Eating Disorder Treatment Center

Canopy Cove of Tallahassee, Florida

Signs of and Eating Disorder

The following signs indicate that someone may be suffering from an eating disorder; especially when the behaviors are recent and several occur together.

  • Weight loss: extreme thinness or loss of 15 or more lbs. in 2-3 months; is exhilarated by weight loss.
  • Intense fear of being overweight: preoccupied with thinness, wants to be thinner than peers, complains of being overweight when not, obsessed with clothing size, scales, and mirrors.
  • Preoccupation with dieting and food: uses diet products, talks constantly about food, calories, fat grams, reads a lot about nutrition, dieting, and exercise.
  • Eating little: skips meals, eats very little, is finicky about food, appears to eat when not–e.g., pushes food around on a plate but mostly does not eat it.
  • Unusual eating habits: eats one thing at a time, eats the same thing every day, cuts food into tiny pieces, fears touching certain foods, sudden vegetarianism, refuses to eat with others.
  • Bathroom breaks: disappears into the bathroom during or after meals–may suggest vomiting to purge calories.
  • Taking up smoking: especially for someone who would not be expected to smoke.
  • Caffeine use: excessive drinking of diet caffeinated beverages or regular coffee without sugar.
  • Evidence of binge eating: a lot of empty food packages may suggest bingeing.
  • Empty laxative packages: herbal or otherwise, may suggest purging.
  • Onset of hyperactivity: constantly fidgets, lots of exercise.
  • Loss of menstrual period: irregular, minimal, or absent menses.
  • Intolerance of cold: shivering, blue skin or fingers.
  • Baggy or full-covering clothes: wears baggy clothes or long sleeves, pants and coats during summer months–used to hide excessive thinness, may indicate body image problems.
  • Skin and hair problems: pasty-looking skin, very thin and dry hair, hair loss and fine hair growth on the face and arms like a baby–all indicate malnourishment.
  • Swollen salivary glands: distended, “chipmunk” look.
  • Broken blood vessels: in the eyes.
  • Change in mood: anxiety, depression, irritability, increased obsessions and compulsions.
  • Social withdrawal: isolates from peers and family, unwilling to eat with other people.
  • Perfectionism and low self-esteem: expects too much of self and sees self as not good enough.