How To Spot An Eating Disorder

Published: 18th November 2019

Bodyline Clinic are huge advocates of losing weight in a way that is sustainable and healthy for both the body and mind. As any provider of weight loss treatments, we are hyper aware of how someone’s desire to lose weight can impact their mental health and because of this, we aim to educate not just our team but our clients too on the warning signs that your weight loss journey may be negatively impacting your mental wellbeing.

Eating Disorders are unfortunately very common and there are various types of eating disorders that people can suffer with but today’s blog is about spotting the early signs of eating disorders in both yourself and your friends to help try and avoid these negative thoughts and behaviours spiralling out of control.

Unhealthy Obsession with Body Shape/Weight

It is important to remember that there are sometimes no physical signs of an eating disorder as those suffering come in all shapes and sizes and it is often behaviours that are the tell-tale signs, opposed to things you can physically see.

One key sign that someone may be suffering with some kind of eating problem is an obsession with not just their own body shape and weight but others too, often comparing themselves to people with different shapes/weights they deem to be ‘better’.

This can be over regular weighing and measuring of themselves, constantly talking negatively about their body, consistently talking about how their body is not as attractive as other people’s.

We offer weekly weigh-ins for our clients here at The Bodyline Clinic and do not recommend clients weigh themselves at home alongside this. All scales are slightly different which can lead to inconsistencies and weighing yourself more regularly than once a week can become obsessive.

Eating Too Much or Not Enough

One of the most common ways to tell if someone is struggling with an eating disorder is irregular eating patterns for them.

Everyone’s eating habits vary, so you can’t compare the way someone eats to the way you eat, it has to be a way of eating that is uncommon for them. This may be eating too much or not enough, this may present itself as a colleague who appears to never have lunch anymore or a family member who has started eating excessively during one meal and then not eating again. 

It is important to not just question someone on this. Take your time to ensure this is a consistent change in the way they eat before approaching someone and ensure you are sensitive and considerate when speaking to them

Excessively Exercising

Eating disorders aren’t always noticeable by eating habits but by the way people exercise too.

People with eating disorders will often try to control weight gain in many different ways, including exercising excessively to burn calories, so this too can be a sign that someone is struggling with their eating.

If someone appears to become suddenly obsessed with the gym or another type of exercise, putting off other plans to go and exercise, spending more time exercising than anything else, this may be a sign that they have developed an unhealthy addiction to burning calories and losing weight.

As with the change in eating habits, this isn’t something to confront someone about forcefully and gentle conversations are a much better approach.

Strict Routines/Habits Surrounding Food

When someone starts dieting to lose weight, getting good habits/routines with food is often part of that journey but for someone with an eating disorder, these habits and routines can become an obsession and something they can not be flexible with or have a day off from.

This may be weighing foods to a certain measurement, eating at certain times, only eating certain foods and never anything else. If you are concerned someone in your life has developed obsessive behaviours surrounding how, what and when they eat, we recommend keeping notes of these behaviours for a matter of weeks before broaching the subject.

By doing this, you can be sure you have a valid reason to be concerned. To be considered unhealthy habits, an individual would tend to be absolutely obsessed and have an adverse reaction if they can’t stick to these, such as getting upset or angry.

Making Themselves Sick or Taking Laxatives

This may be part of someone’s eating disorder that you never actually see but there are some signs that someone you know may be making themselves sick or taking laxatives in order to lose weight.

A common sign that someone is doing these kinds of things is that they disappear as soon as they have eaten. This may be for 5 minutes or half an hour but it usually happens every time they have eaten, so as with everything we have mentioned above, observing someone for a period of time before approaching them is key to not upsetting or offending the individual.

Eating disorders are very sensitive topics and are always best dealt with by medical professionals. As well as friends, family and your GP, there are also charities who offer advice and support such as BEAT, the UK’s eating disorder charity.

The Bodyline Clinic take all of our clients’ mental health as seriously as their physical health and encourage any of our clients who feel they are struggling with their weight loss journey to talk to their dedicated nurse when they are in clinic. 

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