The Signs & Symptoms of Eating Disorders

The odds are that you – or someone very dear to you – suffer from an eating disorder. Know the signs and know that you are not alone in this plight.


The pressures of maintaining a perfectly proportioned body have proved too hard to handle for many celebrities. Models, singers, actors and TV personalities have all fallen victim to eating disorders.

Sadly, eating disorders aren’t strictly reserved for the rich and famous.

In the United States, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some time.  One study estimates that about 500,000 teens struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating.


Eating disorders can also become a problem at all stages of life.

“The women who had eating disorders fell into three distinct categories,” notes clinical researcher Cynthia Bulik, PhD, a Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders in the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Most of them developed disorders in adolescence, recovered, and then relapsed; others never recovered; and some actually developed anorexia or bulimia for the first time later in life.

“But there was one common thread uniting most of the women in the study: Their illness was generally overlooked by doctors.”


A few well-known victims of eating disorders:

Ginger Zee


Candace Cameron Bure

Paula Abdul

Jessica Alba

Portia de Rossi

Lady Gaga

Demi Lovato

Mary Kate Olsen

Sharon Osbourne

Meredith Viera

Kate Winslet


The National Institute of Mental Health says an eating disorder is an illness that causes serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating.

“A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spiraled out of control,” notes the NIMH. “Severe distress or concern about body weight or shape may also signal an eating disorder. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.”


Signs & Symptoms


  • Extreme thinness (emaciation)
  • A relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image, a self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight
  • Lack of menstruation
  • Extremely restricted eating


  • Forced vomiting
  • Excessive use of laxatives or diuretics
  • Fasting
  • Excessive exercise

Binge eating

  • Loss of control over his or her eating
  • Overweight or obese warns: “Eating disorders can cause serious physical problems and, at their most severe, can even be life-threatening. Most people with eating disorders are females, but males can also have eating disorders. An exception is binge-eating disorder, which appears to affect almost as many males as females.

“Treatments for eating disorders usually involve psychotherapy, nutrition education, family counseling, medications and hospitalization.”

If you think you have an eating disorder – or know someone who may be suffering – take action now. The life you save may be your own.



John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.


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