It is an uneasy feeling when you suspect that someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder. You notice that they avoid meals, are keeping a strict count of their calories, or you notice that they routinely excuse themselves to go to the bathroom after eating. You want to help, but jumping to conclusions on such a sensitive topic surely doesn’t seem like it could solve more problems than it might create. Most people who struggle with eating disorders believe that their behavior is completely justified and normal. They see an inflated version of their self-image in the mirror, and believe that they are taking the necessary precautions and steps to avoid being what they believe to be fat. Some of the first signs of recognizing an eating disorder are related to abnormal eating patterns. Given that eating disorders are the deadliest of mental health disorders, it is reasonable to want to help.
Growing awareness for having a healthy relationship with food is the first step to help those with a problem recognize it and consider prevention measures. Just identifying a potential problem or red flag can start a conversation between friends or someone and their doctor. Rader programs recently published this flowchart infographic that leads readers through a series of questions to determine whether or not the reader has a healthy relationship with food. Of course these are generalizations and aren’t applicable to everyone, but this is a great way to raise awareness and hopefully trigger those who need help to seek it.