NEDA Week: Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

“Anorexia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.” (


  • Dramatic loss of weight
  • Denial
  • Obsession with weight, diet, and appearance
  • Avoidance of social situations involving food
  • Obsession with exercise
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Wearing baggy clothes to disguise weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Decline in work, school, or athletic performance
  • Hair loss, dry hair, bitter nails
  • Loss of muscle mass and tone
  • Loss of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
  • Constipation

(NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training)


Bulimia Nervosa

“Bulimia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.” (


  • Self-induced vomiting (at least twice a week for three months)
  • Use of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas
  • Excessive exercise
  • Overly concerned with body image
  • Weight fluctuations of more than 10 pounds and/or rapid weight changes
  • Traces of odor of vomit on breath
  • Scabs or scars on knuckes
  • Puffy face and cheeks
  • Broken blood vessels in face and eyes
  • Sore throat and/or dental problems
  • Erratic performance in work, sport, and academics
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

(NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training)


Binge Eating Disorder

“Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening and treatable eating disorder.”


  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating when not physically hungry
  • Eating alone due to embarrassment about how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after eating
  • Stealing, hiding, or hoarding food
  • Engaging in sporadic fasting or repetitive dieting
  • Disruption in normal eating behaviors and normal mealtimes
  • Can involve extreme restriction and rigidity with food
  • Changing schedule to make time for binging sessions
  • Feelings of disgust about one’s body size
  • Rigid “all or nothing” thinking
  • A strong need to feel in control/perfectionism
  • Joint pain



Orthorexia Nervosa

“Those who have an ‘unhealthy obsession’ with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from ‘orthorexia nervosa,’ a term which literally means ‘fixation on righteous eating.’ Orthorexia starts out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but orthorexics become fixated on food quality and purity…. Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.  Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous.”



  • Obsessive concern over the relationship between food choices and health concerns
  • Increasing avoidance of foods because of food allergies without medical advice
  • Drastic reduction in opinions of acceptable food choices
  • Irrational concern over food preparation techniques
  • Feelings of guilt when deviating from strict diet guidelines
  • Increase in amount of time spent thinking about food
  • Regular advance planning of meals for the next day
  • Feelings of satisfaction, esteem, or spiritual fulfillment from eating “healthy”
  • Thinking critical thoughts about others who do not adhere to rigorous diets
  • Fear that eating away from home will make it impossible to comply with diet
  • Distancing from friends or family members who do not share similar views about food
  • Avoiding eating food bought or prepared by others
  • Worsening depression, mood swings or anxiety



Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

“Formerly described at Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) in the DSM-IV, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), is a feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for another feeding or eating disorder.”

“Examples of OSFED Include:

  • Atypical anorexia nervosa (weight is not below normal)
  • Bulimia nervosa (with less frequent behaviors)
  • Binge-eating disorder (with less frequent occurrences)
  • Purging disorder (purging without binge eating)
  • Night eating syndrome (excessive nighttime food consumption)

The commonality in all of these conditions is the serious emotional and psychological suffering and/or serious problems in areas of work, school or relationships. If something does not seem right, but your experience does not fall into a clear category, you still deserve attention.”




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