Proud2Bme | 5 Signs That Someone You Love Might Have an Eating Disorder

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5 Signs That Someone You Love Might Have an Eating Disorder

By Kaitlyn Oberg--For many, the holiday season is a source of great joy, bringing merriment and indulgence after a long and trying year. But for many others, the holiday season brings anxiety and even dread.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 3% of teens suffer from an eating disorder. The kicker? Most of those who struggle do not receive treatment. This statistic can include friends, cousins, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts—and on and on the list goes. Early intervention is one of the most effective ways to help someone with an eating disorder heal, and being able to recognize the warning signs of an eating disorder is a great way to intervene.

Here are some signs that a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder:

1. Refusing to eat with others

Oftentimes, eating disorders are cloaked in secrecy. If your best friend is gradually refusing to eat lunch with you in the cafeteria, or your sister is insisting that her holiday dinner plate be brought up to her room while she does homework, there may be cause for concern.

2. Fear, anger or anxiety around eating

If your friend gets wide-eyed and panicky when you surprise them with a cupcake for her birthday, or they seem uneasy picking at their lunch, there’s a chance that there is something deeper going on inside.

3. Constant talk regarding their bodies and body image

As the eating disorder takes hold of the brain, the drive to alter the body becomes increasingly strong. When it comes to someone with whom you spend an extensive amount of time, their obsession may begin to leak over into everyday conversation.

4. Unexplained missing food

If you live with someone you suspect has an eating disorder, you may begin to notice food goes missing in a way that can’t be explained. You may also notice wrappers and packaging from food you’ve never seen before in the trash. Your loved one may or may not deny that it was them in the first place.

5. Unexplained changes in weight

This one is tricky, because someone can very well be sick without having any changes in weight. However, if your friend or loved one has experienced a dramatic weight loss or weight gain, you may want to speak with them in an open, caring way, to find out if this is a symptom of a deeper problem.

As with anything, it’s important to talk with your friend or loved one before accusing them of anything. Talk to them first, using “I” statements like “I’ve noticed you seem a little withdrawn” or “I am very worried about your health.” Recognizing warning signs is the first step of the battle in getting help for those in need, and one of the best ways we can ensure recovery for loved ones who are suffering.

What else would you add to Kaitlyn's list? Tell us in the comments below!

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.