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Anorexia Warning Signs and ANITA DE MONTE LAUGHS LAST by Xóchitl González

Cover of the book Anita De Monte Laughs Last used to teach eating disorder and anorexia warning signs.

In high school, Raquel had luscious thighs and matching curves.  She liked her body, and she enjoyed food. When Raquel got to Brown University, things changed. At college, Raquel was out of her element. She stressed about what foods she ate and later felt a sense of control and accomplishment when she consumed less. Over time, her weight dropped, and she became too thin. Raquel’s thoughts were chaotic. She endured a rotation of fear and shame. Her mother, sister, and friends worried. When Raquel was home for the summer, her mother helped her increase intake and healthily gain weight, which was challenging but mostly successful.


About a year later, prompted by a problematic boyfriend who idolized a smaller frame, Raquel’s relationship with food and her body again became problematic. The boyfriend encouraged Raquel to restrict food, increase exercise, and wear control-top pantyhose. Raquel acquiesced; she physically and metaphorically shrank.


Raquel has anorexia, an eating disorder that occurs when a person eats less than their body needs while also experiencing low self-worth, poor body image, and/or a lack of recognition about the seriousness of eating-related problems.


Anorexia warning signs include:


  • Dramatic weight loss (from any starting point)

  • Extreme dietary restrictions (sometimes cloaked as “just a diet”)

  • Stomach cramps / menstrual irregularities

  • Difficulties concentrating

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Feeling cold and dressing in layers to stay warm or hide your body

  • Sleep problems

  • Dry skin and hair, brittle nails, fine hair (lanugo)

  • Muscle weakness

  • Obsession with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting

  • Preoccupation with “feeling fat”

  • Negative self-worth and body image

  • Excessive, rigid exercise regime

  • Avoiding eating with others, which can lead to social isolation


If you experience these warning signs, tell someone you trust and ask them to help you get help. Together, reach out to a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and can help you recover. Websites for the National Eating Disorder Association is a great place to start.


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