Early Signs

As a parent or a friend, you may notice that an individual is losing weight. However, an eating disorder can be hard to spot – the majority of those with eating disorders (particularly in adult life) are either normal weight, or overweight. Eating disorders can often go unnoticed for a long period – symptoms can be easy to hide and are frequently associated with secrecy and shame. An eating disorder is a serious illness which can affect males and females of any ethnicity or weight. The following signs may alert you to the possibility of an eating disorder.

– Making excuses to avoid eating with you
– Skipping meals or eating very little at meals
– Packed lunches coming home uneaten
– Snack food disappearing from your cupboards, or spending lots of money on chocolates, sweets and junk food that you don’t see them eat
– Disappearing to the bathroom straight after meals
– Exercising intensely
– Making negative comments about their appearance or feeling or looking “fat”
– “Checking” their body fat, e.g. pinching the skin on their waist or thighs
– Losing weight, or rapidly gaining weight
– Weighing themselves more often
– Losing interest in things they previously enjoyed
– Getting angry or irritable
– Exercising excessively (strenuous, compulsive exercise and feeling guilty if they miss sessions)
– Missing or irregular periods
– Dental problems
– Withdrawing from social activities, especially if food is involved
– Expressing fear of gaining weight
– Dry skin around their mouth or callouses on their knuckles (these can be signs that they are making themselves vomit)