7 Eating Disorder Signs and Symptoms

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


An eating disorder is a mental he alth condition that can seriously impact your physical health and even lead to death. At least one person dies as a result of an eating disorder about every hour . And even if an eating disorder doesn’t cause extreme health problems, it does impede your ability to live a normal life.  

In this blog, we will discuss seven common signs of an eating disorder like anorexia, binge-eating disorder, and bulimia. If you believe that someone close to you is suffering from an eating disorder, watch for these symptoms and urge them to get the help they need sooner rather than later.  

1. Extreme Weight Loss

A common and easily recognizable sign of anorexia is extreme weight loss. If you have a loved one who has recently lost a lot of weight and they are also exhibiting other symptoms of an eating disorder, then they might have anorexia.  

Bulimia, on the other hand, isn’t as easy to detect. Often, people with bulimia can maintain a seemingly healthy weight. And people with binge-eating disorder may constantly diet but never lose any weight.  

2. Excessive Exercise

Another sign of anorexia, as well as bulimia, is excessive exercise. People with eating disorders often exercise compulsively, meaning they won’t let anything stop them from completing their exercise routine, including bad weather, illness, and special occasions. Some people even feel the need to exercise in the middle of the night and other odd times. 

3. Avoiding Eating in Front of Others

No matter what type of eating disorder someone has, they will probably be uncomfortable eating in front of other people. They may refuse to eat meals with others or come up with excuses as to why they can’t be there to share a meal with you.  

4. Making Frequent Comments About Being Fat

Another sign of all eating disorders is when someone constantly remarks on how fat they are, even if they are very thin. When they make these comments, they aren’t fishing for compliments or seeking attention. People with eating disorders have a distorted body image, so even when they are dangerously underweight, they will believe they are too large and need to lose more weight.

5. Wearing Baggy Clothes to Hide the Body

People with anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder tend to wear baggy clothes to hide their bodies, either because they don’t want people to notice the extreme changes in their weight or because they are ashamed of how they look. 

6. Hoarding Food or Hiding it In Strange Places

A sign of binge-eating disorder is hoarding food or hiding it in strange places. If you notice that your loved one hides food in their room, car, bag, or other places, they might have a binge-eating disorder.  

7. Taking Frequent Trips to the Bathroom

If you notice that your loved one immediately goes to the bathroom after every meal, they could be struggling with bulimia. If you notice the sounds or smells of vomiting or if you notice that they frequently use laxatives and diuretics, then you should definitely try to guide them to seek professional help.  

Also, people with anorexia commonly complain of constipation and/or stomach pain, so they might also spend a lot of time in the bathroom.  

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, know that there is hope. For immediate help, you can reach the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders at 630-577-1330. You can also schedule an appointment to speak with your doctor and/or psychiatrist to figure out which treatment options are best suited for you or your loved one.  

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