Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

There is a long list of warning signs of eating disorders. This article looks at the individual warning signs for each type of eating disorder. If you are worried that a loved one may have an eating disorder, read more to learn the warning signs of eating disorders.

Some warning signs of eating disorders are general, while some are specific to a particular eating disorder. The warning signs of eating disorders that you may be able to see will be greatly affected by your relationship with the person about whom you are concerned. If it is a roommate or a family member who lives in the same house with you, your glimpse of the person’s life will be fuller than if it is a neighbor, schoolmate, or colleague.

General Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

These are general warning signs that apply to many or most eating disorders:

  • A marked change in the person’s ranking on the weight/height growth curve.
  • Choosing to eat alone.
  • Comments reflecting negative body image.
  • Anxiety or depression.
  • Any extremes with regard to food and exercise.

The following are signs of the disorder itself, not of the complications that may accompany the eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa

These symptoms can come about when the body has insufficient nourishment:

  • Secrecy about eating or strange eating habits involving restrictions or amounts.
  • Obsessive behavior related to weight and/or appearance. involving food, scales, or mirrors.
  • A woman who has begun to menstruate missing her period.
  • Large weight loss or appearance of being seriously underweight.
  • Irritability, moodiness, and difficulty interacting.
  • Decreased ability to attend and concentrate.
  • Fatigue and lethargy.
  • Noticeably low body temperature, to the point that hands and feet may turn blue.
  • Dry skin.
  • Easy bruising.
  • Hair growth on body and limbs (lanugo), but hair loss on scalp.
  • Hyperactivity.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

These symptoms can come about when the body is over-nourished:

  • Secrecy about eating.
  • Hiding food.
  • Rapid eating.
  • Weight gain.
  • Eating shortly after finishing a complete meal.
  • Very large portions.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimics present a combination of signs: those of the binger and those from the chosen method of offsetting the large amount of caloric intake:

  • Eating uncontrollably.
  • Frequent bathroom use immediately after meals.
  • Vomiting and effects of vomiting such as swelling in the cheeks, jaw, or neck glands, and broken blood vessels in the eyes.
  • Compulsive or excessive exercising.
  • Obsessive behavior relating to food.
  • Tooth decay and other dental issues including bad breath.
  • Moody behavior.
  • A woman who has begun to menstruate missing her period.
  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Missed appointments, dates, etc.
  • Headaches.
  • Easy bruising.
  • Heartburn.


The main warning sign of pica is finding someone ingesting something that is not food. Secondarily, one may find decreased appetite at meals as a result. Other symptoms, including very dangerous ones, may arise, depending on exactly what substance(s) are ingested.

Rumination Disorder

Regurgitation of food is responsible for the following symptoms:

  • Regurgitation itself.
  • Rechewing food.
  • Dental hygiene issues, including tooth decay and bad breath.
  • Stomach aches and/or indigestion.
  • Rawness and chapping of the lips.



Related Article: Overview of Eating Disorders >>