How to Detect an Eating Disorder (15 Signs)

How to Detect an Eating Disorder (15 Signs)

Does your friend or family member have an eating disorder? It can be hard to tell.

At least 30 million people from all walks of life suffer from eating disorders in the U.S. And the consequences can be dire.

Anorexia nervosa, specifically, has the highest death rate of all mental illnesses, with between 5% and 20% of people diagnosed with it, dying from the disorder.

You can help someone live and enjoy life by knowing the warning signs. Unfortunately, not every person who suffers from an eating disorder actually shows any symptoms at all.

Related: Vegan? Gluten Free? How Your Obsession With ‘Clean Eating’ May Actually Be an Eating Disorder Called Orthorexia

If you suspect something isn’t right, talk to your doctor or another care professional to determine the next steps to take.

Here are 15 of the top warning signs someone is suffering, according to experts:

  • Losing weight rapidly
  • Always feeling tired
  • Feeling cold, even in warm weather
  • Feeling anxious at meal times
  • Swelling in the face, around the cheeks and jaw due to vomiting
  • An unnatural preoccupation with body image
  • Excessive dieting and calorie counting
  • Visiting the bathroom after every meal
  • Eating only in private
  • Needing to exercise all the time
  • An overindulgence in ‘healthy eating’, to the point of being excessive
  • Secretive behavior around food and eating
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Needing to always eat at the same time, each day
  • Obsessive rituals in connection with food (cutting everything into tiny pieces)

 Contact a healthcare professional about the problem. Click here for tips on how to talk to someone you suspect has a problem.

Photo credits: Tero Vesalainen/

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