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Warning signs of an Eating Disorder

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

About 9% of Australians will experience an eating disorder at some point in their life. Therefore it's very possible that you will know someone with an eating disorder. Being aware of the signs of an eating disorder means you can help to guide that person to seek support sooner.

Remember, weight is not the only indicator of an eating disorder. In fact, many people with an eating disorder may not fit that highly emancipated image we have come to expect when thinking of people living with eating disorders. Eating disorders can affect people at any weight, from any background, sexuality, gender, or culture.

Similarly, the signs of an eating disorder may be very different for different people, so it's important to remember that this isn't a complete list, and if you are worried, it's worth having a bringing it up with the person you are concerned about.

Physically, you may see:

  • Changes in their weight

  • Changes to menstruation and their cycle

  • Light-headedness or even fainting

  • Cold sensitivity (even when it seems warm to others)

  • Tooth damage (due to poor nutrition or vomiting)

  • Use of laxatives

  • Evidence of vomit in toilet bowls or elsewhere

You might notice these behaviours around food or meal times:

  • A strong preoccupation with food, higher anxiety around meal times

  • Avoiding specific food groups, or significant changes in food choices (e.g. no refusing to eat meat when previously enjoyed, refusing to eat "bad" foods, etc.)

  • Counting calories or fasting

  • Exercise patterns which seem obsessive

  • Stress when unable to exercise as normal

  • Rigid ideas of food, unable to be flexible in eating habits

  • Avoiding social meals, or withdrawing from activities

  • Hiding food, and lying about foods eaten

Other behaviours you might notice include

  • Low self-esteem

  • Distorted body image and extreme body dissatisfaction

  • Moodiness, depression, anxiety

  • Absolute thinking about foods (certain foods are "good" others are "bad")

If you're concerned about a loved one, encourage them to talk to their GP about their eating habits, or ask them to book in to see a trained health professional that they feel comfortable with. If you are reading this feeling that you may be experiencing some of these signs yourself, now is the time to take action. An untreated eating disorder can get worse, and getting help early is beneficial to your recovery journey.

If you need support, we are here to help you, get in touch today by booking in online or calling 0422480159.


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