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How do you know if you have an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders currently affect approximately 25 million Americans, in which approximately 25% are male. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate among all psychological disorders and overall eating disorders can cause serious health problems that can be fatal, frequently co-occurring with substance use disorders. Gadalla and Piran found that women with either a substance use disorder or an eating disorder were more than four times as likely to develop the other disorder as were women who had neither disorder. Gilchrist and colleagues examined the co-occurrence of eating disorders and substance use disorders and reported that 14% of women with a substance use disorder had Anorexia and 14% had Bulimia (SAHMSA; Clients With Substance Use And Eating Disorders, February 2011, Volume 10, Issue 1).

If you suspect that you or your child have an eating disorder the check list below will help you be clearer. Check honestly the statements that apply to you:

  • I constantly think about food, weight and body image

  • I have difficulties concentrating because my thoughts are

  • I worry about what my last meal is doing to my body

  • When I eat I feel guilty and ashamed

  • I count the calories and fat grams I consume when I eat or drink

  • I feel “out of control” when I’m around food

  • I binge eat twice a week or more

  • I still feel “fat” when others tell me I’m thin

  • I’m obsessed about the shape and size of some parts of my body

  • I weigh myself several times a day

  • I exercise to lose weight even when I’m ill or injured

  • I feel guilty if I don’t exercise

  • I vomit after eating or use other behaviors to get rid of the food

  • I label food as “good” or “bad”

  • I use laxatives or diuretics to maintain my weight low

  • I skip meals and severely limit my food intake

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your attitudes and behavior around food and your body may need to be seriously addressed. Please know that help is available. An eating disorder professional can help you understand the causes and treatment of eating disorders, give you honest feedback and advice about the next right step you need to take. Eating disorders are treatable and full recovery is possible!

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