Anorexia Nervosa is one of the most common Eating Disorders today. It’s also one of the most severe. Individuals with Anorexia experience an obsessive preoccupation with food, calories, body image, and weight. This preoccupation often leads to behaviors like extreme dieting, exercise, and self-starvation.
Anorexia Nervosa leads to serious mental health illnesses and physical ailments, including anemia, dental issues, difficulty concentrating, and extreme mood swings. Individuals might also experience comorbid Mental Health Conditions like Depression or Anxiety Disorders. Identifying early signs and symptoms of Anorexia can help patients get the professional Eating Disorder treatment they need. Read on to learn more about the top warning signs of Anorexia you should watch for.
Obsession With Food, Body Image, and Weight
Eating Disorders create an obsession over food, body image, and weight. While it’s normal to think about what you eat or what you look like—especially if you’re trying new diets or exercise routines—Eating Disorders like Anorexia turn those thoughts into an all-consuming preoccupation.
Because Anorexia symptoms tie back to an obsession with food and weight, this is one of the first warning signs individuals with Anorexia will show. However, it’s important to note that this line of thinking might not be as obvious as someone saying, “I wish I was skinny.”
Anorexia’s preoccupation with weight can develop as discussions of calorie counting, extreme dieting, or strict monitoring of food and weight loss. In fact, many Anorexia cases begin as someone taking healthy dieting techniques a step too far. For example, cutting back on added sugars turns into avoiding any food with sugar—including natural sugars like those found in fruits or dairy. It isn’t always easy to pinpoint when healthy food habits turn into unhealthy ones, but identifying that moment helps patients better understand and work through the thoughts and behaviors behind their Eating Disorders.
Fear of Being or Looking Overweight
A lot of Anorexia’s obsession with food stems from a fear of being overweight. Unfortunately, individuals with Anorexia struggle to maintain a clear and objective view of their bodies. As a result, you might see perfectly healthy numbers on a scale but still feel overweight when you look in a mirror or see yourself in photos.
What you see when you look at yourself isn’t always an indicator of what other people see—or what is healthy. Therefore, Anorexia leads to unhealthy weight loss that can endanger physical health for the individual. Even if you’re at an objectively healthy weight, the fear of appearing overweight motivates dangerous behaviors or self-destructive tendencies like self-starvation or excessive exercise such as binge exercising.
Following Unhealthy Diet Myths or Habits
As with all things, a healthy diet requires balance. Unhealthy diet myths or behaviors destroy that balance and lead to nutrient deficiencies and other health complications. Many behaviors associated with Anorexia revolve around extreme or unhealthy dieting behaviors. One common example is avoiding an entire food group, such as carbohydrates and fruits, rather than cutting back on certain foods to create a more balanced diet.
Finding Excuses To Not Eat
For many people with Anorexia, the simplest way to cut back on calories and lose weight is to avoid eating as much as possible. As a result, one of the most common warning signs of Anorexia to watch for is creating excuses to avoid meals.
These excuses might include saying that you’re not hungry even though you are or claiming that you already ate so you don’t have to sit through a meal with others. Alternatively, you might change your routine to skip meals entirely. For example, you might work through lunch and claim it’s for productivity’s sake when you’re actually avoiding eating during the day.
Similarly, many individuals with Anorexia start avoiding hangouts with friends that include food. This avoidance might mean skipping brunches, dinner parties, and other social outings. In addition to the dangers of self-starvation, these behaviors cut you off from loved ones and lead to isolation, exacerbating Eating Disorders and other Mental Health Illnesses.
Extreme or Unhealthy Exercise Schedules
Many symptoms of Anorexia revolve around food and dieting, but exercise is also a big concern for patients. Having an unhealthy exercise schedule is particularly common in men, who are more likely to turn to activities like weightlifting or bodybuilding to lose weight.
However, like with dieting, Anorexia turns exercising into unhealthy and often outright dangerous behavior. Pairing an extreme exercise routine with a strict diet or self-starvation prevents you from getting the energy and nutrients you need to keep up with the activity.
It’s important to note that individuals with Anorexia exercise out of a desire to reach an ideal body that is often unhealthy or impossible to maintain. Because of this, exercise routines often neglect crucial habits like stretching, resting sore muscles, or following proper techniques to avoid physical injuries.
Avoiding Friends and Activities
Anorexia turns calories, food, exercise, and weight into all-consuming obsessions. As a result, things that used to make you feel happy or fulfilled—such as spending time with friends or enjoying your hobbies—fall by the wayside. This obsession leads to isolation, a lack of stimulation, and other symptoms that worsen Anorexia. Moreover, these challenges can worsen or cause other Mental Health Disorders that often go hand in hand with Eating Disorders, including Anxiety, Depression, and Addictions.
Hiding Dramatic Weight Loss
People with Anorexia often bundle up under multiple layers of clothing regardless of the weather outside. While this isn’t always a symptom of an Eating Disorder, there are several reasons why individuals with Anorexia are self-conscious, insecure with their body image, and behave in extreme ways.
You might be trying to conceal how much you weigh due to self-consciousness and a fear of looking overweight. On the other hand, some individuals with Anorexia might hide beneath layers of clothing, attempting to conceal unhealthy weight loss. In more severe cases, the weight loss associated with Anorexia can lead to poor circulation and a lower body temperature, leading to patients bundling up under extra layers of clothing.
What To Do When You Notice Warning Signs
The earlier you notice the signs of Anorexia Nervosa, the easier it is to seek professional help. If you have a problem with Anorexia or other Eating Disorders, consider working with a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who can create an effective treatment plan using evidence-based therapies.
When you’re ready to see a Licensed Clinical Psychologist for Eating Disorder treatment, turn to Blair Wellness Group. Dr. Blair and her professional team of experts have experience in treating Anorexia and other Mental Health Disorders. If you are searching for interventions and therapies in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Century City, Brentwood, Westwood, Irvine, Newport, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Dana Point, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, and Orange County areas. Reach out to Blair Wellness Group today to start your journey toward a healthier, happier life.