Early Indicators of an Eating Disorder

Monday, Jun 22  •  


When it comes to eating disorders, early detection and treatment is essential. Those who suffer from eating disorders often feel compelled to hide their behaviors which can spiral into serious health issues and a more difficult time finding recovery. In today’s blog, we’re sharing some early indicators to watch for that could be red flags that can signal a problem is developing.

  1. Changes in eating patterns. Sudden changes in eating patterns can indicate a potential developing eating disorder. This could look like a sudden obsession over certain foods, avoidance for other foods, and/or a loved one saying they now dislike foods they used to love. This could also present in someone avoiding or skipping meals entirely or avoiding eating their meals in front of others. Sometimes, this sudden change in behavior presents in binging on unhealthy foods/sweets and trying to conceal this from others.
  2. Compulsive exercising. Those with eating disorders often develop unhealthy and compulsive exercise habits. This can appear as ritualistic exercising for long periods of time or focusing on the number of calories burned. If this person has to skip a workout, they may compensate by eating less or restricting food. 
  3. Physical and behavioral changes. Certain physical and behavioral signs can be indicators of an eating disorder. Behaviors to look for can include depression, sudden withdrawal from friends and family, anxiety and irritability, and losing interest in activities that they once loved. The following physical changes that can indicate an eating disorder include fainting spells, low blood pressure, greying skin, and overall fatigue. 
  4. Unhealthy focus on body image. Those with eating disorders may spend a large amount of time looking at and making negative comments about their bodies. They often have a distorted image of themselves despite reassurances from friends and family and will often conceal their body with baggy clothes. 
  5. Preoccupation with diet and nutrition. A sudden preoccupation with perceived “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods can be an indicator of an eating disorder. Restricting foods that are seen as unhealthy and counting calories rigidly are behaviors seen here.

If you’ve seen any of the above behaviors manifest themselves in a loved one, it’s time to have a difficult discussion with them. We recommend setting aside some time to sit down and calmly discuss your concerns with them. Avoid phrases that are accusing them or assuming something because of their actions. This can cause your loved one to react in a way where they will want to hide what they’re experiencing and/or become defensive. Once you’ve voiced your concerns, it’s important to reach out to a professional who can discover the root cause of your loved one’s behaviors and help them find recovery.

At Avalon Hills, we help our clients find sustainable success and recovery. If you’d like to learn more about our program from one of our admissions representatives, click here