Most Americans can sympathize or empathize with wanting to lose weight or get in shape. But eating disorders go far beyond that. Anorexia nervosa is a serious disorder with dangerous behaviors that go beyond just wanting to be healthy. And anorexia isn’t just “painfully skinny” people; large or obese individuals can struggle with these disorders.

Symptoms of Anorexia

Anorexia isn’t just “being too thin.” While dramatic weight loss and inability to gain weight is an important characteristic, there are additional symptoms as well that mark the difference between an extreme diet and an eating disorder.

Behavioral and Emotional:

  • Extreme fear of gaining weight despite low body weight
  • Dislike of eating in public
  • Hunger denial
  • Layering clothing to hide weight loss or stay warm
  • Preoccupied with weight, diet, and/or calories
  • Poor body image
  • Eating or food rituals (e.g. “playing” with food, only eating in a certain order, over-chewing)
  • Making excuses to avoid meals or gatherings involving food
  • Inflexible thinking
  • Need for control
  • Poor body image


  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Stomach cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Sleep problems
  • Menstrual irregularities or loss of period
  • Dry skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Thinning and brittle hair
  • Weakness
  • Inability to heal well (such as with bruises and cuts)
  • Poor immune system
  • Chilliness

Reach Out

Do you suspect a friend or someone you love of having an eating disorder? Do you suspect you have one? Get help for yourself or for someone you care for. The deficiencies caused by anorexia can lead to death or cardiac arrest. But not if you catch it soon! Reach out today!