What Kind of Relationship Do You Have With Food?

Signs and Symptoms of an Eating Disorder

It’s no secret that we live in a diet-obsessed and beauty-crazed society. Just turn on the TV and count the seconds before you catch an ad for the latest weight-loss fad or seductive images of a bikini-clad model biting into a fast-food chain’s hamburger. Many women and men are feeling the pressure to achieve society’s narrow definitions of “beauty.” Fighting our body’s natural weight and size may begin as an innocuous effort to increase body satisfaction yet can quickly unravel to a serious and potentially life-threatening illness. Nearly 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime.

Most people can say they’ve heard of or know of someone who struggled with Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder. However, there is much confusion about a lesser known eating disorder that is often hidden under the guise of health – Orthorexia. The term Orthorexia describes individuals who develop an unhealthy obsession with avoiding any and all foods that are deemed unhealthy. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, an extreme fixation with eliminating many types of foods or ingredients can lead to malnutrition and even death. Read the signs and symptoms of several different types of eating disorders:

  • Significant changes in weight or difficulty maintaining a healthy weight range
  • Obsessive about food, exercise, weight or body image
  • Unrealistic expectations of weight and size; low self-esteem
  • Visible binge eating episodes, disappearing after meals, making excuses to avoid meals
  • Unusual food habits or rituals during meals (e.g., cutting food into small pieces)
  • Vague or secretive eating habits
  • Dizziness, headaches, fainting spells, stomach pain, sore throat
  • Mood swings, depression, irritability
  • Obsesses about the quality and health properties of food
  • Packs special foods to bring to restaurants or social gatherings
  • Has extreme labels for food such as “clean” or “poisonous”
  • Takes an exorbitant amount of supplements and herbal remedies
  • Takes diet pills, diuretics, or weight loss medication
  • Feels guilty if unable to strictly follow diet regimen

Despite what kind of unhealthy relationship someone may have with food or body image, help is available and recovery is possible. For more information on treatment and counseling please visit DrJamieLong.com. Also, NEDA has information and eating disorder resources available via its website and helpline: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org, NEDA Helpline: 800 931-2237.