Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

There are physical and psychological indicators of eating disorders. Depending on the disorder, some include: Preoccupation with food, weight, and body; Unrelenting fear of gaining weight; Refusal to eat (at all or except for tiny portions); Dehydration; Compulsive exercise; Excessive fine hair on face and body; Distorted body image; Abnormal weight loss; Sensitivity to cold; Absent menstruation; Rapid consumption of a large amount of food; Eating alone or in secret; Abuse of laxatives, diuretics, diet pills, or emetics; Depression; Shame and guilt; Withdrawal

Mental Functioning

  • Feeling dull
  • Feeling Listless
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Difficulty regulating mood
  • Associated mental disorders: depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, substance abuse

Cardiovascular (Heart)

  • Slow irregular, pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Decreased potassium levels may result in lifethreatening cardiac arrhythmias or arrest
  • Electrolyte imbalances may lead to lifethreatening cardiac arrhythmias or arrest

Muscular Skeletal (Bones)

  • Stunted growth in children
  • Stress fractures and broken bones more likely
  • Osteoporosis


  • Enamel erosion
  • Loss of teeth
  • Gum disease
  • “Chipmunk cheeks” swollen salivary glands from vomiting
  • Sore throat because of induced vomiting


  • Painful burning in throat or chest
  • May vomit blood from small tear(s) in esophagus
  • Rupture of the esophagus, may lead to circulatory collapse and death

Endocrine System

  • Thyroid abnormalities
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Cold intolerance
  • Low body temperature
  • Hair becomes thin and may fall out
  • Development of fine body hair as the body’s attempt to keep warm


  • Stomach may swell following eating or binging (causes discomfort and bloating)
  • Gastric rupture due to severe binge eating (gastric rupture has an 80% fatality rate)
  • Vomiting causes severe electrolyte imbalance which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.


  • Normal movement in intestinal tract often slows down with very restricted eating and severe weight loss
  • Frequent Constipation
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements

Complications Associated with Laxative Abuse

  • Kidney complications
  • “Cathartic colon,” refers to the colon’s inability to function normally without the use of large doses of laxatives due to the destruction of the nerves in the colon that control elimination
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Dehydration
  • Potassium depletion
  • Dependence on laxatives
All Content © Copyright 2016 Appleman Nutrition

Fitness Magazine

Appleman Nutrition: Manhattan, Rye, & Greenwich