WARNING: Signs of Eating Disorder Ahead. Seek Help. Find Hope!

25 Potential Signs of Eating Disorder On The Way…

But first, before moving forward to learn of these common warning signs that can alert us to the presence of a possible eating disorder and need for help… a few words of caution for us all. 


Eating disorders are really quite complex and serious; potentially life-threatening illnesses; incorporating various types and spectrum; arising from a combination of many factors [behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological, social]; in which warning signs can be highly variable or even absent at times.  

Fortunately, though, there are at least some common Red Flags to be aware of.  However, be aware, also:  such ‘signs’ are not automatically indicative of an actual eating disorder [signs may be attributed to other reasons, conditions/illnesses, medications, etc.]… and not all, nor any, visible signs must be present for it to be an eating disorder [ED].  Further complicating matters, people with ED may go to great lengths to keep any/all ‘flags’ out of sight.

And speaking of those FLAGS… how about we take a look at many of them here and now!

25 different warning signs* commonly identified that may signal the onset or presence of an eating disorder, which shall include: 7 physical signs, 7 psychological signs, and 11 behavioral signs; as provided via source: the National Eating Disorders Coalition [NEDC] of Australia:

PHYSICAL Warning Signs” (per NEDC)

Rapid weight loss or frequent weight changes

Loss or disturbance of menstruation in girls & women; decreased libido in men

Fainting or dizziness

Feeling tired & not sleeping well

Lethargy & low energy

Signs of damage due to vomiting including swelling around cheeks or jaw, calluses on knuckles, damage to teeth, bad breath

Feeling cold most of the time, even in warm weather

PSYCHOLOGICAL Warning Signs” (per NEDC)

Preoccupation with eating, food, body shape & weight

Feeling anxious &/or irritable around meal times

Feeling ‘out of control’ around food

‘Black and white’ thinking; e.g. rigid thoughts about food being ‘good’ or ‘bad’

A distorted body image

Using food as a source of comfort; e.g. eating as a way to deal with boredom, stress or depression

Using food as self-punishment; e.g. refusing to eat due to depression, stress or other emotional reasons

BEHAVIORAL Warning Signs” (per NEDC)

Dieting behavior; e.g. fasting, counting calories/kilojoules, avoiding food groups such as fats & carbohydrates

Eating in private; avoiding meals with other people

Evidence of binge eating; e.g. disappearance &/or hoarding of food

Frequent trips to the bathroom during or shortly after meals

Vomiting or using laxatives, enemas, appetite suppressants or diuretics

Changes in clothing style; e.g. wearing baggy clothes

Compulsive or excessive exercising; e.g. exercising in bad weather, continuing to exercise when sick or injured, experiencing distress if exercise is not possible

Changes in food preferences; e.g. claiming to dislike foods previously enjoyed, sudden preoccupation with ‘healthy eating’ or replacing meals with fluids)

Obsessive rituals around food preparation & eating; e.g. eating very slowly, cutting food into very small pieces, insisting that meals are served at exactly the same time every day

Extreme sensitivity to comments about body shape, weight, eating & exercise habits

Secretive behavior around food; e.g. saying they have eaten when they haven’t, hiding uneaten food in their rooms

*NOTE: The NEDC recommends that if you have recognized one or more of the above signs or symptoms in someone you know, in whom a potential eating disorder (ED) might be the case, you should seek help immediately. And you may wish to consult your local general practitioner (GP) &/or contact an appropriate support line specializing in ED.  Examples include:

The Butterfly Foundation (NEDC of Australia)

National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

Renoir.Pierre-Auguste_Gabrielle Holding Mirror 1905

Renoir’s Gabrielle Holding A Mirror (1905)

 Reach outSeek helpFind hope.

– – –

[ The last week of February is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week! ]

2015.–The Way to Nourish for Life [refer to “About” regarding caveat].


2 thoughts on “WARNING: Signs of Eating Disorder Ahead. Seek Help. Find Hope!

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