What to Look For

In this section, you can learn about the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and physical symptoms associated with eating problems. The symptoms listed are ones that first emerge and there may be other symptoms that develop later.

NOTE: Many of the behaviours can be dangerous or harmful to your health

Click on the boxes in the image below to learn more about the symptoms of eating problems.

Behaviours: Deny your hunger and don't eat when you're hungry. Go on diets often. Have strict rules about what you can and cannot eat. Eat less and less over time. Count calories for everything you eat. Spend a lot of time exercising to burn off calories or to punish yourself for eating. Prefer to eat alone and secretive about eating habits. Use steroids and protein drinks to build muscle. Try to avoid social situations where people will be eating. Argue with others when they say you should eat more or exercise less. Stop doing activities that were fun or important to you.
Feelings: Feel guilt or shame after eating large amounts of food. Feel you are worthless or don't deserve food. Feel out of control when you go on an eating binge.
Thoughts Signs: Think constantly about what you will eat (or not eat) and/or when you will exercise. Believe that if you lose weight or look different you will be happier. See eating as one of the only things you have control over. Believe people would like you more if you were thinner or looked different. Are confused when your friends and family say that you look too thin, because you don't see yourself that way. Find it hard to focus and concentrate at school or work.

Not everyone experiences the same set of symptoms or to the same level. A person may be diagnosed with an eating disorder when symptoms persist, are very distressing and interfere in a person’s life. Being able to spot these symptoms and taking action can prevent problems from getting worse.


Concerned About a Friend?

Often friends notice changes that may signal an emerging mental health challenge. For information on how to support a friend, visit Supporting your friend through tough times.