How to recognise an eating disorder

How to recognise an eating disorder: early signs and symptoms

Eating disorders (EDs) are serious medical conditions that affect not only physical health but also the emotional and mental well-being of a person. Timely detection of these disorders can significantly aid in overcoming them. In this article, we will look at the early signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of an ED.

  1. Constant thoughts about food and weight

One of the first signs of an ED is a constant concern about food, calories, and one’s weight. A person may constantly count calories, study food composition, and always think about what they will eat next.

  1. Sudden weight changes

Sudden weight changes, both weight loss and weight gain, can be a sign of an ED. For example, with anorexia, weight drops sharply, while with bulimia, weight may fluctuate.

  1. Disrupted eating patterns

A person with an ED may have unusual eating habits: skipping meals, overeating, or, conversely, eating very little food. An important symptom is also eating at night or hiding food.

  1. Use of dietary supplements and laxatives

Abuse of dietary supplements, laxatives, or diuretics can indicate the presence of an ED. This is often done to control weight or cleanse the body after overeating.

  1. Emotional and behavioural changes

Mood swings, depression, anxiety, and social isolation can be associated with EDs. A person may avoid social situations where food is present or feel guilt and shame after eating.

  1. Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms may include a constant feeling of cold, fatigue, skin problems, hair and nail issues, and menstrual cycle disturbances in women. These are often the result of inadequate nutrition or laxative abuse.

  1. Perfectionism and self-criticism

People with EDs often have high levels of perfectionism and self-criticism, especially regarding their appearance and weight. They may set unrealistic standards for themselves and feel disappointed even with minor deviations from these standards.

How to get help

If you notice the listed symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, it is important not to delay and seek help from specialists. Fill out the feedback form on the “Nutrition for EDs” page to receive professional advice and develop an individual nutrition programme to help deal with the eating disorder.

Remember, timely intervention can significantly improve the quality of life and promote recovery. It is important to support loved ones who are struggling with EDs and not leave them alone with their problems.