Signs of an Eating Disorder

It is normal for a person to be conscious about their look, their weight, and the food they eat. This is why it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether a person is simply being self-conscious, or is already experiencing an eating disorder.

To make matters more difficult, most people who have eating disorders are usually good at hiding it. If you feel like someone you know is experiencing this illness, watch out for these warning signs of an eating disorder to help you determine whether its time to intervene or not.

1. Curbing diet or appetite

One of the signs of an eating disorder is avoiding meals or anything that involves food. A person with this illness would make excuses such as having a stomach ache or that they already ate a heavy meal earlier. If they do eat, they only take in small portions or select low-calorie food. Some would even completely eliminate certain food types like carbs and fat from their diet.

Other warning signs that a person is severely curbing their appetite is when they obsessively count calories, read food labels, and weigh food portions. Be observant of any changes in a person’s eating behaviours such as eating food in a specific order or chewing and cutting food excessively. Also, check if they are using diet pills or even drugs.

2. Binge eating

Binge eating is one of the more common signs of an eating disorder. You will notice that someone is bingeing when food supply in your house easily runs out at within an unusually short period of time. A person who binges would most likely hide their empty wrappers and packages at the bottom of the trash to avoid getting caught. They also hoard unhealthy food like sweets and junk food and keep them in a hidden stash in their room.

What makes bingeing alarming is that they may act and eat normally when around other people, but eat way too much at night in a place where they won’t get disturbed and caught.

3. Purging

Purging is something that can be easily unnoticed when looking for signs of an eating disorder, but if a person frequently disappears to the bathroom right after eating, you might want to check on them. They could use the sound of the shower or running water to cover up the sound when they purge. You might also be able to notice excessive use of mouthwash or mints so they can disguise the smell of vomit. A person who purges might also take laxatives or other supplements to aid vomiting.

4. Change in appearance and distorted body image

People with eating disorders often experience sudden changes in their appearance. They either become extremely overweight or underweight. They also become extremely preoccupied with the way they look and how much they weigh, causing them to spend so much time criticising themselves in front of the mirror and weighing themselves constantly.

5. Social and psychological signs

Eating disorders go way beyond a person’s eating behaviours. It can also affect how they interact with people and the way they perceive themselves. They start to withdraw from their family and peers, especially when they start to ask questions about their situation. They also experience anxiety, moodiness, and low self-esteem. They feel like they do not have their life under their control.

Read More: How to help someone with an eating disorder

It is important to note that the warnings signs of an eating disorder listed above may not be as evident as they seem. People with eating disorders can be very good at hiding their behaviour. In case you notice a few of these signs, be sure to approach the person affected in the right way. It would be best if you seek medical help before taking any action that might only worsen the case.

If you’d like to talk to one of our treatment experts or learn more about our eating disorder treatment, click here.