Signs of an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders can affect men and women from any background.  They are defined as any abnormal eating habits that have a negative or detrimental effect on the body and our health.  The two best known eating disorders are anorexia, and bulimia. For many sufferers, symptoms don’t look like symptoms at first, they may just feel like normal dieting patterns or setbacks.  


In truth, being able to identify the symptoms can help someone suffering from an eating disorder get the help sooner and more effectively.  

Eating disorders can have many triggers, but what is most important is seeking professional assistance once symptoms have been identified.  Some common symptoms of eating disorders are weight loss, weight gain, muscle loss, hair loss and nutritional deficiencies. Here are some symptoms of common eating disorders and how they might present themselves so you can help yourself or a loved one: 

1. Skipping Meals

Anorexia is one of the best known eating disorders, and one of the most common symptoms is skipping meals.  Because anorexia is characterized by extreme thinness and frailty, it is likely one of the most obvious of the disorders to spot from the outside.  Poor skin and hair can be another telltale of this disorder, and a result of the malnutrition associated with starving oneself.  Usually those suffering from anorexia will try to cover up the fact that they are skipping meals by making excuses like they have eaten or will eat at a later time.  

2. Hitting the bathroom immediately after meals

Bulimia is another common eating disorder, characterized by purging immediately after meals.  Purging does not necessarily mean throwing up, but food can also be expelled by taking laxatives. Bulimics may have normal eating habits, be on restricted diets or binge.  Whichever type of eating habits the person holds, they still purge afterward.    In order to purge – the sufferer will use the bathroom after meals religiously.  Purging can cause serious health issues like dehydration, digestive problems, acid reflux and cardiac complications.  

3. Overeating to the point of physical illness

Binging, or compulsive overeating, is probably something we have all experienced at one point or another in our lives.   This disorder however is when this binging becomes a typical habit and sufferers regularly overeat junk food like those high in fat and sugar.  This binging is associated with emotional distress, shame and depression.  Physically, bingers make themselves sick from the amount of food they consume in one sitting.  At times, this overeating leads to vomiting.  Binge eating can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem.  Food is used as a coping mechanism in this case.

4. Calorie counting at the gym

Anorexia athletica is an eating disorder that is characterized by someone’s obsession with burning off their meal calories at the gym.  This goes beyond the normal gym session, to working out for hours well beyond what is deemed healthy.   These people can cause themselves muscle and bone injuries from overuse.  Similarly, like in anorexia, hyper-gymnasiacs are often malnourished or overly thin from restricting meals and working out too hard to burn them off.