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Warning Signs

Is it an eating disorder?

The warning signs of eating disorders are sometimes hard to detect, especially if the individual denies or purposely hides their struggle with food. Watch for dramatic calorie reduction, purging behaviors, uncontrollable overeating, and/or unrelenting distress about body weight and shape. The Emily Program treats all types of eating disorders in people of all ages.

Know the signs and symptoms of eating disorders

An eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, is classified as a mental illness that affects an individual’s eating habits and causes severe distress about body weight and shape. A person’s disturbed eating patterns may include inadequate nutrition or periods of excessive food intake. Eating disorders are serious, even deadly conditions that can affect any age group, gender, or race. If you or someone you love is struggling with food, schedule an eating disorder assessment with The Emily Program today or call us at 1-888-364-5977 for real help. And real hope.


Eating disorder signs and symptoms

Eating disorders affect a person physically, behaviorally, emotionally, and psychologically. Prominent indications include:

  • Dramatic weight gain or loss
  • Frequently talking about food, weight, and shape
  • Rapid or persistent decline or increase in food intake
  • Excessive or compulsive exercise patterns
  • Purging, restricting, binge eating, or compulsive eating
  • Abuse of diet pills, laxatives, diuretics, or emetics
  • Denial of food and eating problems, despite the concerns of others
  • Eating in secret, hiding food, disrupting meals, feeling out of control with food
  • Medical complications, such as menstrual irregularity, dizziness, fainting, bruising, dry skin, leg cramps, hair loss, brittle hair, osteoporosis, diarrhea, constipation, dental problems, morbid obesity, diabetes, chest pain, heart disease, heartburn, shortness of breath, organ failure, and other serious symptoms
Boys and men struggle with food, too

Boys and men struggle with food, too

Research shows that between 10 and 25 percent of the individuals suffering from an eating disorder are male. However, men tend to talk about their bodies differently than women. For example, men may say they want to lose weight to decrease body fat, while women may talk about losing weight to be thin. Men want to be lean and muscled; women want smaller waistlines. Men want to increase muscle mass; women want to diet. Restricted nutritional intake and over-exercising are common symptoms among males struggling with eating disorders.

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About Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are real, complex illnesses that can cause severe harm. Like schizophrenia or diabetes, eating disorders are not a choice, fad, or phase. Eating disorders are also more prevalent than many people realize, and they rarely resolve on their own. Fortunately, they are treatable. The Emily Program provides personalized treatment plans that help each person on the path to recovery.

Types of eating disorders

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) recognizes five primary types of eating disorders.


Anorexia Nervosa (AN): Anorexia is characterized by extended and extreme food restriction and malnourishment that causes dramatic and sustained weight loss. Anorexia often presents with a fear of gaining weight and other body image issues.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED): BED is categorized by an excessive and uncontrollable consumption of food without the regular use of compensatory measures (purging, laxative use, etc.) to counteract the binge eating.

Bulimia Nervosa (BN): For those with bulimia, food is consumed and then expelled by purging, laxatives or other methods. Bulimia typically presents with a fear of weight gain and other body image concerns.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED): OSFED is a feeding or eating disorder that results in significant distress or life disturbance, but does not meet the criteria for anorexia, binge eating, or bulimia. One example of OSFED is someone who is experiencing most of the symptoms of anorexia but is maintaining a “normal” weight.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): ARFID is a feeding or eating disorder typically driven by fear, a lack of interest in food, or an avoidance of certain foods, resulting in continued failure to meet nutritional needs. ARFID often presents without a drive for thinness.


In addition, people may struggle with food in ways that resemble more than one of the DSM-5 types of eating disorders or they may present symptoms not defined in the DSM-5 categories. The Emily Program treats these as well.

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