Gina Ryan, CN

For many people food has become a science, something to calculate and keep track of rather than a natural and joyful process. There is of course a place for wise and healthful choices in our meals and the planning of them. Yet when thoughs of food rule the day it is time to take a good hard look at what is going on.

For whatever your reason may be if thinking about food and your next meal or meals has become a dread you may be on your way to an abnormal relationship with food. At the extreme this can become a disorder an Eating Disorder also known as ED. Has food has finally gotten you down and you no longer look forward or even crave your favorite foods any more because you have fears or doubts about the content of everything you eat? Perhaps you have the flip side of the same coin and cannot control your eating and once you start you simply find it impossible to stop.

Eating Disorders affect approximately 5- 10 million girls and women, and 1 million boys and men in the US and are very serious left untreated. With the increase of focus on body image in men and boys now they are unfortunately are increasing in numbers very rapidly. As with most disorders the earlier the problem is detected the better.

Here is a look at some symptoms that may be cause for concern:

*Negative Self Esteem-You feel bad about yourself and feel you are not a good person.

*Negative Body Image- You think your body is disgusting and feel uncomfortable to think of people looking at you. You generally try to hide your body (wearing baggy clothing, won’t wear a bathing suit etc). You have a distorted view of how your body looks (you think it is much bigger than it really is).

*Feeling Out of Control- You feel no control over your life and actually feel food controls you. Most of your thoughts revolve around food and losing weight.

*Feeling Depressed- Sad and hopeless about your life and the future. You feel like you want to hurt yourself or die.

*Isolation- You no longer involve yourself with friends and family or activities you once enjoyed.

*Restricting Food- You eat smaller and smaller portions and you easily skip meals.

*Binging- You eat large quantities of food in a short amount of time and feel out of control of your behavior.

*Purging- You do things to get rid of the food you did eat. Examples; vomiting, laxatives, over exercising.

Another difficulty with food is Emotional Eating and again this can be a risk factor in developing an eating disorder.

The above symptoms do not necessarily mean you have an eating disorder, it may mean you are at risk for developing an eating disorder and getting help early may make the difference.

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