Unhealthy eating trend could be warning of something more serious

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - When this 40-something-year-old looks into the mirror she doesn't see what others see.

"I probably see myself about 40% bigger than I really am," said a Region 8 woman we will call Tonya since she wants to hide her identity.

"I just remember getting a little bit thinner, a little bit thinner and exercising to the point of almost passing out," said Tonya.

Weight loss is a fight she never wins.

"It's a battle in the mind and it wore it me out," said Tonya.

She says her battle with anorexia is like any other deadly addiction--leaving her emptier every time.

"It would be similar to a drug addict," said Tonya.

"I got really good at building my immune system so therefore I wouldn't pass out," said Tonya.

When she first heard about the new term liarexia, an easting habit where the sufferer eats large amounts of food in front of people and small amounts behind closed doors, she immediately connected.

"I like the term liarexia. Eating in front of people becomes pressure, and they expect you to eat," said Tonya.

Dr. Cristina Shaw, coordinator of the eating disorder services at St. Bernard's Healthcare, says liarexia may be very real to folks like Tonya; however, she says officials in the eating disorder community merely consider it a bad eating habit.

"Been kind of given a snazzy term for engaging in eating disorder behavior," said Dr. Shaw.

She warns though, if you suspect your child or someone you know is showing liarexic behavior to watch them more closely. She says it could be a warning sign for an actual eating disorder.

"You need to be observing the food supply at home," said Dr. Shaw.

Dr. Shaw does say there is good news, "Eating disorders are very treatable."

Tonya calls the help she recieved a gift, starting with her family members, "[They] were so sweet to confront me at the pool and take a picture of my back and loved me enough to say you are gonna get help."

She believes all eating disorders have nothing to do with weight and everything to do with filling an inner void.

"People cut themselves and do drugs or liarexia or bulimia or anorexia it's all to love themselves and there is an empty inside of themselves," said Tonya.

This woman, in recovery, says she has and will continue to share, "...and you have to know that you are pure love"

Major Eating Disorder Warning Signs:

1. Eating large quantities of food when around people but appearing unusually thin, even losing weight

2. Disappearing to the bathroom (or other room) for long periods of time after eating

3. Persistent worry or complaining about being fat

4. Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws

5. Wearing baggy or layered clothing

6. Repeatedly eating large amounts of sweet or high-fat foods

7. Use of dietary supplements or herbal products for weight loss

8. Depression or other moodiness

9. Social withdrawal

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