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With eating disorders, there are a few symptoms and actions that are talked about quite frequently, such as weight loss, purging, and food restriction. However, there are many more habits and symptoms that aren’t so commonly discussed which may lead to sufferers feeling alone and that they are dealing with something no one else is.
1. Hair Loss
With almost any big change in the body, your hair reacts by shedding in high amounts. This often gets portrayed in rapid weight loss, gain, or malnutrition. At times the hair loss can be so great that the sufferer is left with bald patches. Even when eating correctly the hair will grow back unevenly due to the previous loss.
2. Tooth Decay
Although it is often talked about when it comes to erosion due to stomach acid, it is not discussed that tooth decay is also associated with calorie-restricting eating disorders that do not partake in self-induced vomiting. Malnutrition, a result of restricting, can increase dry mouth which in turn causes tooth decay.
3. Body Dysmorphia
While eating disorders start from a sense of control, it can often make the sufferer want to lose weight because they believe they will feel better when they reach a certain point. The disorder often changes the sufferers perception so that they look larger to themselves than they are perceived by other people. Thus why they feel they look healthy when people around them see them as obviously emaciated. This also explains why they might think they are much larger than someone that is the same size as them.
4. Body Checking
While many people will look at themselves in a passing window or check their body in the mirror, this item on the checklist ties in more with body dysmorphia. Body checking is an issue of checking your body over and over again and often taking many photos because you can’t believe the person in the mirror is you and to compare and see if you are losing weight. This practice can happen almost daily and sometimes for hours.
5. Brittle Nails
As with hair loss, finger nails are often a telltale sign of when a person is malnourished. They become thin, brittle, and often develop ridges along the nail. They are also likely to break off painfully and often as they have no strength to them. They may also become discolored if the sufferer uses their fingers to induce vomiting.
When your body is malnourished, it stores up any energy it receives and uses as little energy as possible in order to make what it has last longer, thus making you constantly tired. This also makes it hard to think clearly and increases bad mood and depression. Tiredness can also be brought on by cycling through bingeing and purging.
7. Different Types of Purging
On that note, it is not commonly discussed that purging includes more habits than just self-induced vomiting. Other examples include: taking diet pills or laxatives, over-exercising, excessive periods of fasting, etc. Many sufferers may believe they aren’t actually bulimic and in turn don’t need help because these other forms of purging are so rarely discussed.
8. Chewing and Spitting
Another habit that is not frequently talked about is the act of chewing and spitting. This habit includes chewing a bite of food but then spitting it out instead of swallowing it. This can include a few bites to sessions lasting hours long.
9. Picky Eating
With many eating disorders, the illusion of having control may extend to control over what types of food they eat. This may be perceived to the public for picky eating because of the avoidance of types of food for seemingly no reason. Avoided food may follow a trend of a certain thing they regard as bad to randomly chosen fear foods.
10. Heart Disease
Malnutrition, low body fat percentage, stress from over exercising, or stress from self-induced vomiting can put a strain on the heart that can lead to heart disease that often results in death.