Isn’t it good to care about the way you look and to feel healthy? Of course it is! And of course it makes sense to pay attention to your weight when you care about these things. Monitoring your weight, occasional dieting, regular exercise, and trying to be careful about what you eat are normal and healthy habits for life. Unfortunately, some teens develop unhealthy behaviors and rigid thoughts about food and weight which cause them medical problems and strong, distressing emotions – this type of attention to food and weight is significantly different from typical, healthy weight and food monitoring and might be the sign of an eating disorder.
How do you know if you have an eating disorder?
When a person has an eating disorder they have distressing emotions and rigid attitudes and behaviors toward food and eating; they have a distorted body image (they see themselves differently from the way most others do) and intense fear of gaining weight. Sadly, when you have an eating disorder, your eating habits do not help you feel good about your body or yourself. When there is an eating disorder, a person’s efforts to control weight, and their rigid rules about food end up causing physical harm and emotional distress. In fact, it’s possible for a person with an eating disorder to experience significant depression, anxiety, risk for substance abuse, and/or life threatening medical problems.
When your focus on food, exercise and weight gets out of control to the point that it takes up a large part of your time, you can’t stop thinking about it, can’t return to healthy eating habits, and gets in the way of your daily life (friends, family, school, activities), it is likely you have an eating disorder and need to ask for help. Look here for more information about the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. There are also several types of eating disorders – these include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
If you think you have an eating disorder, treatment can help. Look here to learn more about eating disorders, treatment and getting professional help.