PBS Kids GO! It's My Life

Common Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Someone might be suffering from an eating disorder if he or she:

  • Has had a big weight loss in a relatively short period of time.
  • Wears big or baggy clothes, or dresses in layers to hide body shape.
  • Seems obsessed with weight and complains about weight problems (even if they're "average" weight or thin).
  • Seems obsessed with calories and fat content of foods.
  • Seems obsessed with exercising all the time.
  • Often makes trips to the bathroom right after meals (sometimes with water running to hide the sound of vomiting).
  • Starves himself or herself, or limits food.
  • Eats a lot of food at once, then makes himself or herself vomit.
  • Uses or hides the use of diet pills, laxatives, ipecac syrup, or enemas.
  • Seems to be afraid of eating near or with others.
  • Has strange food habits such as shifting the food around on the plate to look eaten; cutting food into tiny pieces; making sure the fork never touches the lips (using teeth to scrap food off the fork or spoon); chewing food and spitting it out, but not swallowing; dropping food into napkin on lap to later throw away.
  • Hides food in strange places (closets, cabinets, suitcases, under the bed) to avoid eating (Anorexia) or to eat at a later time (Bulimia).
  • Flushes uneaten food down the toilet.
  • Visits Web sites that promote unhealthy ways to lose weight.
  • Reads books about weight loss and eating disorders.
  • Says bad things about himself or herself after eating.
  • Seems to be losing hair, or has a pale or "grey" skin complexion.
  • Suffers often from dizziness and headaches.
  • Has lots of sore throats and/or swollen glands.
  • Has low self-esteem or feels "worthless."
  • Complains often about feeling cold.
  • Has bruised or callused knuckles; bloodshot or bleeding in the eyes; light bruising under the eyes and on the cheeks.
  • Has mood swings, depression, or is tired all the time.
  • Is having trouble sleeping.

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