5 Signs a Loved One May Have an Eating Disorder

A loved one you care deeply about seems to be acting strangely. Maybe they are skipping meals or making things reasons to get out of eating. You may be worried that they have an eating disorder but don’t know the signs and symptoms of such a problem. Therefore, you’re at a loss when it comes to figuring out how to help. 

At Mindful Urgent Care, Dr. Ram Pardeshi and the rest of our team want to make sure you have all the facts when it comes to the dangers of an eating disorder. More often than not, it’s a friend or family member who discovers the issue and can help their loved one find help. 

Defining an eating disorder 

Someone who simply skips a meal because they forget to eat isn’t necessarily suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are severe mental health issues that require treatment, often in the form of both therapy and medication. According to the National Library of Medicine, there are three main types of eating disorders, all of which are serious medical conditions. 

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa sufferers completely avoid eating food whenever possible, exercise more often than necessary, and set boundaries on their eating. People who struggle with this disorder for a prolonged period might become extremely underweight and unhealthy as a result of their self-imposed restrictions. 

Bulimia nervosa 

People who suffer from bulimia nervosa will alternate back and forth between binge-eating and purging food. They may force themselves to throw up or use laxatives to evacuate their bowels often and quickly. 


Binge-eating is another form of eating disorder where people do not have control over their eating. They may eat until they feel extremely full, even uncomfortable, and continue eating past the point of satiating hunger. Afterward, they will usually feel ashamed or guilty about their eating. 

Recognizing an eating disorder

When a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, certain signs and symptoms will begin to show over time. It’s important to be aware of these to help them recognize the severity of their problem. The top five signs that a loved one might have an eating disorder are listed below. 

1. Obsession with weight 

People who have eating disorders are often extremely concerned with their own or others’ weight loss, gain, and simply weight in general. They might talk excessively about what they eat or don’t eat, as well as new fad diets, their personal weight loss goals, and other similar topics. No matter how the conversation starts, it often comes back to weight. 

2. Fluctuations or changes in weight 

Whether a loved one is strictly controlling their food intake or eating obsessively, you’ll notice the difference in their appearance. They will either start to gain or lose weight rapidly, or they might fluctuate often between gaining and losing weight. When they discuss their situation, however, they may seem unaware of this. For example, someone with anorexia nervosa will always believe they need to lose more weight, even if they are already extremely thin. 

3. Strange relationship with food

Your loved one may eat obsessively and often, always eating something throughout the day. They might also make excuses to get out of eating or leave directly after a meal to purge the food they just ate. As stated before, they might also always be looking for a new diet to try, which will largely impact their relationship with food. 

4. High or low energy 

Eating disorders can often cause low energy, especially in those who are eating obsessively and are unhappy afterward. On the other hand, those with anorexia nervosa may also feel extremely low-energy and ill because they are essentially starving themselves. In some cases, these individuals may also have very high energy, trying to take on everything at once and to cover up their problem with a veil of perfectionism. 

5. Depressed or anxious moods

Often, eating disorders are about control in a world where the sufferer feels they are lacking it. A loved one with an eating disorder might seem depressed or anxious in addition to their other symptoms. The eating disorder might be compounded by a mood disorder. These issues often co-occur, and depression and anxiety disorders can play a role in causing or intensifying eating disorders in many cases. 

Do you think your loved one might be suffering from an eating disorder? If so, we want to help. Contact one of our four New York City area offices today, or you can book an appointment online at your convenience. 

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