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Eating Disorders: Signs and Symptoms


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• 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

• Pale complexion, skin may have a ‘dirty’ look

• Perfectionistic attitude

• Problems with short term memory (forgetful)

• 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)

• Wearing baggy clothes to hide weight loss

• Yellow-orange skin


• Abrasions on back of hands and knuckles

• 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)

• Ipecac abuse

• 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)


• Attempting many types of diets

• Attributing social and professional failures to high 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

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