Do I Have an Eating Disorder? 7 Warning Signs You Shouldn't Ignore
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Given the world we live in, it’s normal to have a somewhat complicated relationship with food and your body. But if that complexity is leading to concerning habits or behaviors, you may have asked yourself, “do I have an eating disorder?” Assessing your routines and eating patterns is the first step to finding the answer and seeking help if you need it.

Of course, doing so isn’t always easy. If you’re struggling, it can be hard to look at your condition from a neutral perspective; but by learning more about potential warning signs, you can view your behaviors in a more objective way and assess whether or not you may be struggling with an eating disorder.

7 warning signs that you may have an eating disorder

1. Persistent weight changes

Have you experienced sudden and significant weight changes? Rapid weight gain or loss can be an indicator that you have an eating disorder. If there’s no clear external or medical cause for your weight change, an eating disorder could be the culprit. That said, it’s worth noting that someone without any perceivable weight changes can still be suffering from an eating disorder.

2. Preoccupation with food

Are your thoughts dominated by food and dieting? Thinking about your next meal or grocery trip isn’t necessarily cause for alarm, but constant thoughts may signal an unhealthy relationship with eating. People who have an eating disorder may get distracted by pervasive food-related thoughts, like repetitive thoughts about calories and nutritional content or obsessive ruminations about what they’re going to eat or have eaten.

3. Disordered eating habits

Disordered eating habits are, unsurprisingly, one of the biggest signs of an eating disorder. Such habits might include skipping meals, extreme portion control (weighing or measuring everything you eat), avoiding certain foods or food groups, or rigidity around what or when you eat.

4. Anxiety around meals

Emotional changes around meals can be a major warning sign that you have an eating disorder. People with eating disorders may experience feelings of anxiety and distress around mealtimes. For example, you might get stressed out in anticipation of a meal or feel guilty after eating. Emotional turmoil connected to eating can contribute to a harmful cycle or using food to cope with negative emotions, which then tends to trigger more negative emotions.

5. Physical distress

If you’re not properly nourishing your body, it will start to take a physical toll. Noticeable changes could include hair loss and brittle nails, gastrointestinal issues, a weakened immune system, increased risk of injury, and always being cold, among other issues. If you notice your relationship with eating and exercise is causing you frequent physical stress, that’s a good indication to seek support.

6. Secrecy and rituals

Feelings of self-consciousness and shame can lead to secrecy around certain eating habits. You may hide food, eat in secret, or develop rituals around mealtimes. Starting to connect with others and shed secrecy around eating habits is a massive step in the recovery process.

7. Body dissatisfaction and body dysmorphia

Constantly thinking about, criticizing, and observing your body (a habit known as body checking) are all common symptoms for people with eating disorders. Some people also experience body dysmorphia, where they have a distorted view of their body.

What to do if you think you have an eating disorder

Eating disorders show up in different ways in different people—there are other warning signs that aren’t included in the list above, and you don’t need to have all (or even most) of these warning signs to have an eating disorder. Listen to your gut: if you’re concerned about yourself or your loved one, your safest and smartest bet is to get a professional assessment. The longer an eating disorder goes untreated, the more challenging it is to treat (though full recovery is possible for everyone, regardless of how long they’ve been struggling).

If you have an eating disorder, getting quality treatment is important. Finding a provider that offers innovative, evidence-based care can help you make lasting progress. At Equip, we believe in delivering personalized care tailored to the needs and priorities of each patient. Our team can provide a range of integrated interventions to help you succeed in finding lasting recovery. Our treatment is also fully virtual, meaning it fits into your life and around your schedule while still providing the intensive, wraparound care you need to begin to heal.

Get in touch with our team today for more information or to schedule an initial consultation.

About Tana Luo, PhD

Dr. Tana Luo, Equip’s Director of Program Development, is a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. She completed her predoctoral and postdoctoral training at the UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center. She specializes in treating pediatric and adolescent eating disorders and has in-depth experience working with children, adolescents, and adults at different levels of care.

Randy Smith
Content Writer
Clinically reviewed by:
Tana Luo, PhD
Director of Program Development at Equip
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