If you struggle with your body image and experience feelings of shame, guilt, or fear when you eat, you may have asked yourself “Do I have an eating disorder?” Eating disorders are serious and complex mental illnesses that can affect anyone, including active-duty military personnel and veterans.
Many veterans undergo experiences that can lead to unhealthy relationships with food and their body. Your body type and feelings toward food may not fit the image you have when you think about someone with an eating disorder. However, strict fitness regulations during service can have a strong impact on your idea of the ideal body size.
If you’re a veteran and you’re concerned about your relationship to your body and food, it might be time to get help. The mental health professionals at Heroes’ Mile can determine if you have an eating disorder and what the next step should be. You no longer have to fight this battle alone, because we’ve got your six.
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Do I Have an Eating Disorder?
If you’re unsure if your relationship to your body and food are signs of an eating disorder, you can take a free and confidential eating disorder quiz. While this isn’t a replacement for a professional evaluation, it can be the first step toward getting the help you need. However, you can also review some of the common signs below.
Signs you may have an eating disorder can include:
- Preoccupation with food, body image, and weight
- Having a distorted self-perception
- Symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Feeling ashamed or guilty after eating
- Extreme weight changes
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
- Swollen jaw, discolored teeth, or tooth loss from vomiting
- Stomach and gastrointestinal problems
- Hiding your body under baggy or layered clothing
- Eating alone or hiding food
- Restricting food intake and/or eating a large amount of food
If you’re wondering, “Do I have an eating disorder?” and any of these signs resonate with you, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional. It’s important to note that you may not exhibit every sign, but these eating habits and behaviors indicate that you may benefit from eating disorder treatment.
Types of Eating Disorders
There are different types of eating disorders, all of which are characterized by different eating habits and feelings associated with eating. Some of the different types of eating disorders include:
- Anorexia nervosa: Causes individuals to obsess about their body weight and what they eat. Anorexia is characterized by restricting food intake, excessive exercise, and sometimes laxative use to facilitate weight loss.
- Bulimia nervosa: Involves recurrent episodes of binging and purging. Individuals will eat large amounts of food, then vomit, exercise, or use laxatives to prevent weight gain from binging episodes.
- Binge eating disorder: Involves consuming large amounts of food in one sitting and feeling unable to stop or control it. BED is also characterized by feelings of disgust or guilt after overeating.
- Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID): Characterized by picky eating and low interest in food. Often involves issues with textures or fear of injury. Individuals consume a limited variety of “safe” foods, often causing poor health and nutrition.
- Other specified feeding or eating (OSFED): This diagnosis is given when individuals have eating disorder symptoms but don’t meet the criteria of other eating disorders.
Learning about the different types of eating disorders may not fully answer your question, “Do I have an eating disorder?” However, this list can help you recognize if any of these thoughts and behaviors resonate with you. If they do, seeking treatment as soon as possible can prevent worsening or life-threatening symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors for Veterans
Please note that eating disorders go beyond the desire to look a certain way. They are complex mental health issues that cause a distorted sense of self in addition to harmful eating habits. Although experts are still unsure what exactly causes them, several common factors consistently appear.
For instance, some individuals are at a higher risk because they have a family history of eating disorders or other mental health conditions. While others who have mental health disorders such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder are also at a higher risk. Moreover, personality traits, including neuroticism, perfectionism, and impulsivity, can also increase the risk.
In addition to these contributing factors, veterans are at a high risk of developing eating disorders resulting from trauma. For example, many veterans have survived combat exposure, food insecurity, or military sexual trauma. To cope, some veterans continue harmful eating habits that may have been necessary for survival in the past. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are especially common in veterans due to a combination of these risk factors.
Veteran Eating Disorder Program at Heroes’ Mile
Traditional eating disorder treatment programs don’t always have the resources to adequately help veterans. This is because many veterans struggle with complex co-occurring disorders, like PTSD and eating disorders. Moreover, these disorders are often tied to the unique forms of trauma many veterans experience. As a result, Heroes’ Mile provides a trauma-informed veteran-exclusive treatment that addresses the underlying factors contributing to their disorders.
It’s no secret that many veterans struggle to connect with civilians when it comes to discussing mental health. Therefore, many veterans don’t get the help and support they need. But our treatment programs are led by mental health professionals who are veterans like you.
Heroes’ Mile offers several program types to best suit the needs of every veteran at our center. These programs include:
Our experienced team will determine which level of care best suits your needs upon entering the program. From here, we will guide you through every step of your treatment plan for effective long-term recovery.
Evidence-Based Eating Disorder Treatment Options
Our veteran eating disorder program provides a variety of evidence-based recovery methods that cater to individual patient needs. Every treatment plan is customized to suit your unique experiences and recovery goals.
With that in mind, some of the most common eating disorder treatment options at Heroes’ Mile include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: Veterans work individually with mental health professionals to re-establish healthy eating habits and thoughts about their bodies to end the cycle of their eating disorder.
- Trauma-focused therapy: These types of therapy help veterans understand how their traumatic experiences have impacted their well-being and contributed to their eating disorder. Trauma-focused therapy methods at Heroes’ Mile include EMDR therapy and TIR therapy.
- Group therapy: Group settings help veterans identify harmful thought patterns and behaviors contributing to co-occurring disorders. Group therapy also provides a supportive space to share experiences and recovery milestones.
- Nutrition education: Helps veterans develop a healthy relationship with their body through food.
- Physical fitness: Teaches veterans how to use exercise as a healthy outlet for stress and staying fit. Some individuals use exercise to fuel their disorder, but professionals at the center can help veterans avoid harmful and avoidant fitness techniques.
These are only a few treatment options we offer at our recovery center. However, treatment plans can be tailored to include other therapeutic methods we provide.
Enroll in Our Eating Disorder Program Today
A diverse combination of eating disorder treatment options is more likely to produce an effective long-term recovery plan. Therefore, you should consider enrolling in our veteran-exclusive program at Heroes’ Mile in DeLand, Florida.
Stop asking, “Do I have an eating disorder?” without getting the answer you need. Call our admissions experts at 888-838-6692 to get the help you deserve today. Or you can submit a confidential contact form online instead. Don’t wait another day to start recovery. We’re here to guide you every step of the way.
Original Author: Heroes’ Mile