Signs That You Might Have an Eating Disorder

When someone says, “I’m in recovery from an eating disorder”, people often instantly assume that indicates that they used to be remarkably thin or small. That’s usually not the case at all. You are certainly not alone in this. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders concludes that nearly 10% of the population will deal with some kind of eating disorder throughout their life. Just like mental disorders, anyone can be altered by an eating disorder.


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V), there are five classifications of eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa: purposefully limiting caloric intake out of the concern of obtaining weight.

Avoid Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): being super restrictive in what you eat, to the point that you struggle to reach the required nutritional amounts for basic functioning.

Binge Eating Disorder: engaging in numerous occasions of binge eating without any purging habits. Unlike in bulimia, the binge consumption incidents do not play the role of an effort to regulate weight.

Bulimia Nervosa: consuming food to overload over a small period of time (identified as binge eating), accompanied by some sort of excreting performance, such as forced vomiting, laxative usage, strict dieting, fasting, or extreme exercise.

Other Specified or Eating Disorder (OSFED): refers to all additional models of disordered eating that may not fit the clinical diagnoses listed above.


Although these ailments can reveal themselves differently, they can have a few similar symptoms. These signs may indicate you are coping with an eating disorder. If these signs appear familiar, reach out for guidance. You should always see a medical professional to get a formal diagnosis.


You have a hard time eating in front of other people.

Eating disorders make it challenging to engage with food in a wholesome way. That might mean having a difficult time eating in front of others or feeling like you need to conceal the food that you’re consuming.


You’re dropping and increasing your weight rapidly.

With unorthodox eating habits, it’s difficult for the body to maintain the nutrients it requires to sustain a normal weight. Meanwhile, the variation in weight can be especially triggering for people who are currently disappointed with how their body looks.


You’re constantly eliminating food groups or experimenting with new diet trends. Although some people need to avoid certain foods for health reasons, it’s generally important to incorporate variety into your diet.  When you’re constantly removing foods from your diet in an effort to “gain control” of your body it’s worth re-thinking your approach.


Your stomach continually hurts.

Lack of sufficient nourishment also changes the gastrointestinal system. While the particular symptoms can range from person to person, some well-known ones involve cramps, acid reflux, and constipation are common.


You develop rituals based around eating.

One of the most prominent issues for people who are grappling with an eating disorder is that they feel a compulsion for power over the way they eat. It’s good to have a routine around meals, like always starting dinner with a salad. It’s a problem when you’re unable to eat without going through a specific routine.


You’re experiencing body dysmorphia.

Body dysmorphia is described as an infatuation with observed flaws in your physical condition. Although it’s not present in all types, body dysmorphia is often a fundamental trigger in building up to the expansion of disordered eating.


You have a hard time staying warm.

Fat is good. It’s there to help keep our bodies warm. When there’s low nourishment for fat cells, it’s natural for people to feel a penetrating cold that they can’t get rid of.


If you acknowledge any of these signs in yourself or someone you know, reach out for help. You don’t have to struggle alone. Talk with a doctor or text NEDA to 741741. We are here to support you.


We strongly encourage you to reach out to someone if you are struggling. Please feel free to contact our services at Olive Branch Counseling Services in Tinley Park, Illinois. We will help you find a therapist as soon as possible. There are several ways to contact Olive Branch. Please feel free to give us a call at 708-633-8000.  If you are greeted with our voicemail, please leave a message in voicemail box 3.  We do not answer the phone during sessions.  You may also send an email, or simply fill out the form on this page. We will get in touch with you soon.  Thank you for making contact with Olive Branch.  It is an honor to be of service.


By Sara Corcoran, Undergrad Counseling Intern

Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.

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