Our relationship with food can be complicated. It is connected to our health; both our physical and emotional health. Sometimes that relationship can become one-sided, where food begins to control our lives. When this unbalance occurs in a way that dramatically affects our daily life, it is called an eating disorder.
I care about you and your health. It is part of my responsibility to give you information in case you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder.
Eating disorders can be very serious. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It can cause damage to your vital organs, and cause heart failure. 30 million people in the US suffer from an eating disorder. Every 62 minutes, someone dies as a result of an eating disorder.
How Do I Know if I Have an Eating Disorder?
Here are some signs:
Many of us occasionally “binge” on unhealthy foods, then feel guilty afterward. This can be a normal thing. It is a red flag if afterward you:
- Purge; either by forcing yourself to vomit or by using laxatives. Neither of these are healthy ways to treat your body.
- Feel that you need to punish yourself: either emotionally, by using abusive and shaming self-talk, or physically through self-harm or excessive exercise.
Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are a healthy part of life and growing. If you participate in any of the abusive behaviors above, you may have an eating disorder and should seek help.
It is normal and healthy to be aware of what your daily caloric intake should be and keep track of what you are eating, especially if you are trying to lose weight. It is a red flag if you:
- Obsessively record your incoming and outgoing calories, to the point that it consumes your thoughts and your life.
- Consume less than 1200 calories a day, or more than 500 calories less than your suggested caloric intake (unless you are in a weight loss program under the direction of a physician).
- Immediately exercise to offset the calories you just ate, or participate in purging (vomiting or laxatives) to get rid of eaten calories.
Knowing how many calories you should eat, and the basic number of calories of foods is healthy and good for you. If you participate in any of the behaviors above, you may have an eating disorder and should seek help.
Many of us work to lose excess weight to improve our health and self-image. It is a red flag if:
- People are always telling you that you are too skinny, but you still think you need to lose weight, or are still actively trying to lose weight.
- You are within a healthy weight range, but still want to lose “a little more”
- You feel disgusted at your appearance, and feel shame every time you eat.
- You are preoccupied with your weight, weighing yourself several times a day.
- You hide food, lie about food, or refuse to eat in front of other people.
- You always feel weak, pass out frequently, or no longer menstruate.
- You have intense or paralyzing fear or anxiety about re-gaining weight you lost, or gaining weight in general.
If you have any of the issues above, especially if you have several of them, you may have an eating disorder and should seek help.
- If food, dieting, weight loss, or exercise are consuming your thoughts and your life to the point that you do little else, or feel incapacitated from living.
- If you have had thoughts about not wanting to live anymore, because the burden is too great.
- If you feel constantly down, depressed, anxious or have a hard time getting out of bed during the day.
- If you have feelings of self-loathing connected to your weight, appearance or eating habits.
If you have any of the issues above, you should seek help.
If you have any of these problems, please get some help. I will always be here to love and support you in your health journey. I want you to be happy and healthy, inside and out. Sometimes that’s not enough, and you need help that I cannot give you. Some people around you might think this is weakness and jump on you, saying “See? I told you the LFRV lifestyle is bad for you!” Do not listen. Asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness, it is always a sign of strength. Seek out a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. You might need to try out a few therapists until you find the right one for you.
Overall, remember to love yourself. Even through mistakes and mess-ups and ugliness. If you struggle to love yourself and recognize that this is a journey, surround yourself with those who will help you achieve self-love, including professionals.
Even if the calculator says so, no one should ever take in less than 1200 calories a day, unless under the supervision of a doctor.