Anorexic at a Burger Store

April 3, 2010 at 2:40 am (Fróðleikr) (, , , , , , )

A girl sitting at a table on the patio exhibited some telltale signs of anorexia I recognised in my own past behaviour.

I record them here to help out those who may not know what it is like to be anorexic. If a good friend exhibits these signs, it could be a cause for concern:

1. Everyone else at the table is eating. This may seem like an obvious point, but when someone exhibits such obviously anorexic behaviour around friends and family, they are either stupid or escalating.
2. She glances at everyone else’s food in the same way a single at a bar might glance at a person she finds attractive: barely noticeably, without consciously doing so, over and over again.
3. Every time she stops looking at food or a person eating, she smiles uneasily. She is sure to look at the person talking before she finishes her smile. She’s feeling temptation, and then congratulating herself for not giving in, over and over again. She then masks her feelings by acting as though her smile is in response to the conversation and not her internal monologue.
4. At a place where there are free refills, she orders a large soda. It is guaranteed to be diet. What she’s doing here is giving herself the option to fill her stomach with something sweet and empty so her temptation to run up to the counter and order food is not so strong. The largeness of the soda cup is a visual cue. She’s attempting to satisfy her craving for substance. “You are allowed to have all of this,” it says.
5. She drinks at most a third of the soda, and throws it away immediately upon her party’s exit from the restaurant. Hurdle successfully overcome, she disposes of the tools she used to conquer it. It is a symbolic gesture. Throwing the soda away also solves her temptation to stretch out her stomach by filling it.

A person may act like this without suffering from anorexia nervosa, if they are on a strict diet. However, these signs will predict, with complete reliability, the anorexias of self-control, including those induced by strict dieting in an individual without anorexia nervosa, and including those brief periods of anorexia displayed by bulimia nervosa sufferers.

Anorexias due to nervous disorders such as food phobias and anorexias due to physiological causes will of course not manifest in this way.

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