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Signs of an Eating Disorder



Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can cause health problems and even death. 

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are the three main types of eating disorders.

In this blog post, you will learn about the signs of an eating disorder, what causes them and how to get help if you think someone might have one.


Table of Contents

1. Obsession with food, calories, and body size

An eating disorder is a condition in which you have unhealthy thoughts about food, your weight, or yourself. 

These thoughts can lead to behaviors like not eating enough food or only eating tiny amounts of certain foods. This can make it hard for you to keep healthy weight levels.


How to tell if you have an eating disorder

  • If you find yourself worrying about how much you eat, weighing yourself more than once a day, and feeling guilty after eating anything that fits into one of these categories: sweets, carbs, or fatty foods — that could be a sign of an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • You are always a certain weight, no matter what. If you are your “goal” weight, then you must be going to lose it again. It’s not enough to be thin; you also have to maintain that thinness. This can lead people with an eating disorder to be obsessed with their weight—always worrying if they’re at their “ideal” size or trying new things like restricting calories or purging to get there.
  • You weigh yourself at least once a day and often more than once (on average twice per day). People with eating disorders tend to have an obsessive relationship with their body image and may repeatedly check themselves in the mirror, ask others how they look, or routinely weigh themselves (once every few days). Checking your weight is also considered a good way of keeping track of any possible changes as well as making sure that nothing has changed during one day.


2. You have unexplained swelling or bloating

Swelling or bloating is a sign of an eating disorder, but it can also be a sign of other conditions. 

It’s important to see your doctor if you notice swelling or bloating, so they can determine if it’s related to your eating habits, another condition, or something else.

Some examples of things that can cause swelling include:

  • Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland)
  • Cushing disease (a rare disorder caused by high levels of corticosteroids)
  • Hyperparathyroidism (an overactive parathyroid gland).


3. You experience feelings of shame and guilt about food

If you experience feelings of shame and guilt about food, it’s important to understand that these are not signs of an eating disorder. 

These feelings are common in society, and they can be used to motivate people to change their behavior. 

However, they can also be used to manipulate people who don’t have an eating disorder.

If someone tells you that you have an eating disorder because they think it will help motivate you to change your behavior or improve your life, then they’re lying and possibly manipulating and gaslighting you at the same time! 

If someone tells you that their goal is for their relationship with you is defined by their ability control how much food (or other things) enter your body. Well, there’s another issue at play here which we’ll talk about next week!


4. You blame yourself for a lack of willpower or a strong character

The most important thing to remember is that eating disorders are not caused by a lack of willpower. 

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect the way you think, feel, and behave. They are not a choice, nor can they be cured simply by wanting to recover or wishing it so.

People with eating disorders often blame themselves for their condition because they don’t understand what’s happening to them. 

However, this isn’t helpful and can lead to feelings of shame or guilt that make it even harder to get better. 

You are not alone! If you think you may have an eating disorder, consider reaching out to a doctor or therapist who specializes in treating people with eating disorders as early as possible so they can help guide you through treatment options and recovery from your symptoms.


5. You exercise compulsively

Exercise is a great way to burn calories and stay in shape, but too much of it can lead to an eating disorder. 

If you’re exercising more than five hours per week (the recommended amount), there’s a chance that your workouts are taking over your life and interfering with other aspects of your health.

Signs that you may be over-exercising include:

  • You exercise compulsively, even when injured or sick.
  • Your lifestyle revolves around exercise—for example if you drop plans with friends because they don’t accommodate workouts or spend most of your free time at the gym instead of socializing.
  • You have unusual muscle tone, defined as “irregular and often thickened muscular development.” This can result from excessive amounts of weight lifting or running (more than five miles per day).


6. Your eating habits are different in public than they are at home

If you are more likely to eat in public than at home, it could be a sign of an eating disorder. 

For example, you tend to eat more when you’re out and about than when you’re home alone with your family. 

This is because it’s easier to eat in public; there is less likelihood of judgment or criticism, so the pressure is off. 

At home and with friends or family members present (or even just on social media), however, there may be more temptation toward food because of all the delicious-looking Instagram photos out there!

On the flip side, some people find that they can’t control their eating habits at home no matter how hard they try—which can lead them down a path toward disordered eating habits such as bingeing or restricting themselves from certain foods altogether.


7. Your behavior has caused you to be socially withdrawn

While eating disorders can happen to anyone, you may be at higher risk if you’re an introvert or socially withdrawn. If your social withdrawal has been going on for a while and seems to be getting worse, it’s important to talk to a doctor about what might be going on.

It’s no secret that eating disorders are isolating. They often cause individuals to withdraw from their community and loved ones due to feelings of shame and embarrassment over the condition. 

However, social withdrawal isn’t just limited to those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa

—it can also lead to other mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorder (in which case the symptoms will look different). 

People with eating disorders tend toward being highly sensitive; they’re often very aware that other people think negatively about them because of their behavior and appearance changes

—and this can cause them not only to slip into isolation but also start believing these negative thoughts themselves!


8. You use excessive amounts of mouthwash, mints, and gum

Excessive mouthwash, mints, or gum use is a sign of an eating disorder. As a general rule, if you find yourself using mouthwash or mints more than once a day, this might be indicative of an eating disorder. 

If you find yourself using mouthwash or mints in excess and it causes problems — disrupting your daily life, interfering with work or school activities 

— there’s a good chance that your oral hygiene habits are masking underlying issues related to your body image and/or disordered eating patterns.


A brief recap: eating disorders can affect anyone. Teens, women, men, etc

An eating disorder is a mental health issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or sexual orientation. 

It’s important to know that eating disorders can be hidden and difficult to identify in yourself or others. 

Eating disorders are not just about food — they are more complicated than that.

You may have an eating disorder if you:

  • Develop obsessive thoughts about food and weight
  • Struggle with extreme emotions after eating (including guilt, shame)
  • Have limited energy for normal activities like work or school
  • Experience body image problems – preoccupation with physical appearance; anxiety over gaining weight; compulsive exercise without regard for your health

If you think you might have an eating disorder, talk to a doctor right away so they can help you figure out what’s going on and how to get better.



You should be able to tell if someone is suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can have long-term effects on a person’s health and happiness. 

If you think somebody close to you might have an eating disorder, talk with them about it and get their help as soon as possible.


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