The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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We’re often told that size doesn’t matter, but everywhere you turn, you see someone being shamed for not fitting the ideal. This constant feedback can devastate our sense of self-worth.
There are positive steps we can take to learn to love ourselves no matter our size or shape, but a lot of people still won’t accept themselves unless they fit that “perfect” ideal. What may start as a diet to drop a few pounds could become a dangerous eating disorder. Here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for in yourself and your loved ones.

Preoccupation with Weight
There’s a big difference between trying to lose a few pounds and being obsessed with what the scale reflects. Regardless of age, people suffering with anorexia or bulimia have an unhealthy fixation on what they should weigh. In their minds, they’ll only be perfect if they’re a certain weight.

Excessive Exercise
Taking an exercise cardio class to extra burn calories is always a good idea. However, when one class becomes many, especially within a short amount time, it might be a red flag of a bigger issue. People suffering eating disorders may exercise for hours at a time while reducing their caloric intake to lose weight.

Meal Prep
People with an eating disorder are usually pretty good at covering their tracks. In fact, they are sometimes so good that it’s hard to even identify the tell-tale clues that something is not right. But one thing that tips them off is how and what they eat. Meal prep often becomes ritualistic, meaning they’ll only eat small portions of certain foods in an attempt not to gain weight and they’ll do things to disguise how little they’re eating. The foods they do eat are usually very low in fat without nutritional benefit.

Mood Changes
Aside from the physical signs, someone battling an eating disorder may have rapidly cycling moods. They might seem anxious, irritable or depressed. Sometimes, mood swings are caused by the eating disorder. Other times, mood swings are caused by outside issues, which in turn, cause the eating disorder.

Control Over Food
In addition to only preparing specific meals at home, someone suffering from an eating disorder may respond negatively if dinner plans change or if the restaurant does serve what they “need” to eat. For someone battling anorexia, for example, having control over what they eat equates to having control in their life.

If you suspect someone you know has an eating disorder, or if you are exhibiting unhealthy exercise and eating habits, help is available. A therapist can help, or you may want to turn to inpatient eating disorder treatments. Learning how to love the skin your in is possible, even when you think all hope is lost.

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