How to Spot an Eating Disorder

By Stacy Jones, MS, RD, LDN

Eating disorders are a mental and psychiatric illness that individuals don’t choose to have, but rather develop due to a host of factors (biological, environmental, genetic and social pressures) at play.

Unlike the common myth that eating disorders are a girls’ disease, eating disorders don’t discriminate. They affect individuals of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Eating disorders are often not easy to spot because of the shame and secretiveness around them, and because one cannot see if the heart is beating strong or bloodwork is normal.

Below is a list of signs and symptoms you may see in an individual struggling with an eating disorder. Most likely those affected will not exhibit all the signs and symptoms at one time, but rather a few may surface at different times. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, please take the steps to learn more about eating disorders at and reach out for help with a dietitian at

Signs and Symptoms

  • Preoccupation with weight, food, and appearance
  • Refusal to eat foods once liked and enjoyed, especially foods higher in fats, carbs or sugar
  • Dramatic fluctuations in weight
  • Withdrawing from family, friends or activities, especially in relation to food (going out to restaurants, family dinners, etc.)
  • Obsessing over exercise and unwilling to have a rest day
  • Mood swings and difficulty concentrating
  • Often complaining of stomach hurting, GI problems (acid reflux, constipation, gets full easily)
Stacy Jones, MS, RD, LDN
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