your own unique and valuable characteristics, whether you are 10 pounds underweight or 50 over. That person doesn't improve with every fluctuation of the scale, nor does it worsen, according to the food you consume. Who you are is what matters, and taking good care of yourself should be the priority. If you need help to see that or to enforce it when mealtime comes around, reach out for that help. You must begin to think of yourself differently, in order to opt for being well over being thin or to deal with the emotions that drive you to overeat.

When that magic starts to happen to you, from the inside out, it is then that you begin to heal, and only then that you can learn to control the otherwise destructive forces that have mislead you to believing you lack value and awesomeness.