FOOD OBSESSION DANGER SIGNS
In our dieting-obsessed culture, many of the behaviours listed below may be accepted as normal. The question is whether they have become obsessive and whether failure to stick to these self-imposed controls results in a disproportionate sense of guilt and failure. If you think that you may fit into this category, seek help without delay, as you may have the beginnings of an eating disorder.
• Being obsessed with the fat and calorie content of every food.
• Restricting food intake to a certain number of calories each day.
• Eliminating most fats from the diet.
• Giving up your favourite foods because they can make you fat.
• Eating the same low-calorie, low-fat foods, over and over again.
• Skipping meals to make up for over-eating at a previous meal.
• Finishing meals before you feel full and satisfied.
• Denying yourself food, even when you are hungry.
A person suffering from an eating disorder commonly experiences a distorted body image. A combination of psychological and physical factors may cause an individual to hate her body and to have such an intense fear of fat that she develops disruptive eating behaviour, such as vomiting and fasting.
SIGNS OF EATING DISORDERS
By the time a full-blown eating disorder has developed, some of the signs will usually be quite apparent to those close to the sufferer. Like alcoholics, however, anorexics and bulimics are often secretive and very adept at concealing their extreme behaviour. Signs include:
• A marked increase or decrease in weight that is not related to a medical condition.
• The development of abnormal eating habits such as obsessive dieting; preference for strange foods; withdrawn or ritualized behaviour at mealtimes; or secretive bingeing.
• An intense pre-occupation with weight and body image.
• Excessive exercising.
• Self-induced vomiting; periods of fasting; abuse of laxatives, diet pills or diuretics.
• Feelings of isolation, depression or irritability.
Eating Disorder Treatment
An individual who seeks help for an eating disorder should be treated with counselling that addresses both the psychological and nutritional issues.
A counsellor will try to establish the underlying causes of the individual’s negative attitude to food and weight, as well as encouraging her to adopt a healthier approach to eating.