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Potential Signs of an Eating Disorder



Physical Signs:

Rapid weight loss in a short period of time, or failure to gain weight at the expected rate

Loss of menstrual period or failure to develop it by age 16

Soft hair all over the skin, the body’s attempt to warm itself when there is insufficient body fat

Frequently feeling cold

Blue or purple-tinted hands and feet

Slow or irregular heartbeat

Weakness and dizziness

Behavioral Signs:

Withdrawal from or disinterest in social situations in which food is involved Excessive concern for nutritional content of anything consumed, despite being at a normal or below-normal weight

Does not perceive themselves as underweight, and does not perceive losing more weight as undesirable

Feels uncomfortably full, sick, or bloated after small or normal quantities of food


Physical Signs:

Scars, calluses, or markings on the fingers, especially the knuckles, due to repeatedly sticking them down the throat

Discolored teeth, due to their frequent exposure to stomach acid

Frequent and noticeable fluctuations in weight

Weakness and dizziness caused by inadequate nutrition

Behavioral Signs:

Leaving immediately after meals or eating – not necessarily to the bathroom, but to anywhere that is private enough to purge

Losing weight or maintaining a normal weight despite seeming to eat large quantities of food

Disappearance of large amounts of food

Binge Eating

Physical Signs

The most noticeable physical sign that someone is suffering from BED is weight gain and obesity. However, obesity itself is not an eating disorder and gaining weight does not necessarily indicate disordered eating. Thus, in BED, behavioral signs offer the best indication.

Behavioral Signs:

Eating in private. Does the person seem to be gaining weight despite eating normally or even less-than-normal in the presence of others?

Frequent crash or yo-yo dieting followed by “falling off the wagon” with a binge

Uncomfortable in the presence of food (saying things like, “don’t let me see those brownies unless you want them to disappear!”)

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