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How Can You Tell If Someone Has An Eating Disorder?

Image by Steven Amoxes via
Image by Steven Amoxes via

Eating disorders have a wide of spectrum; from the anorexic who under-eats, the bulimic who eats with purging and the binge eater who overeats on food without purging. Here are some signs to look for:

The following symptoms occur in (most) eating disorders:

Lack of Normalcy – A “diet” or “behavior” escalates into an eating disorder addiction when an individuals binging, overeating, obsessing, purging, starving, calorie counting etc… starts to interfere with everyday life. Often the eating disorder addiction will start to negatively impact the individuals home life, relationships, outings, studying, work etc..

Isolation - Often time’s people with eating disorders will isolate, like with many other addictions the person suffering from an eating disorder may feel shame about their behavior or may want others to see only a certain side of them, not revealing the behavior they see as flawed.

Hiding -  A person with an eating disorder may begin hiding food and food behaviors from others, not wanting anyone to know what is going on.  They may insist they have “Just eaten” or will “eat later.”  A person with an eating disorder may be able to exhibit eating that appears to be usual at times, they may even participate in outings where food is involved but, this same person may leave that outing and binge or purge or begin a exercise or restriction regimen that they believe will delete that food from their bodies.

Comparing - Women with eating disorders may spend much time comparing their bodies to the bodies of others; they may find their bodies unacceptable or disgusting, though to others they may seem completely appropriate. 

Anorexia Symptoms

  • Complaints of being cold
  • Loss of scalpel hair
  • Loss of menstrual period
  • Overgrowth of facial hair
  • Constipation
  • Fasting
  • Repetitive cleanses and/or detoxes
  • Classifies “good food” and “bad food”
  • Skipping meals
  • Under eating


 Binge Eating Symptoms

  • Frequent episodes of eating abnormally large amount of food
  • Complaints of being unable to control what or how much they eat
  • Eating rapidly
  • Eating burnt, frozen, stale or expired food
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone out of embarrassment at the quantity of food being eaten
  • Feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt after binging
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Frequent dieting


Bulimia Symptoms

  • Vomiting and laxative Abuse
  • Under dosing insulin
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Frequent dieting
  • Person may be under-, over-, or normal weight
  • Swollen glands, puffiness in the cheeks, or broken vessels under the eyes
  • Unexplained tooth decay
  • Bathroom visits after meals
  • Rigid and harsh exercise regimes
  • Bingeing that may alternate with fasting
  • Preoccupation / constant talk about food or weight
  • Shoplifting (sometimes food or laxatives)
  • Fear of being fat, regardless of weight

Eating disorders are deadly. If you are concerned that you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder please reach out to The Victorian. We would be happy to discuss recovery and treatment options with you (888) 268 – 9182.