The last week of February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, an opportunity to discuss the disorder 30 million Americans are living with.

With photoshop, social media, and the pressures to be “perfect,” teens and young adults often struggle with body image issues and develop dangerous habits as a result. Unhealthy eating patterns can cause serious damage to the body, and in severe cases, even become fatal.  

Those who battle eating disorders at young ages can receive treatment and proceed to live a long, healthy life. However, a toxic relationship with food caused by deep-rooted body image issues is not something everyone works through and outgrows.

Because eating disorders and mental health go hand in hand, it’s essential that a loved one steps in if they start to notice harmful behavior.

In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, we’re discussing how to spot an unhealthy relationship with food and the ways you can help someone suffering recover from their battle.

Awareness

There are different forms of eating disorders and varying degrees of each. The three most common eating disorders and the behavior associated are:

  1. Anorexia: Severely restricting calories, not eating at all, and going to extreme lengths to suppress their appetite.
  2. Bulimia: Purging after eating or binging by forced vomiting, laxatives, or enemas. Someone with bulimia might also excessively exercise or fast to compensate for the food they consumed.
  3. Binge Eating: Eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time during periods where they feel out of control. 

Symptoms of an eating disorder:

  • Chapped lips
  • Gray-toned skin
  • Low energy
  • Hair loss
  • Dental erosions
  • Low blood pressure and pulse
  • Muscular injuries and pain from excessive exercise
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Fainting spells
  • Irritability and aggravation
  • Frequent upper respiratory infections
  • Chronic constipation or gastrointestinal problems
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Overall poor health

Someone who is battling an eating disorder usually doesn’t change their behavior once they start to show physical signs of the disorder. In fact, these adverse effects can appear as “progress” for them and encourage or motivate their unhealthy actions.

Helping

The sooner you step in and help someone with an eating disorder, the better their chances are of recovery. Because it’s a sensitive topic that can be met with denial, it’s essential to approach the subject from a loving angle.

Understand that opening this conversation will require patience, understanding, and unwavering support moving forward. 

A doctor’s visit is a good place to start to determine any medical issues or mental health conditions. Based on their individual needs, a healthcare provider can suggest the proper therapy, medical treatment, nutritional counseling, or help needed to recover.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, we urge you to ask for help. Wylie ER offers liver panel tests, treatment for injuries due to frail bones or exercising, and IV medications and fluids to help with weakness or fainting.

For immediate assistance, can also contact the National Eating Disorder Helpline at 800-931-2237.

Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Wylie ER and Nutex Health state no content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.


Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on Wylie ER or any of our concierge-level medical facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.