How to Spot an Eating Disorder in your Loved One

Eating disorders are horrifying to watch a loved one go through, especially because it might take a while before you recognize the signs. Those with anorexia nervosa may not be skin and bones. Those with a binge eating disorder may not be overweight. People can have and suffer from eating disorders silently, and the last thing you want is to only notice when it has reached the extremes.

Eating disorders are relatively common, with an average of 30 million people in the USA suffering from an eating disorder at any time. Every hour, it is estimated that some dies due to their eating disorder in one way or another.

Help is Available to Spot the Signs

 Spotting an eating disorder in its earliest stages is one of the best outcomes for your loved one, and will allow you to get the help from a specialized center like Eden Treatment. The more advanced an eating disorder is allowed to develop, the higher the overall risk to their health and recovery. Know these signs, even if you don’t suspect anything so that you can see the warning signs for what they are:

Signs of Anorexia NervosaHow to Spot an Eating Disorder in a Loved One

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by its restrictive diet. It might start out as a weight loss goal and then be taken too far, and the goal may become an obsession. Clean eating can result in an unhealthy, unsupportive diet. This could then lead to skipping meals or taking laxatives or over-exercising. Unchecked, this type of disorder leads to an unhealthy weight that causes organs to shut down and the body to die. It is the most dangerous of all eating disorders.

Signs of anorexia nervosa that you absolutely will want to take note of include:

  1. Complete obsession with “clean eating” and diet fads.
  2. Obsession with exercising, especially to lose weight.
  3. The persistent belief they are overweight, despite being too thin already.
  4. Being evasive about how much they have eaten.
  5. Excessive drop in weight.
  6. Signs of malnutrition (poor skin, exhaustion, poor recovery time, poor concentration, etc.).

Signs of Bulimia NervosaHow to Spot an Eating Disorder in a Loved One

Bulimia nervosa and binge eating share a lot of similar traits. The only difference is the purge after overeating. Purging the meals and taking laxatives and other methods to get rid of the food in question is what lies at the heart of bulimia nervosa. This can lead to your loved one becoming underweight or even maintain their weight. The signs will include:


  • An unhealthy relationship with food
  • Purging after a meal (going to the bathroom immediately after eating)
  • Persistent fear of gaining weight
  • Excessive exercise
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Raspy voice
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Signs of dehydration

Signs of Binge EatingHow to Spot an Eating Disorder in a Loved One

Binge eating is a compulsive disorder that begins due to how comforting it can feel to eat food. In fact, our brain rewards our eating habits with endorphins or feel-good hormones. Taken to an unhealthy amount, this could mean that the way someone copes with negative stimuli is to eat, which on the other side of the spectrum can cause weight gain, eventually causing health problems on their own.


  • Overeating
  • Eating in response to pain
  • Having a secret stash
  • Excessive weight gain


Eating disorders are incredibly dangerous. For some, the eating disorder itself carries a fatality rate. In all cases, those who suffer from an eating disorder are likely to also suffer from other mental illnesses, meaning that suicide and self-harm is a very real concern. You need to know the signs so that you can help your loved one get help as early as possible.

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