WARNING SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

A professional familiar with the treatment of eating disorders can give you honest feedback about the seriousness of your situation as well as advice about what you may want to do next. Certainly, sharing your thoughts, concerns, and feelings with someone who can listen compassionately while suspending judgment can be helpful, comforting, and motivating. If you notice several of the symptoms listed below, please seek an evaluation with a professional trained in treating eating disorders.

ANOREXIA NERVOSA:

  • Abrasions on back of hands/knuckles
  • Becomes cold easily; especially the extremities
  • Broken blood vessels in eyes or face
  • Checking weight on scale frequently/multiple times each day
  • Complains of being “too fat” despite being very thin
  • Cooking for others, but not eating themselves
  • Depression, irritability and mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty eating in public or refusal to eat in public
  • Dizziness
  • Evidence of vomiting, laxative abuse, diet pills or diuretics to control weight
  • Excessive exercise
  • Exercising even when injured or ill
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Feelings of self worth determined by what is or is not eaten as well as by the number on the scale
  • Frequent, multiple excuses for not eating meals (i.e. ate earlier, not feeling well)
  • Guilt, shame or feeling weak about eating
  • Isolating from friends, family and social activities
  • Highly self-critical
  • Keeping meticulous track of calories consumed (e.g. including things like antacids, cough drops and low calorie sweetener. Lists of calories consumed can be found on gum wrappers, in notebooks etc.)
  • Labels foods as “good” and “bad”
  • Low self-esteem
  • Muscle weakness and cramping, especially in the legs
  • Noticeable discomfort around food
  • Noticeable weight loss which is not caused by a known physical illness
  • Obsession with food, calories, recipes
  • Odd behaviors with food: mixing foods that do not go together, taking small bites, playing with food to avoid eating it
  • Pale complexion, skin may have a ‘dirty’ look
  • Perfectionistic attitude
  • Problems with short term memory (forgetful)
  • Rigid food rules and behaviors
  • Restricting food choices to low calorie or diet foods
  • Secretive about eating patterns
  • Swollen salivary glands “puffy cheeks”
  • Takes exquisite care of others
  • Unusual eating habits (i.e. cutting food into tiny pieces, picking at food, unusual food combinations)
  • Chewing and spitting food
  • Wearing baggy clothes to hide weight loss
  • Yellow-orange skin
  • Hands and feet may appear bluish

BULIMIA NERVOSA:

  • Abrasions on back of hands and knuckles (also called Russell’s sign)
  • Avoidance of restaurants, planned meals or social events
  • Binge eating
  • Broken blood vessels (in eyes and face)
  • Chewing and spitting food
  • Dental decay and/or discoloration
  • Difficulty with short term memory
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Enlarged salivary or parotid glands (underside of the jaw, near the ears- sometimes referred to as chipmunk cheeks)
  • Fasting (usually after a binge)
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Fear of not being able to stop eating when full
  • Frequently complains of sore throat and or stomach pain
  • Harsh, excessive exercise regimes (works out despite physical injury and illness
  • Labels food as “good” and “bad”
  • Laxative, diet pill or diuretic abuse
  • Mood swings, irritability, depression
  • Muscle weakness, muscle cramping
  • Need for approval from others
  • Secretive eating (food missing)
  • Self-worth determined by weight
  • Self-deprecating thoughts following eating
  • Severe self-criticism
  • Substance abuse
  • Visits bathroom after eating
  • Vomiting (vomit may be found in trash bags, bowls etc.)
  • Weight fluctuations (often 10-15 lbs. range)

BINGE EATING DISORDER:

  • Attempting many types of diets
  • Attributing social and professional failures to  weight
  • Believing s/he will be a better person once thin
  • Binge eating
  • Depression
  • Eating little in public, while maintaining a high weight
  • Fear of not being able to stop eating when full
  • Feeling tormented by eating habits
  • Feelings about self based on weight
  • Isolating from friends, family, social activities and obligations
  • Self-deprecating thoughts following binges
  • Shame and guilt following bingeing, also present continuously to some degree regarding weight
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Weight is focal point of life
  • Withdrawing from activities due to embarrassment about weight

OSFED (Other Specified Feeding Eating Disorder)

Many and any of the symptoms of Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating can be found in OSFED such as:

  • Weight loss, gain or fluctuations
  • Dizziness
  • Preoccupation with food, eating and body weight/shape
  • Anxiety, irritability, depression
  • Labeling foods as “good” or “bad.”
  • Poor body image
  • Calorie counting
  • Overexercising
  • Restricting food intake
  • Bingeing
  • Purging
  • Swollen glands
  • Easily cold
  • Secretive eating
  • Increased interest in cooking, especially cooking for others

ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)

One key feature of ARFID is the absence of body image disturbance

  • Abnormal lab work
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Easily cold or cold all the time
  • Fear choking or vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Irritability
  • Lanugo-fine downy hair on body
  • May refuse certain textures (Please screen for Sensory Processing Disorder)
  • Mottled skin on legs, hands, feet
  • Narrow selection of foods willing to eat
  • Significant weight loss
  • Significant nutritional deficiency (requiring need for nutritional supplements)
  • Socially isolated
  • Stomach Pain
  • Swelling in legs or feet
  • Tired/lethargic
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating