What are the Most Common Eating Disorder Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2018
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Eating disorders are psychological afflictions that include either excessive or insufficient food intake. While some victims suffer from being overweight or underweight, neither condition is required to indicate an eating disorder. There are a variety of eating disorder symptoms that an affected individual can exhibit.

Similar eating disorder symptoms are present within the two most common disorders, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Victims may display a dramatic loss of weight in a short time period. They may wear layers or loose-fitting clothes, or visibly restrict themselves from eating. They also might isolate themselves, visit websites or read books about unhealthy methods of weight loss, and keep a strict food diary.

Atypical eating habits or rituals can also be an indicator of an eating disorder. Victims may shift food items or cut them into small pieces to give them the appearance of being eaten. They also may drop food into a napkin to throw it away, chew food and spit it out, or flush food down the toilet.

Other eating disorder symptoms can include a preoccupation with a variety of things. Some sufferers might obsess over calories and fat content, while others may be consumed with exercising. They also could find themselves constantly complaining about their weight, even if it is within the normal range.


Secret behaviors can also be eating disorder symptoms. Some people with eating disorders may hide or use laxatives or diet pills. They may also hide food, to either avoid eating it, or to eat it without others present. Sufferers of bulimia nervosa in particular may make frequent visits to the bathroom, especially after eating. They may visibly binge or purge themselves of food.

Health problems can also be eating disorder symptoms. Patients can lose their hair or adopt a paler complexion. They may succumb to headaches, sore throats, dizziness, or swollen glands. Constipation, loss of menstrual cycle, incontinence, and low blood pressure may be present. Victims can also endure insomnia, bruises or bleeding.

Psychological eating disorder symptoms are also highly possible. People with eating disorders may have feelings of low-self esteem, inadequacy or worthlessness. They may be very critical of themselves and require approval from their peers. Depression, mood swings, promiscuous behavior, disinterest in sex, and perfectionism can also result.

Other eating disorders, such as compulsive overeating, or binge eating, can be identified through similar symptoms. However, some symptoms may differ. These victims may have excessive weight, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. They may find themselves out of breath after completing normal daily activities, bear leg and joint pain, and sweat excessively. Compulsive overeaters sometimes blame their failures on their weight. They might believe that food is their only friend.



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