10 early symptoms of an Eating Disorder

Spotting the symptoms of an eating disorder early on can be a big help in helping yourself or a loved one through the issue and take the first steps towards healing. Our eating disorder experts have put together a list of 10 early symptoms of an eating disorder, so you know what to look out for if you’re concerned for yourself or a young person you know.

 

1. A sudden or increasing interest in excessive exercising

An interest in exercise is often seen as a positive health move, it is also a common and often unrecognised symptom of an eating disorder. Exercising to excess plays a big part in maintaining the disorder and is found in many different types of eating disorder.

 

2. Dramatic weight loss

Although weight loss doesn’t present in the same way for everyone with an eating disorder, it is a common physical symptom and the on most associated with an eating disorder, particularly Anorexia Nervosa.

 

3. Preferring to eat alone or making excuses not to eat with others

Withdrawal from social situations, particularly ones involving food, are often seen in people with an eating disorder. Choosing to eat alone and social isolation can be due to the person experiencing an extreme level of stress and/or anxiety during mealtimes.

 

4. Tiredness and inability to concentrate

People with an eating disorder will find themselves consistently tired, both physically, due to their body not getting the energy it needs, and mentally. Concentrating will be difficult, memory can be affected, and you may see a change in their sleep pattern.

 

5. Frequently visiting the bathroom after eating

This symptom is most associated with the eating disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, and can indicate forced vomiting.

 

6. Eating very slowly and cutting food into small pieces

Engaging in unusual food rituals, such as cutting food into small pieces, chewing each bite excessively or eating slowly, can be an indicator of an eating disorder. These sorts of behavioural changes can be hard to spot but express a preoccupation with food.

 

7. Obsessing over food and calories, experiencing guilt for eating something ‘bad’

Similar to the previous symptom, obsessing over food, calories and ‘safe’ foods can also be a symptom of an ongoing eating disorder, and is generally accompanied by guilt after consuming a food they consider ‘bad’.

 

8. Generalised changes to personality and behaviour

Due to the nature of many eating disorders, people often experience mood swings and changes to behaviour. These can present differently depending on the person, ranging from lack of emotion and irritability to hyperactivity.

 

9. Lying about weight or having already eaten

Eating disorders are quite often kept as a secret from friends or family, leading to the person lying about when they last ate, their weight or disguising any rapid weight loss or gain with baggier clothing.

 

10. Preoccupation with appearance

Dissatisfaction with body shape or appearance is one of the main causes in developing an eating disorder, leading to many of the above symptoms. Fixation of appearance and obsessive weighing, multiple times in one day, can be a symptom of an eating disorder or a warning sign that one is developing.

 

If you are concerned that you or a young person you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, please contact us through our website or directly through email or by calling 07387 417022.

 

Download the factsheet here:

Ten early symptoms of an eating disorder