We often talk about how to recognize eating disorders, but what if you are one of those people who feel that you do not have an eating disorder? This can be tricky because most mental health professionals agree that anyone who feels hungry all the time has an eating disorder.
It is important to note that even though you may believe that your behavior does not cross the line of having an eating disorder, it still needs treatment.
You might think that your habits are your own personal choice, but when they become too frequent and/or intense, this becomes problematic.
This article will discuss some warning signs that could indicate if you should see a doctor for an eating disorder.
Is it your binge eating or your bulging belly?
Many people consider having to check their waist size in the mirror every few minutes while they are awake to be a defining feature of someone with dieting issues. However, this is only one marker that some form of disordered eating may be present.
Dieters will often measure how much food they have after each meal to make sure there’s enough for another snack later. This can sometimes lead to over-eating because you don’t want to run out!
Another way to identify if you have an eating disorder is by looking at the timing of your meals. Some people find it easier to eat when other people around them are not watching too closely, but you seem to put more attention into whether your stomach is empty or not than anyone else would.
Always try to keep an eye on your weight
We’ve discussed before here how important it is to acknowledge your body differences, but eating disorders go beyond just about any other thing like color or shape. They also involve food.
Eating too much of certain foods or skipping meals completely are both symptoms of an eating disorder. So when you see someone that seems to be obsessed with their diet, sifting through all sorts of foods they can eat or never let themselves eat, this may indicate an eating disorder.
Weighing yourself more than once per week and having to make changes due to different weights is another tell-tale sign. If you notice either of these things in yourself or someone else, help them look for answers for why they feel the need to focus so heavily on food.
You might want to check if they have an underlying health condition like diabetes or hypothyroidism. Or if they’re suffering from stress or depression. All of these could contribute to feeling hungry, and then seeking out food as a solution.
Always seek a medical diagnosis
It is very important to understand that eating disorders are not just about weight, body shape or self-image. They can affect anyone at any time, of any gender, with no obvious risk factors. While there are things you might notice about someone’s appearance that could be considered ‘unhealthy’ (e.g., they look thin), even these changes may be due to chance rather than warning signs of an ED.
In fact, most people will have what we refer to as a moment in their life when they feel slightly uncomfortable with their own body. This feeling is totally normal and it usually goes away by itself.
When this doesn’t happen and it seems like it won’t go away then maybe it’s time to do something about it? We recommend that you see a doctor so that you know for sure if there are symptoms of an eating disorder.
A good place to start looking into whether or not you need help is here at The Royal Women’s Hospital. All our services relate to mental health and offer lots of different resources and treatments.
Always seek help
Even if you think you can handle this yourself, seeking professional help is always your best bet. It may be difficult to come to terms with that fact at first, but talking about your symptoms with someone trained in eating disorders will give you the needed support.
Most people who develop an eating disorder recognize they have a problem before looking into possible causes. This makes them feel more guilty for having these unhealthy habits, instead of being aware and accepting of their body image issues.
If you are worried or concerned about your weight loss or gain, dieting behaviors, or comments about your appearance from others, it’s important to talk to someone.
This could be a friend, family member, doctor, or psychologist. No one else will hurt as much as you will when you look inside yourself for the cause of your problems.
Once you realize you have a health issue, putting together the appropriate treatment takes care of the rest.
You may be binge eating
People who suffer from binge-eating disorder (BED) eat too much in short periods of time to satisfy their hunger. They will then make up for it by engaging in exercise or other activities, such as talking, to distract them from how hungry they are.
Many people think that someone with BED is just person who loves food too much. This isn’t always the case, however.
People with BED can experience feelings similar to those experienced by people with full-on disorders. For instance, you might feel anxious or stressed out when you’re thinking about food.
You might also have trouble sleeping at night because you’re preoccupied with thoughts of food. And you could start wishing you were never born due to your constant worry about whether you’ll find enough food to eat.
You may be bulging
Many people have trouble defining what constitutes an eating disorder. Some say it is only when you are actively trying to lose weight, but there’s a lot of gray area between wanting to lose weight and having an eating disorder.
Some experts believe that being overweight can contribute to someone developing an eating disorder, so clearly not everyone who wants to look better than they do has an eating disorder.
However, as we know, food can play a major role in our overall mood, so if your appetite decreases and you start limiting yourself on how much you eat, this could indicate an eating disorder.
There are several types of eating disorders. Some examples include:
Anorexia nervosa — This is when individuals develop an aversion to foods and exercise and sometimes go beyond dieting by experiencing starvation.
— This is when individuals develop an aversion to foods and exercise and sometimes go beyond dieting by experiencing starvation. Bulimia nervosa — With this type of eating disorder, individuals enjoy eating foods frequently, but then later on feel hungry and need to eat again, so they overdo it.
— with this type of eating disorder, individuals enjoy eating foods frequently, but then later on feel hunger and need to eat again, so they overdo it. Binge eating — This happens when individuals overeat without thinking about why they are eating or taking breaks to breathe.
You could have a hormonal imbalance
There are many factors that can contribute to eating disorders, including genetics, early experiences with food, stress, relationship issues, and certain hormones.
One of the most common causes is low levels of estrogen. This may be due to menopause or other reasons such as use of birth control pills.
When you experience menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes), they can make it difficult to maintain normal weight. Also, as your body begins to down-regulate its production of estrogen, your appetite changes to account for this.
You may also find yourself craving foods high in fat or sugar because these contain some estrogen. However, research shows that diets rich in either of these two nutrients may actually increase levels of testosterone, which can then influence eating behavior.
That’s why it’s important to limit carbohydrates while trying to lose weight. Many people feel better when they eat less than when they don’t, but only because of the way their bodies respond to glucose — a simple carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, and carbs like bread and pasta.
However, studies show that dieting often makes individuals feel hungry and anxious, both of which influence eating behaviors.
You could be eating for emotional reasons
Emotional eating is not always due to having an eating disorder. Many people eat in response to emotions – whether they are positive or negative.
For example, you might eat because of stress, anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, guilt, or pride.
Running down to the grocery store after a big argument with your partner can make you feel better. (That’s probably why he didn’t come along!)
Alternatively, staying home from work because you got stuck in traffic feels good until you run out of food. Or maybe you ate before and now you’re hungry again, so you go shopping to find something to satisfy that hunger.
There’s no wrong way to do it as long as your body knows how to balance itself. However, if you seem to be engaging in this behavior more frequently than usual then it’s worth addressing the reason.
It could be a signal that there’s a health issue going on — like depression or anxiety, for instance. Or perhaps you’re feeling stressed about life and career changes at work.