February 22-28 is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “I Had No Idea,” which is focused on spreading awareness of the minor signs, symptoms, and possible causes of eating disorders.
It is important for all ENC students to be aware of the symptoms of these disorders. Many early symptoms of those who suffer from eating disorders are often overlooked or misidentified. Even the smallest symptoms left untreated can later turn into full-blown eating disorders.
Some of the early symptoms can include negative or obsessive thoughts about body image/size, excessive exercise, anxiety or fear of eating in public, or a preoccupation with counting calories.
Eating disorders come in many different types, including Anorexia Nervosa, Binge-Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, and EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).
Some symptoms of each include:
Anorexia Nervosa: inadequate food intake, leading to a weight that is too low, intense fear of gaining weight and obsession with losing weight, self-esteem that is overly tied to body image and an inability to see the severity of the situation. There are also types of this disease that include binge eating and/or purging.
Some warning signs include dramatic weight loss, refusal to eat certain foods or whole categories of foods (such as carbs), frequent comments about being fat or losing weight despite weight loss, anxiety over weight, denial of hunger, excuses for avoiding meals, and excessive exercise.
Binge-Eating Disorder: frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food without behaviors to prevent weight gain such as vomiting, a feeling of being out of control during binges, feelings of strong shame or guilt of the binge eating, and indication that the episodes are out of control such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone due to shame of the binge eating.
Bulimia Nervosa: frequent episodes of eating very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as vomiting, feeling of being out of control during binge-eating episodes and a self-esteem overly tied to body image.
Some warning signs include evidence of binge eating and purging behaviors, excessive exercise, unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area, discoloration of teeth, and calluses on the knuckles or back of the hands due to self-induced vomiting.
EDNOS: includes Anorexia Nervosa where the weight is not below normal, Bulimia Nervosa with less frequent behaviors, Binge-eating disorder with less frequent binge eating episodes, and purging without binging.
If you or a friend is struggling with an eating disorder, or think you may be struggling with an eating disorder, it is important that you get help. Please also understand that if you are a student on campus, you have classmates, professors and faculty that care deeply for you, and want to see you improve and stay healthy.
The Brickley Center on ENC’s campus is open for any student to schedule appointments with a professional. These employees are hired to help students with any issue, including eating disorders. Do not be afraid to seek help.
All symptoms and warning signs taken from the National Eating Disorder Association. For more symptoms, signs, statistics, and treatment options, please go to their website at nationaleatingdisorders.org.
If you are concerned that you may have an eating disorder, you can take an online screening at mybodyscreening.org. You can also go to the NEDA website for treatment options or the Brickley Center for help.