Eating Disorder Screening

Eating Disorder Screening

This past week was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The goal of this week each year is to raise awareness for eating disorders and help reduce the stigma of this mental health issue. This year, there was an added focus of bringing awareness to how eating disorders effect all people regardless of race, gender, or age. Although most people have some knowledge of eating disorders, many individuals overlook signs that their friends, family, or even their selves are struggling with an eating disorder due to not fitting the stereotype associated with those who suffer from eating disorders. As you continue to read this blog and read the signs associated with eating disorders, I challenge you to objectively assess for these signs in yourself and others in your life.

Eating disorders effect the whole person: emotionally, mentally, behaviorally, and physically. Because of this, there are signs to screen for in each of these areas. Some of the signs are subtler than others, but should not be overlooked. The following list highlights some of the main signs and symptoms to be aware of, but does not include all of the symptoms of eating disorders.

Emotional Sings:

  • Anxiety about eating in front of others or eating in general
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Fear/anxiety related to gaining weight, even normal body fluctuations of 3-5 pounds
  • Disgust or other unhealthy or extremely critical emotions when looking in the mirror
  • Worrying more than others his or her age about weight and body shape
  • Anxiety about hanging out with people at or during a meal time
  • Guilt after eating
  • Anxiety related to lack of control
  • Irritability

Mental Signs:

  • Excessive thinking about food, dieting, or other things related to food consumption and weight loss
  • Weight loss being of primary concern over other important things in his or her life
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restricting his or her diet as a means to find control

Behavioral Signs:

  • Avoiding eating in front of others
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Skipping meals or eating very little at meals
  • Excessively looking in the mirror
  • Frequent comments about his or her body type or weight
  • Regularly going to the bathroom immediately following meals
  • Binge eating, particularly when he or she feels a lack of control in other areas of life
  • Purging
  • Fasting
  • Excessive exercising
  • Frequent dieting
  • Food rituals
  • Emotional eating

Physical Signs:

  • Noticeable weight fluctuations
  • Missed periods or other menstrual irregularities
  • Abnormal hormone levels found in a blood test
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Feeling cold regularly
  • Problems sleeping
  • Dental problems
  • Unhealthy/dry skin, nails, and hair
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired immune system

* It’s important to note that there are different types of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder among other feeding and eating disorders. Each of these have specific signs associated with the diagnosis.

If you identify with some of these signs above or know someone who does, please look into getting help right away from a counselor trained in working with eating disorders or an eating disorder treatment center. Eating disorders can be very dangerous and result in long-term health problems and sometimes result in death. The sooner someone struggling with an eating disorder is able to get help, the better the outcome. For more information about eating disorders visit or take the online screening tool at Also, check back into this blog next week to learn more about how to help a loved one struggling with an eating disorder.


~ Jessica

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