Everybody has a body. And unfortunately, whether we like it or not, society will have something to say about it. We live in a culture that values and idolizes a certain body type/image no matter your gender or biological sex. We are constantly bombarded with messages of how we should look both covertly and overtly. These messages can be harmful especially when they are not focused on the health and overall wellbeing of a person. Sometimes we internalize these messages, whether they be from society, friends, or a family member and it can be detrimental to our health and self-esteem.
Eating healthy and exercising are both things that have been promoted for a long time now. For good reason, as those things lead to longer and healthier lives. It is great to want to achieve certain eating and exercise goals, but there comes a point to where those habits can fall into the unhealthy category.
Warning signs of an eating disorder you may notice in yourself or in a friend or family member.
1. Obsessing over physical appearance
Look out for negative self-talk about their body and how they look, as well as comparing themself to unreachable standards on social media. It is one thing to want to look a certain way, but sometimes these thoughts can take more space in our heads than they deserve. If it feels difficult to focus on anything else other than physical appearance this may be a warning sign.
2. Dramatic change in eating or exercise habits
This could be anything from eating a lot for one sitting to being secretive or isolating self when eating. Paying attention to their relationship with food is important. Are they eating to nourish themselves or is it because they are trying to avoid gaining weight so they only allow themselves to eat certain foods?
Exercising habits are also something to be mindful of too. Do they feel that in order to be “worthy” of food they have to exercise first? Are they calculating caloric intake to see how much they will have to exercise in order for it to be burned off?
3. Noticeable fluctuations in weight (but not always!)
One of the misnomers about eating disorders is that the person who is struggling with one looks malnourished and is extremely thin. This is not always the case. The majority of people who have an eating disorder are of normal or above average weight. It is not always outright apparent just by looking at someone.
Stats around disordered eating
There is help out there for those who think they or someone they care about may struggle with disordered eating. Also, a person may not meet every single criteria for a certain eating disorder, but the symptoms they do have can still be addressed in therapy and other forms of treatment. Having a healthy relationship with food is more complicated than it sounds, but figuring out what is right for you can have tremendous benefits.
The National Eating Disorders Association has many resources and more information on this topic and is linked below. We at Mindsight are also here for you, so call and make an appointment if this is something that is negatively affecting you or the people you care about.
Allie is a new clinician at Mindsight. She is obsessed with her Maltipoo, Mollie, and she will happily bombard you with photos. In her free time, she participates in activities such as bird watching, giving her plants a pep talk, and trying out new recipes with an 80% success rate. She can often be found in a hammock outside sipping a bubble tea and serenading the neighbors with her ukulele.