It’s not a phase or lifestyle choice, eating disorders are real health conditions that impact people for life. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, twenty million women and ten million men in the United States suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life. Eating disorders impact mental and physical health and affect people of every race, gender, and culture. Unfortunately, only one in ten people who suffer from eating disorders receive treatment. Going untreated can lead to life long side effects like heart and gallbladder disease in binge eating disorder patients and muscle and hair loss in anorexia nervosa patients. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, with one person in the US dying as a result every 62 minutes. However, patients should never lose hope because recovery is possible.
Often times you may not even know if someone around you is battling an eating disorder. A few signs to look for are: social media posts only relating to weight and exercise, dramatic weight loss in a short period of time, obsession with counting calories, obsession with exercise, low self-esteem, insomnia, hair loss, and vague or secretive eating habits. While everyone’s road to recovery is unique, seeking professional help is vital. Asking for help can be intimidating, but there are ways to help someone you care about. Reaching out in private is a great first step. Most people don’t want to discuss their health struggles in public, so make sure it’s a comfortable and private setting. Never make assumptions or blame the person who is struggling, instead observe, ask, and listen. Offering to go to an appointment with them, sending texts of encouragement, and letting them know just how much you care are all beneficial. Lastly, set a positive example. Give compliments on things other than appearances and don’t participate in negative body talk. Weight and appearance do not define self-worth. If you have questions about eating disorders or would like to make an appointment the professionals at Sage Nutrition are ready to help.