Woman eating tiny bites of salad struggling with the early stages of an eating disorder

Identifying an Eating Disorder in Its Earliest Stages

Eating disorders are serious mental health issues that can cause significant distress and detriment to a person’s physical and emotional well-being. It is essential for those experiencing any of the early signs of an eating disorder to seek professional help quickly. Knowing more about the early stages of an eating disorder can help you or someone you love get treatment and start the path toward wellness. 

At Recovery Ranch in Tennessee, our team of skilled mental health professionals offers specialized treatment for clients struggling with eating disorders. With early intervention and comprehensive treatment tailored to each individual’s needs, we help clients live healthier lives. Contact us today at 1.844.876.7680 to learn more about our mental health treatment center and how we can lead you toward health and wellness. 

Early Signs of an Eating Disorder

In the early stages of an eating disorder, trouble can be challenging to detect. Identifying the early signs of a problem can improve recovery outcomes if you suspect you or someone you love has an eating disorder. Though anorexia and bulimia are different, they share many of the following indicators. 

Food Obsession

The first sign of a problem often involves an obsessive preoccupation with food. Those with an eating disorder will suddenly begin treating food as if it were an enemy, becoming very calorie-conscious and rejecting things they ate willingly in the past. They may keep adding items to their taboo list until the menu of things they want to eat becomes narrow. 

Unlike those who begin cutting junk foods, sweets, and other nutritionally-empty products from their diets, however, fledgling anorexics and bulimia sufferers will tend to compile eccentric lists of what they will or won’t consume. In some cases, junk foods may predominate over more healthy choices. 

Eating disorder victims can also begin showing deception or secretive food-related behavior. Binge eating is one defining characteristic of bulimia. If foods start mysteriously disappearing from refrigerators, candy bowls, or cookie jars without explanation, this can indicate that something more than just ordinary snacking is happening. Those with anorexia, on the other hand, may fill their plates with average amounts of food at meal times, only to end up throwing much of it in the garbage when they think no one is looking. 

Distorted Body Image

Those who develop eating disorders tend to be dissatisfied with their appearance and cannot accurately assess it. Even after losing weight, they may remain convinced that they are overweight and frequently express these sentiments to others. Later, once they realize that their behavior is raising suspicions, they will become more reticent. 

In the case of anorexia, excessive weight loss is the most significant symptom of the disorder. However, in the initial stages of the disease, the victim’s weight loss may be relatively modest. 

Emotional Instability

Those caught in the downward cycle of an eating disorder will undergo personality changes evident to all who know them well. Some indicators that often accompany the onset of anorexia or bulimia include:

  • Irritability
  • Over-sensitivity to criticism
  • Perfectionism
  • Compulsiveness
  • Depression
  • Unprovoked anxiety
  • A desire to be alone 

If any of these personality characteristics manifest simultaneously as a food obsession or a distorted body image, there is unquestionably a reason to be concerned. 

Seek Eating Disorder Treatment at The Ranch

If you or someone you know exhibits any early signs of an eating disorder, it is vital to get help immediately. Recovery Ranch in Tennessee provides specialized mental health treatment for those struggling with eating disorders and other addictions. Our experienced care team and evidence-based treatments help individuals achieve healthy lives. Contact us today at 1.844.876.7680 or complete our brief online form to begin your path toward recovery.

Scroll to Top