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5 Signs of Disordered Eating

5 Signs of Disordered Eating

Disordered eating is a classification in the DSM-IV, which is the bible of the medical field, to describe a wide range of irregular eating behaviors that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Disordered eating can include behaviors which reflect many but not all of the symptoms of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).

Factors That Lead to Disordered Eating

Culture: In the United States, thinness is a social and cultural ideal, and women are partially defined by how physically attractive they are. We see models in a different light because of how the industry portrays them and puts them out into the spotlight so everyday people see them. Seeing these images of what is attractive, can be diminishing to a young person.

Personal characteristics: Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and poor self-image often accompany eating disorders. Those feelings are a negative influence on how people view themselves.

Other emotional disorders: Other mental health problems, life depression or anxiety, occur along with eating disorders. If a person gets anxiety from day-to-day activities then the person is more likely to develop a habit of disordered eating. They range from having anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Some people just want to eat what they want, then quickly get rid of what they just consumed, or they would rather not have anything at all.

Stressful events or life changes: When people go through events that may cause stress for themselves, then some sort of reaction toward food might occur. If a traumatic event has already happened in a person’s life, particularly when they are younger, then it translates into how they grow up into adolescence.

5 Signs of Disordered Eating

Disordered eating and dieting behavior are the most common indicators of the development of an eating disorder. Eating disorders are severe and life threatening mental illnesses. An eating disorder is not a lifestyle choice.

Signs of Disordered Eating #1: Fasting or chronic restrained eating/restrictive dieting – unbalanced eating (e.g. restricting a major food group such as ‘fatty’ foods or carbohydrates) – as seen with anorexia

Signs of Disordered Eating #2: Skipping meals

Signs of Disordered Eating #3: Binge eating and/or Self-induced vomiting – as seen with bulimia

Signs of Disordered Eating #4: Over use of laxatives, diuretics, and/or enemas; this is a trick people will use to shed weight quickly and it is very dangerous.

Signs of Disordered Eating #5: Using diet pills; either over-the-counter or resorting to amphetamines, this is also a dangerous practice.

Risks Associated with Disordered Eating

The risks associated with disordered eating are severe. People with disordered eating may experience:

  • A clinical eating disorder (Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Otherwise Not Specified)
  • Weight gain
  • Osteoporosis – a condition that can lead to human bones becoming fragile and easy to fracture
  • Fatigue and poor sleep quality
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps


If you or a loved one shows signs of disordered eating, please call toll-free 1-888-672-4435










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