Is this an eating disorder?
It can be difficult to identify when someone has developed (or is on their way towards developing) an eating disorder.
Often, when people are in the early stages of an eating disorder, they will feel reluctant to talk about their issues, or to seek help. This may be because the person feels ashamed, embarrassed, or guilty about their eating and exercise behaviours, or that they deny there is a problem. However, they might visit a heath professional for related issues, such as irregular menstruation, feeling ‘run down’, or complaining of gastrointestinal problems or self-diagnosed food allergies or bloating. Unfortunately, not talking specifically about the dieting, eating or exercise problems can increase the chance of misdiagnosis or unwarranted medical investigations.
When health professionals are exploring whether or not someone has an eating disorder, they will commonly consider the person’s individual temperament, their life experiences, their behaviours (dieting, eating and exercise behaviours), their family history, their general mental and physical health and the physical and psychological symptoms associated with eating disorders.
Parents/carers and friends who are worried that someone they care about has an eating disorder are usually right.