If you think that a loved one may be suffering from anorexia, it is important that you try to recognize key warning signs of anorexia in order to help that person receive treatment as soon as possible. Anorexia nervosa is an extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening disorder that can also lead to other dangerous conditions. If you recognize that a friend, family member, or child is showing anorexia signs, it is important to take the proper steps to help them begin professional eating disorder treatment and begin the path to recovery.
Because individuals suffering from anorexia will go to great lengths to disguise their thinness, unhealthy eating habits, or physical problems, it may be difficult to see the warning signs of anorexia, at least initially. Therefore, by the time that you do recognize anorexia signs, the eating disorder may have been going on for quite some time and the person may be in serious need of medical help. The following are some warning signs of anorexia that you can look for in friends, family members, or loved ones if you suspect that they may suffer from an eating disorder:
Sudden and severe weight loss
Frequently making excuses for not eating or reporting already ate
Lying about weight loss or the amount of food eaten
Adopting an extremely limited diet including only a few certain “safe” foods that are usually very low in fat and calories
Establishing rigid meal or eating rituals including cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing
Cooking elaborate meals or baking for others and then refusing to eat
Obsessively and repeatedly weighing of themselves
Frequently checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
Complaining about being fat especially despite being underweight, therefore, showing a distorted body image
Eating in secrecy or seclusion
Refusal to eat in public or in front of others
Withdrawal from normal social activities
Wearing baggy or layered clothing to hide small size
Loss of menstruation
Excessive exercising in an attempt to lose more weight
Obsessive preoccupation with food that can cause distraction from normal activities
Fatigue, lack of emotion, or irritability
What to Do When you Recognize Anorexia Signs
If you notice these warning signs of anorexia in yourself, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Eating disorder treatment centers are available to help you overcome this disorder that can lead to serious medical complications and even death if left untreated.
If you recognize anorexia signs in a loved one including a friend or family member, you should encourage them to seek anorexia treatment. Because of the overwhelming desire to lose weight and be thin, it can be difficult to convince someone with an eating disorder that they should receive eating disorder treatment. However, urging a loved one to talk to an eating disorder doctor and seek eating disorder treatment will show you genuinely care. Expressing a desire to listen and help can open the door for this person to begin accepting treatment.
For parents whose children are showing warning signs of anorexia this can be an extremely emotional time. It is important to look at the anorexia signs carefully and be careful not to mistake occasional dieting or new fad eating styles as an eating disorder. If you suspect that your child or teenager suffers from anorexia, you may want to speak with your child’s doctor, consult for free an eating disorder specialist or find an eating disorder treatment center.