National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Lose 30 pounds in 30 minutes! Burn that fat stat! Say good-bye to those flabby thighs! With the nation’s obsession with weight loss and having the “perfect body” it’s easy to slip into an unhealthy mentality without even realizing it. The proof is in the more than 10 million females in the U.S. who are currently fighting an eating disorder. In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, give your eating habits a once—or twice—over to keep yourself in check.

These disorders often stem from depression, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem and feeling a lack of control, which is why treatment will usually consist of both nutritional and psychological counseling. Unfortunately, only one-third of people with anorexia and six percent of people with bulimia receive mental health care.

Experts believe that the sooner the person begins treatments, the higher his (yes, men struggle, too) or her chances are for recovery. Therefore, keep an eye out for the following warning signs and what happens to your body if you keep up these life-threatening behaviors:

Anorexia: dramatic weight loss and an obsession with weight, food, calories and dieting, denying hunger, anxiety about gaining weight and skipping out on mealtimes. Health consequences include fainting, weakness, slow heart rate and low blood pressure (increasing your risk for heart failure), osteoporosis, severe dehydration and hair loss.

Bulimia: consumption of large amounts of food in a short period, frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, smells of vomit, presence of wrappers for laxatives or diuretics, excessive exercising, stained teeth, swelling in cheek and jaw and callused hands from self-induced vomiting and making time for binge-and-purge sessions. This can lead to tooth decay, inflammation of the esophagus, irregular bowel movements and electrolyte imbalances that can result in heart failure and death.

Binge Eating: eating when not hungry or in secret, quickly eating large amounts of food and feeling ashamed after doing so. After a while, your body develops high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, gallbladder and heart disease as well as diabetes.

Struggling with an eating disorder or know someone who is? Then reach out to a treatment provider or a support group for help. The National Eating Disorders Association offers resources and a free confidential helpline (800-931-2237). And while you’re there, check out their nationwide events going on this week.