8 signs of eating disorder

8 Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

Last Updated: Tue, January 23, 2024

Any person at any age can suffer from an eating disorder. Contrary to popular belief, eating disorders can be fatal if not treated properly. 

If you think that you or your loved one has an eating disorder, you should be aware of its warning signs. 

In this post, we will explore the most common warning signs of an eating disorder. 

What is an Eating Disorder? 

An eating disorder is a psychological problem defined by significant and persistent disruption in eating patterns. These eating patterns also often come with painful thoughts and emotions. 

In addition, an eating disorder can impair physical, psychological, and social functions. 

There are many types of eating disorders. These include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and other specified feeding and eating disorders. 

Eating disorders impact up to 5% of the population. They are most common in adolescence and early adulthood. Several are more frequent in women, particularly anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. [1] 

Moreover, eating disorders are frequently connected with food, weight, or shape obsessions. They can also be linked to anxiety about consuming or the repercussions of eating specific food items.  

Eating disorders also frequently co-occur with other mental conditions, most notably mood and anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, alcohol abuse, and drug addiction

Evidence also shows that genes and heredity play a role in why certain people are predisposed to an eating problem. However, eating disorders can affect people who have no family history of the disorder.

Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder 

1.     Alterations in Weight 

Anorexia nervosa can be diagnosed if a person weighs less than 85 percent of their optimal body weight. It is also possible if the person displays additional symptoms of an eating problem. 

Someone with an eating problem might be close to, at, or even over their optimal body weight. This frequently occurs among those who have bulimia nervosa, which is characterized by bingeing and purging.

2.     Guilt 

After a binge, it is normal for someone with a binge eating disorder to feel guilty, humiliated, or unhappy. 

This can create a vicious cycle. Binging creates mental anguish, which drives further binging. Many persons with binge eating disorder hide their behavior out of guilt and shame, making it more difficult to diagnose.

3.     Preoccupation with Body Image 

Do you know someone who spends an abnormal amount of time staring in the mirror, makes disparaging remarks about their physical appearance and insists on being overweight? 

Those are not necessarily warning signs of an eating disorder. However, if they grow fixated with specific celebrities and models, compare themselves unfavorably to them, or wear baggy clothing to conceal their body shape, you should be worried. 

What Is Atypical Anorexia

4.     Disruptions in Eating Patterns 

Someone may stop eating with their family, despise formerly favored meals, or get consumed with calculating calories and fat grams. 

Warning signs of an eating disorder also include consuming excessive quantities of water and coffee to suppress their hunger, eating substantially smaller portions, or refusing to eat at all. 

These people might also begin binging on particular food items and going to the restroom right after meals to vomit what they have just eaten. 

Lastly, warning signs of an eating disorder include looking for newly established eating rituals such as chewing for extended periods of time before swallowing, cutting food into little bits, moving food around on the plate, or concealing food in a napkin to dispose of later.

5.     Preoccupation with Nutritional Content 

A commitment to eating nutritious food is admirable. However, if someone you know begins to categorize foods as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, safe or unsafe, you must warn them. 

Warning signs of an eating disorder in terms of emotional content also include constantly searching for organic, low-fat diet foods and frequently visiting nutrition-focused websites. 

Moreover, warning signs of an eating disorder include suddenly declaring that they are vegetarian or vegan. These, along with other strange behaviors, may indicate that they require help. 

6.     Changes in Exercise Patterns 

Another red flag is when someone becomes obsessed with physical fitness. 

People with warning signs of an eating disorder usually spend hours exercising in a ritualistic manner, obsess over the number of calories burned, or become irritated when their exercise routine is disturbed.

7.     Mood Fluctuations 

As an eating problem progresses, it may cause anger, sadness, and anxiety. These cause the individual to withdraw from social situations and lose interest in previously appreciated activities.

8.     Use of Laxatives, Diuretics, or Diet Pills 

There is a lot of pressure on young girls and women nowadays to appear a specific way. However, when someone is prepared to put their health at risk for an unhealthy ideal, they need help.  


A mix of techniques can result in successful treatments for eating disorders. 

Talking with a therapist, particularly one that specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, can change harmful eating behaviors and thought processes. 

Nutrition education, family therapy, and support groups can also be beneficial. Weight loss programs, the right support system, and a sobriety app like I Am Sober can also help with long-term binge eating management. 

I Am Sober is a free app that helps you get some control back in your life.

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