Knowing the Early Signs of an Eating Disorder

The perfect hair, makeup, skin, body shape….all the things society and the media focus so much attention on and for many individuals can lead to negative, self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors.

Each day millions of people fight a horrible monster called “Ed” which affects the brain and destroys a person’s body and is sometimes even fatal.  This creature we call “Ed” is actually an Eating Disorder, and it doesn’t matter if a person restricts food, binges on food, or purges food, because it is all the same to Ed.

As most people associate an Eating Disorder with vanity, it really goes much deeper than just looks or body image.  At its core an Eating Disorder is an addiction just like alcoholism, gambling, or even a cell phone.  A person engages in an Eating Disorder for one reason only and that is to achieve the effect they get when they engage which is to say it numbs the body, and it’s that simple.

Everyone experiences emotions/thoughts/feelings each day of which they don’t like or they want to get rid of, and for a person with an Eating Disorder they do this by restricting, purging, or bingeing via food.  For a person with an Eating Disorder, food is their drug of choice – just as alcohol is to an alcoholic.

But people beware because all the “vanity” feed around us can actually set off or trigger an Eating Disorder in some people and you never know if you are one of those people or not.

The early signs of an Eating Disorder include:

  • Eating more/less food than usual
  • Hiding food
  • Eating in private
  • Skipping meals
  • Making excuses for not eating meals
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Obsessive exercise
  • Relentless focus on body image

For a person with an Eating Disorder, when they look at their body in a mirror, they see a very distorted figure of themselves, it’s almost as if they are looking in one of those fun house mirrors at the fair. Individuals battling an Eating Disorder see their body much differently than it actually is.

By getting help and following treatment, the Eating Disorder patient will learn how to recognize their emotions/thoughts/feelings when they occur and more importantly how to handle them in the right way.  An Eating Disorder is not all about the food, nor is it all about a person’s shape, size, or hair color… Not at all.  Anyone who feels out of control with their eating, rather it be too little or too much, needs help and the sooner the better.

Fortunately that is where St. Bernards Counseling Center Eating Disorders Program comes in as a means of treatment, full recovery and getting back your life.

I am Keena Reddin, a Licensed Certified Social Worker who is specifically trained in the assessment, treatment and recovery of Eating Disorders.  For the past seven years, I have diagnosed and treated many individuals being of different shape/size, age and gender, and each having their own unique personal story. By using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), as the primary evidenced-based approach, I teach my Ed friends how to live better lives by not being afraid and, most importantly, being their true self.

Each time I assess a patient, I always tell them I look forward to meeting them after treatment for the person in front of me at that moment is not the real person they have in their body – It is the monster we call Ed.  By implementing the DBT approach, incorporating meal plans, and applying skills, an Ed patient learns how to eat normally, and, most importantly, how to live an Ed-free life.

For more information about the Eating Disorder Treatment program at St. Bernards, please call 870.930.9090.

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