Often well hidden by people who suffer from them, eating disorders can be identified using several clues. Dietitian-nutritionist, Alexandra Murcier presents these signs that could lead you to believe that your loved one is suffering from TCA.
The origin of TCAs can be varied. These disorders can develop when a person goes through a difficult time in their life. However, they can also be linked to genetic factors.
Your loved one exercises excessively
Exercising a lot can be a sign of an eating disorder. According to nutritionist Alexandra Murcier: “UNo one who suffers from eating disorders engages in physical activity that dictates their decisions in everyday life. For example, this is the case for some anorexic people who walk a lot during their day in order to lose weight. It is not a question of doing sport to do yourself good, to clear your mind, but really to compensate for the food ingested.“.
Your loved one counts their calories
To lose weight, simply eat less than you spend. So, to achieve their goal and get their bearings, many people count their calories. However, this method represents a risk because it can quickly turn into an obsession and counting calories before eating then becomes another sign that your loved one is suffering from TCA. The nutritionist explains: “A person with ED is anxious about eating so they count their calories when preparing meals to keep everything under control.“.
Your loved one is abandoning their social life
Another sign is that your loved one is restricting their social life. Indeed, according to Alexandra Murcier: “PFor fear of gaining weight, he will refuse certain invitations, to restaurants for example. If he goes there, he feels guilty for having hurt or eating too much.”. Gradually, his obsession with food causes him to lose his decision-making freedom. The person avoids meals with family or friends that would force them to eat “bad” foods in large quantities. If she participates in these meals, she will tend to ask for healthy foods or even try to convert those close to her to her lifestyle, which she judges to be more balanced. So, by fleeing these types of moments, the risk is that your loved one will withdraw into themselves and develop more anxiety or even disorders such as depression.
Your loved one has dysmorphophobia
Dysmorphophobia refers to not seeing yourself as you really are, and in a negative way. According to the nutritionist: “This happens for example when you have lost a lot of weight but you don’t realize it.. A person suffering from TCA is constantly and excessively concerned about their image and their weight, accentuating their perception of their faults, without really realizing the reality. This negative vision can then affect his behavior.
Your loved one wants to get food out of their body at all costs
Whether it is by making themselves vomit or using laxatives, your loved one is obsessed with the idea of getting rid of the food they have ingested and to do this they opt for drastic methods. To do this, he/she can implement strategies to conceal these practices. In this case, your loved one is a victim of bulimia.
Your loved one needs to eat to manage their emotions
Food also allows the person suffering from an eating disorder to manage their emotions. It is not a question of eating to meet a physiological need but rather to meet an emotional need, with the aim of soothing a negative emotion such as sadness, anger or stress. Food can then allow your loved one to comfort themselves.
Your loved one eats urgently, uncontrollably
In addition to eating according to their emotions, your loved one needs to do so urgently and uncontrollably. According to expert Alexandra Murcier: “We can talk about hyperphagia attacks, which consists of eating in very large quantities, without feeling satiety; or binge eating, which results in the need to eat a lot in a very short period of time, with or without vomiting. It is also possible that your loved one fears these crises and that this feeling increases their anxiety..
Your loved one weighs themselves frequently
Your loved one needs to have control over their weight. He therefore weighs himself daily, or even several times a day. The scale becomes an obsessive and addictive tool for him instead of being simply functional. Weighing yourself can cause your loved one to feel ashamed or angry when the number does not meet the goal they had set for themselves. In addition, he may develop anxiety at the idea that the weight could rise again, accompanied by negative self-judgment by telling himself that he is incapable and that he could have done better.
Weighing yourself so often is far from a healthy habit, especially because weight is not indicative of someone’s good health and several bodies at the same weight will not necessarily look the same.
Your loved one no longer has their period
“For a woman, amenorrhea is a clear sign that she is probably suffering from eating disorders., specifies Alexandra Murcier. Indeed, the absence of periods can occur due to calorie restriction, frequent vomiting, intensive sports practice, a high level of stress or even deficiencies. However, not all people with anorexia systematically suffer from amenorrhea, and as we have seen, it is far from being the only indicator revealing an eating disorder.
What can you do to help a loved one who suffers from eating disorders?
According to nutritionist Alexandra Murcier: “PTo help a person with EDs, you have to relieve them of guilt and talk to them about it without making comparisons or judgments. You should definitely not force her to eat! The best way to help him is to refer him to a competent healthcare professional quickly. In fact, we must avoid chronicizing a pathology because once it is established, it is even more difficult to stop it.”.