OH! Magazine - Australian Version December 2018 - Page 38

( HEALTH ) 5 SIGNS OF DISORDERED EATING Sarah Rav explains how to recognise signs of an eating disorder. ating disorders manifest in many ways, and in some cases, they can be potentially life-threatening. If an eating disorder progresses for too long, the sufferer may be so devoid of nutrients that their brain physiologically cannot recover from the disordered way of thinking that has been hardwired into its electrical circuits. This is why early intervention is important and vital in promoting recovery. E Unfortunately, as with many mental illnesses, disordered eating often presents itself without physical symptoms in the early stages. Hence why I’m sharing five non-physical signs that may indicate a loved one may benefit from you reaching out to them. If so, approach them in a gentle and caring manner. Instead of being accusatory, let them know that you are coming from a place of concern. Offer your support and encourage them to seek professional help. 1. Secretive behaviour surrounding food Your loved one may start to avoid questions or discussion surrounding food, such as ‘What did you have for lunch?’ They may become defensive if you make comments about their meals being ‘not enough’ or ‘extremely healthy’. Ultimately, this may result in them refusing to eat meals with friends or family at all and instead, they may begin to eat meals by themselves (if they eat at all). 2. Obsessive routines Your loved one may begin to get extremely fixated on their daily routine. They may refuse to eat any earlier or later than the set times they have planned. They may do 38 OH! MAGAZINE ( DECEMBER 2018 ) everything in their power to ensure that they workout at the time that they set. Any disruption to their routine may send them into a completely anxious state. They may also develop obsessive rituals, such as eating with only a specific set of cutlery or on a specific plate. 3. Social isolation and withdrawal This commonly occurs because your loved one fears lack of control over food. When I was suffering from my disease, I would refuse all invitations to go out because I was terrified by the fact I couldn’t control exactly what went into my meal, nor how many calories it contained. I would also refuse any parties or late-night events because I was scared that I would be too tired to exercise the next morning, which would result in me feeling immensely guilty and like a failure. At the time, I pretended that I was too busy with work and study to go out, so that my friends wouldn’t suspect anything. So, this can be a tricky one to spot, but do take note if your loved one begins to withdraw from activities that used to fill them with delight. 4. Reduced energy and diminished mental state Over time, due to a lack of calories, your loved one may move or speak more slowly, they may require longer times to answer questions or solve problems and they will begin to tire more easily. They may also become extremely weak. When I was severly deprived, I couldn’t even open my waterbottle or pick up an empty handbag. I was always exhausted and even after a full nine hours of sleep, I would wake up feeling even more tired than the day before. Even the thought of everyday activities, such as getting dressed or brushing my teeth filled me with dread. 5. Lack of emotion If your loved one appears depressed, apathetic or withdrawn, this may also indicate that they are truly deprived of nutrients, or are so trapped in their mental prison that they cannot allow themselves to feel any joy. When I was suffering, I can distinctly remember thinking that there was ‘nothing to be happy about’, ‘nothing worth laughing over’ and even ‘nothing to live for’. Each day was such a battle that I couldn’t focus on the positives. If you notice any of these signs within your loved one, reach out to them in a gentle and caring manner. They are in an extremely terrifying headspace and the most important thing you can do for them is provide support, listen to them and encourage them to seek help. About Sarah Rav Sarah is a 20-year-old medical student and the face behind influential Instagram page @sarahrav, who has a personal and important story to share. After suffering from anorexia nervosa and the many challenges that she faced both physically and mentally, Sarah created her Instagram page in 2012. With an incredible following of over 1.7 million on Instagram, Sarah now uses the platform to be real and raw about her own struggles and inspire others to make changes in their own lives. Sarah is currently studying Undergraduate Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne, and also runs a 12-Week Body Transformation Program available at www.fitandfiestyapp.com