Signs of a Hidden Eating Disorder

Many people believe they would be able to spot an eating disorder right away. We’re given stereotypical images of frail women no more than skin and bones. The truth is though that many people are able to hide their eating disorder for a long time before people learn about it. Both men and women go to great lengths to cover it up. Weight loss is an obvious sign but not one that is always immediately apparent. If you’re concerned someone your know or love is suffering from an eating disorder look for the following signs that they might be hiding one.

Strict Rules
Almost everyone goes on a diet at some point in their life. People hiding an eating disorder though will have very strict rules about their eating habits. These rules will become increasingly strict even if weight loss is happening. Their rules might not be logical to an average person.

Binge Eating
Binge eating is a common symptom of eating disorders. It’s when someone ingests a large amount of food in a short period of time. The person often feels like they lose control during this eating. This one might be a little harder to notice because if someone is hiding an eating disorder they will binge in secret. A sign of this will be empty wrappers and containers in their room. If questioned about them they might claim they from a spread out time period.

Hoarding Food
A common sign you may notice when someone is hiding an eating disorder is the hoarding of food. A person will have stockpiles ready for their binge eating session. Hidden snacks, and lots of it, in a person’s living quarters- typically their bedroom for the best secrecy- should be a warning sign.

Post-Eating Bathroom Trips
This is one of the biggest warning signs you can notice. People hiding eating disorders will habitually visit the bathroom after eating. This will be one of the hardest habits for them to hide and one of the easiest for you to notice. If there are any noises, smells, or stains after or during their post-eating bathroom trips contact a mental health profession.

Pill Aid
Many people with eating disorders will use diet pills or laxatives to aid with their weight loss. The use of these will be over the normal or recommended amount. Look for signs of them ingesting them. Overusing these pills and laxatives can have dangerous consequences beyond eating disorders so getting help and stopping this is important.

Drug Aid
What many people don’t realize is that people with eating disorders will use illicit drugs, or abuse prescription ones, to achieve weight loss. They will use stimulant medications like Adderall or stimulant drugs like cocaine to suppress their appetite. Any abuse of drugs is cause for worry but if you notice it in addition to some of the other signs of a hidden eating disorder you should seek out help.

Compulsive Exercise
Exercise is a healthy part of life. Many people have routines that they stick to ritually. Too much of a good thing turns it into a bad thing, though. If someone you know is compulsively exercising, typically multiple times a day and for several hours, this is cause for concern. This is done in an effort to lose weight but they can push it too far. The danger is that they work out to the point of dehydration and passing out.

Social Withdrawal
Not all the signs of a hidden eating disorder are physical or behavioral. A change in social interactions is also a sign. People with eating disorders will withdrawal from family and friends to avoid questions. Obsessions over their weight and appearance will make them not want to be seen and take up any time that use to be spent on social interactions.

Preoccupation with Body or Weight
People with eating disorders, even one’s trying to keep it hidden, will have an obsessive with their weight, body, and appearance. Even as they try to hide it, signs of their obsession will come out. If you notice that your friend or family member is hyper focused on their image consider it a warning sign. Start looking for the other signs listed above and seek help.

Eating disorders can progress quickly and intensely. People often miss the warning signs until it’s too late. Weight change isn’t the only thing to look for. It’s also important to remember that both males and females, of all ages, can suffer from eating disorders. If you think someone your know or love is hiding one contact our Delray Beach eating disorder treatment center so you can work towards getting them help.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez


Existing patients, please text 561-409-7296 for follow-up appointment requests or if you have medication concerns please text 561-409-7296.