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Perfect Illusions: Eating Disorders and the Family
Help & Resources
Warning Signs
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Warning Signs of Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Dramatic weight loss with no known medical illness.
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams and dieting.
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (i.e., no carbohydrates, etc.).
  • Frequent comments about feeling "fat" or overweight despite weight loss.
  • Denial of hunger.
  • Development of food rituals (i.e., eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate, etc.).
  • Consistent avoidance of mealtimes or situations involving food.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimens despite weather, fatigue, illness or injury, and the need to "burn off" calories taken in.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities, social isolation.
  • Behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
  • Deterioration of school and work performance.
  • Pronounced emotional changes: irritability, suspiciousness, secretiveness, hostility, intolerance.
  • Wearing of over-sized clothing to hide body shape.

Warning Signs of Bulimia Nervosa:

  • Evidence of binge-eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or the existence of wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics.
  • An excessive, rigid exercise regimen, despite weather, fatigue, illness or injury. The need to "burn off" calories taken in.
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
  • Calluses and scars on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
  • Creation of complex lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities, or mood swings.
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
Information provided by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
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