Spotting an Eating Disorder and Receiving Care as an Adult

Wednesday, Aug 10  •  


In today’s society, there are many myths surrounding eating disorders. One such myth is the idea that this form of mental illness only affects young females who have low self-esteem and body image issues due to popular cultural influences like Instagram ads for “fitspo” accounts which show off weight loss stories. The truth about eating disorders is that they can come in many different forms.

Eating Disorders Among Adults

Stereotypes like those above can be incredibly misleading and hurt the majority of individuals who are indeed struggling with eating disorders. Many older adults who may have an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, may find it more difficult to reach out for help and treatment because they do not fit the “standard” of those expected to have eating disorders.

The reality is that eating disorders impact a variety of people, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or ethnicity. Attempting to put those who are susceptible to having an eating disorder in a box leaves out the millions of other individuals who need help, treatment, and support.

Adults, in particular, are often neglected when it comes to receiving the care they need to navigate their eating disorder recovery.

Signs of an Eating Disorder in Adults

The signs of an eating disorder in adults will vary based on the type of eating disorder whether it is anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or any of the other numerous types of eating disorders. Many individuals will try to hide the signs of an eating disorder because they are embarrassed or in denial and it may be harder to spot as adults tend to have busy lifestyles that limit time spent with loved ones. However, knowing the warning signs can help you know when it’s time to seek help. Primary signs of an eating disorder in adults may include:

  • Rapid weight loss, weight gain, or dramatic weight fluctuations
  • A frequent concern of weight or weighing oneself
  • Excessive exercise
  • Fasting, dieting, restricting or limiting food intake, followed by increased eating/binging
  • Any type of purging after eating
  • Wearing large, bulky clothing to hide weight loss or body shape
  • Excessive use of diuretics or laxatives in an attempt to lose weight
  • Withdrawing from social activities, especially ones that include food
  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety

Receiving Treatment as an Adult

Adults are constantly facing changes whether it be an aging body, changes in relationships, moving, job transitions, etc. As they navigate these changes, it is common to leave their personal needs at the wayside during this phase of life. 

There is also a misconception that an older adult may be “too old” for treatment, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, no matter what your age, please contact us at Avalon Hills. We offer treatment for women of all ages. You deserve help, and the resources you need to improve the quality of your life are available.