Everyone has heard of the term Anorexia Nervosa, but few know what is and how to spot it. Anorexia Nervosa is a mental disease that has affected millions of men and women, including me. I am a survivor of this disease and many others that I obtained while having this mental monstrosity. For the longest time I was ashamed of the label “anorexic” because people would look at me like I was a strange species. I wasn’t considered human at that point, but a human trapped in a monster’s body. This disease is a silent killer that will own thousands of bodies every year, and as a survivor I feel compelled to share my insights of how to spot the warning signs so your mom, friend, sister, brother won’t be taken from this.
Warning signs the initial stages:
Often the initial stages are not seen as harmful because they start with good intentions of getting on the right track and being a healthier you. This stage is normal and should raise yellow flags but not red.
- Expressing ideas of being healthier or loosing a few pounds
- Starting to work out each day
- Constantly looking at the scale/monitoring their progress
- Rejecting their “normal” food completely
Warning signs for the “Red flag” stage:
This stage is a big warning that the disease is developing. It is where you will start seeing most of the obsessive attributes of the disease. The person will start becoming obsessive or controlling over their habits and food, this is where the red flags should start popping up.
- Constantly looking in the mirrors assessing their body with harsh and critical critique
- Increasing the time, they workout each day
- Obsessing over the scale and number
- Eating smaller portions and timing out their food intake
- Not eating enough according to their activity level
- Eating low calorie, sugar free, fat free foods on a more than regular basis
- Obsessing over how the food is prepared, the type of oil/butter used and how much
- Not finishing a normal sized meal, leaving food on their plate
- Spreading food around the plate to make it look as if the food is eaten
Warning signs of the disease:
After the development of the disease, it will start to foster in the habits above getting increasingly more obsessed and more controlling.
- Staring at themselves in the mirror no longer assessing but making sure that they are looking skinnier or smaller
- Hiding their workouts from loved ones, doing them in secret because of the quantity that they workout
- Even after reaching their target weight or goal still obsessed with loosing 5 more or getting down just 3 more pounds (it will always be just 3 more and 3 more till there is none left to lose)
- Being anti-social, not eating at restaurants or social gatherings
- Finding excuses not to eat in front of people (because they don’t eat)
- The use of “I’m not hungry” or “I already ate before this” every time food is offered
- Only drinking water or zero calorie drinks to fill themselves
- Not letting anyone prepare their food but if they do hovering over the person preparing it to tell them they have used too much oil or too much butter. If the person doesn’t fix a separate plate for them they will experience a raging fit.
- Staring at the food on the plate but not eating it
- Being very defensive over what they eat (or don’t eat)
- Eating minimal food (usually if it’s a child the parents will make them eat) then not eating the rest.
- Sleeping most of the day to avoid eating and because energy is so low
- Being depressed, seeing themselves as fat and inadequate for society
As you can tell there are numerous signs of this eating disorder that can be perceived as “healthy habits” but there is a clear line between obsessive and healthy. Simple and daily activities can be made detrimental to your loved one’s health by this disease, that is why it is so dangerous because of the simple actions that often get overlooked. This is also why people don’t get help early on when it is easy to recover because their mentality is that they are fine and just trying to lead a healthier life. That isn’t the case, their brain is being altered to believe lied perceptions of themselves; they will get compliments and say thank you, but the disease will say “you are still fat, look at her, she isn’t skinny enough”. The disease will lie to you every day…every moment till you are no longer and the disease has control over your mind, body, and soul. I am not a doctor of any kind just a survivor that wants to raise awareness of this disease. These are the symptoms that I experienced personally and that are very common with everyone who has/had this disease. I urge you to be vigilant and recognize the signs, if you know anyone who may have this then intervene and have a talk with them! If they get very defensive and still experience rapid weight loss then admit them, they will initially express hatred but soon after they will realize that it’s for their best interest. The hate you may experience is not from the person but from the disease. I know it sounds silly but trust me it’s a monster that takes over the mind. Remember you are beautiful and wonderfully made!