Reality Check: Top 5 Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

With all of the diets touted in the media that promise to help you achieve your leanest, healthiest self, the road to an eating disorder is well paved. Eating disorders are mistakenly seen as only those that have people starving themselves to skeletal frames (anorexia), or binge and purge (bulimia). In fact, there are many eating disorders not otherwise specified, or EDNOS. To determine if you have an eating disorder of any scale, here are a few tips:

5 If you follow whatever new diet comes out

If you find yourself adopting the latest food fad, you’re probably listening to everyone but your own body. Listening to your body is of utmost importance to balance your weight and diet. Your body will naturally crave protein when it needs it, fruit when it needs it, and certain vegetables at certain times. Forget fads, food lists, and diets. Listen to the most important aspect of body attunement – your own body!

4 If you overeat knowing you’ll ‘work it off’

If you tend to overeat, knowing you’ll just work it off – and you do this consistently – you’re in a disordered cycle. Working out should be a positive addition to a healthy lifestyle, not an eraser for bad habits. Eat well, without overeating, and you won’t feel the need to work out intensely. Just be balanced, and you won’t feel the need to overdo either food or exercise.

3 If you have a ‘Banned Foods’ list

Just as in the second point, banned foods will create anxiety when you are exposed to them. Banned foods are generally processed and fatty. Toss out your banned foods list and just listen to your body. If you want a cookie, make a healthier version. If you can’t, just have a cookie if you actually want it. If it is banned, you’ll feel you have to have it even if you don’t really want it. If it’s allowed, you’ll eat less of it and experience little to no anxiety around it.

2 If you feel controlled by certain foods

If you feel you have to eat from a certain list of foods (i.e. salmon, berries, whole grains, fruits) and never stray, you may develop an eating disorder. This is an issue if you eat, say, a pancake, and because it’s not one of the allowed foods, you experience anxiety while eating it, and dismay afterward. Simply have a few bites of what you like, and keep your diet healthy otherwise. Always allow yourself whatever you want, but pay attention to when you actually don’t want anymore – it is usually much sooner than you would expect.

1 If you experience fear when eating

Food should never cause fear or anxiety. If a piece of cake gives you anxiety, or buffalo wings have you immediately thinking up excuses to get out of eating them, you may need to reconsider your lifestyle habits. Eating a bite of cake can be less harmful to your body than the constant anxiety you experience when it is around. Food should never have you physiologically or mentally feeling anything negative. Have a bite and move on.

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