About Eating Disorders

Signs and Symptoms

Below is a list of common signs and symptoms that may be present if a person is struggling with an eating disorder. This is not a diagnostic tool; the presence or absence of any signs or symptoms does not necessarily mean someone does or does not have an eating disorder. Because each eating disorder presents itself differently, the signs and symptoms are broken down by diagnosis.

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Low body weight – may have dramatic weight loss
  • Feels as though he or she is overweight, even when that is clearly not the case
  • Denial of hunger
  • Preoccupation with body weight and shape (frequent weighing and comments regarding weight and shape
  • Obsession with food and its nutrients (calories, fat, carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Food rituals (cutting into very small pieces, excessive chewing, etc.)
  • Excessive exercise and dieting
  • Anxiety regarding weight, meal time, and social activities or gatherings
  • Frequent fatigue and overall weakness
  • Dry, thinning, or loss of hair
  • Dry skin and brittle nails
  • Frequently cold
  • Downy hair covering body, called lanugo
  • Amenorrhea (loss of menstruation in women)

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Frequent fluctuations in body weight
  • Frequent episodes of binging (consuming large amounts of food) followed by purging (compensatory behaviors including self-induced vomiting, misuse of diuretics, laxatives, or enemas)
  • Feeling of loss of control during binge episodes
  • Feelings of shame and guilt when eating
  • Preoccupied with body weight and shape
  • Preoccupied with exercise and dieting
  • Signs of purging include frequent trips to bathroom (especially after meals), swollen cheeks, cuts or scabs on knuckles and back of hands, discolored teeth and tooth decay
  • Withdrawal from social activities and gatherings

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Frequent episodes of binging (consuming large amounts of food)
  • Feeling of loss of control during binge episodes
  • Feelings of shame and guilt when eating
  • Eating when not physically hungry
  • Eating past the point of discomfort
  • Eating alone

If you think you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, express your concern and seek professional help immediately.