As you probably know, I had anorexia nervosa for about two years. And I formed so many unhealthy habits during that time. As I learned about dieting practices, I started implementing those in my life. Anorexics often think of their eating disorders as simple diets. However, from my perspective as a former anorexic, a good definition of anorexia is “a diet for someone who doesn’t need to diet.”
When I had anorexia, I was a talented dieter. I was also a very talented deceiver (which isn’t an accomplishment, by the way). Unfortunately, I am still a very talented deceiver today.
That’s why I wanted to share some warning signs of anorexia with you—because anorexia can be very easy to miss. You might think, “Oh, I could never have anorexia” or “she could never have anorexia.” But before you make such a rash judgment, see if you or those you love have exhibited these warning signs:
1. A sudden habit of saying “I lost my appetite”
Carly (a generic name here) continually claims that she lacks her appetite. She makes this claim once a week, a few times a week, or even daily. She claims that because she’s on her period, she’s not hungry. Or she claims that because she feels sick, she’s not hungry. Or she claims that because she’s anxious, she’s not hungry
2. A sudden desire to be “healthier”
Carly has a new desire to “be healthier” or “get in shape” or “become more fit.” She makes this claim every time you ask her about why she ordered workout clothes online, joined local exercise classes, bought a treadmill, or did a pantry cleansing. She always refers to the latest trends to back up her new “healthy” habits.
3. A sudden focus on “losing a few pounds”
Carly claims she doesn’t want to go on a serious diet, but she says she’d like to “lose a few pounds.” She makes this claim whenever you mention her long workouts, her frequent runs, or her purchase of an expensive scale. She also claims that her doctor okayed her to lose weight, but she doesn’t sound very convincing.
4. A sudden fondness for certain foods
Carly’s diet changes for no apparent reason. She starts buying more fruits and veggies, eating fancy salads at dinner, or consuming yogurt for every meal. Maybe she tends to purchase low-fat frozen dinners, sugar-free beverages, or low-calorie cookies more often. She can’t really explain to you why her diet is changing—only that it’s changing.
5. A sudden aversion to certain foods
Carly’s love for certain foods suddenly becomes hatred. She no longer orders fries with her meals, she starts avoiding the dairy aisle in the grocery store, or she stops baking brownies on Saturday nights like she used to do. Now she never tries your new recipes if they include cheese, or she never wants to order popcorn at the movie theater with her boyfriend anymore. She claims she just lost her enjoyment of specific foods or that her tastes must be changing.
Obviously, these five warning signs do not always indicate that you or your loved ones definitely have anorexia. For example, a young woman with a serious illness may truly lose her appetite, and a boy who had a bad experience with undercooked fish might develop an aversion to fish. My point in sharing these warning signs is this: don’t underestimate the power of Satan to lie to you, your family members, or your friends. His lies can lead to eating disorders, so if you spot these warning signs early enough, you should pray for wisdom and take action as God leads.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)