a woman distancing from pastries

One of the prevailing myths about eating disorders is you have to be extremely thin to be considered ill. The truth is there are people struggling with the disease, and yet look perfectly okay — in fact, some are even considered fat. It’s then harder for people and those around them to accept the reality of the eating disorder when the weighing scale consistently shows they’re within the normal weight.

The Case of Atypical Anorexia

Atypical anorexia is a type of anorexia where a person ticks off all the criteria for having an eating disorder, except for the fact that even though they’ve lost weight dramatically, their weight falls within or above normal range. This happens when the person suffering has started off the weight loss at an obese or overweight status.

The drastic slump on their weight makes them look fine, but internally, the person struggles with the fear of becoming fat, obsessing about body image to the point of anchoring their identity on appearance. Moreover, when examined closely, they’re actually malnourished.

The treatment for atypical anorexia starts with training the patient to develop healthier patterns of thinking when confronted with body image issues. This is called cognitive behavioral therapy. Experts on CBT in Westport note this is the most common treatment, as it’s proven effective for eating disorders that are difficult to detect.

 ‘I Can’t Have an Eating Disorder’

People who exhibit heavier weight yet suffer eating disorder find it difficult to seek treatment though. This stems from the fact that patients often don’t believe they have the disease since they don’t look thin enough.

For the people around them who notice the patients skipping meals and not eating much, they misinterpret it as part of weight loss. And if your loved one has been teased all their life for being overweight or obese, of course, you won’t stop them from being consistent with their slimming efforts. But if your relative has been missing periods, experiencing dental problems, and suffering from chronic low blood pressure in the course of their “healthy weight loss” journey, then that’s a big red flag that merits a visit to a psychologist.

People who have heavier or healthy weights can also suffer from eating disorders. Watch out for the signs and help your loved one overcome the disease.