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Five Signs it Might be an Eating Disorder

By Lee Neagle MA, LPC| 3 Min Read | February 20, 2024
5 Eating Disorder Signs To Identify For Effective Treatment

Recognition and treatment are crucial components of eating disorder care. Unfortunately, some behaviors associated with eating disorders can mimic behaviors that are generally accepted in our culture, which makes it difficult to recognize eating disorder signs and identify that something is wrong.

It’s critical to understand that eating disorders are life-threatening illnesses that typically manifest symptoms during adolescence and early adulthood. Therefore, it is paramount to be aware of observable eating disorder signs and behaviors. Early identification of eating disorders is paramount in ensuring individuals get the treatment they need.

The following list of eating disorder signs serves as a starting point to cultivate curiosity about behaviors that you may be experiencing yourself or witnessing in the life of a loved one.

5 Common Eating Disorder Signs

1. Significant emotional energy is being spent on body, weight, shape, and size.

  • How frequently is body/weight/shape/size a topic of conversation?
  • How frequently does the individual make unsolicited comments about their or others’ bodies?
  • How frequently does the individual ask for or seek reassurance around their body?
  • How frequently does the individual weigh themselves? Is it multiple times per day?

2. There are significant changes to the body.

  • Is there rapid weight loss or gain that cannot be explained by a medical condition?

3. There is rigidity around food.

  • Is the individual engaging in food “detoxes” or “cleanses?”
  • Is the individual frequently dieting?
  • Is the individual categorizing food as “good” or “bad?”
  • Is there a sudden change from the individual’s baseline eating behaviors?

4. There is a change in exercise behaviors.

  • Is there rapid change to the intensity of the individual’s exercise behaviors?
  • Is there obsessiveness around completing a certain amount of exercise?

5. There is a lack of control over eating behaviors.

  • Does the individual feel a lack of control over eating episodes?
  • Does the individual not eat based on hunger?
  • Does the individual eat past a point of being physically full?

Please remember this list of eating disorder signs is not exhaustive, and some of these behaviors have been normalized in our culture and do not necessarily indicate the presence of an eating disorder. Any diagnosis should only be made by a professional after an assessment. 

If you or a loved one are exhibiting any of these eating disorder signs or experiencing any of the behaviors listed above, you may want to reach out to an eating disorder professional for an evaluation and, if necessary, a treatment plan. 

At Inner Haven Wellness we offer Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Programming (PHP) for Wisconsin based adults and IOP for adolescents suffering with eating disorders and co-occurring disorders. We offer an assessment as part of our admission process and we are happy to help you evaluate your treatment options.

About The Author

Lee