Do I Have an Eating Disorder? 15 Common Eating Disorder Signs

common eating disorder signs

Do I have an eating disorder?


I get this question more than I expect; people want to know the common eating disorder signs.


To be officially diagnosed with an eating disorder, you must see your primary care doctor or a licensed mental health professional.


However, below I’m going to share common signs that you might struggle with disordered eating.


15 Commons Eating Disorder Signs


1) you eat the same thing everyday; there’s little variety in your food choices

2) you have rules around what time you can or cannot eat

3) you lie or are secretive about eating and exercise behaviors

4) you find yourself trying to eat as little as possible

5) you think about FOOD a lot during the day, even when not eating

6) you feel out of control around food, like something else takes over

7) you weigh yourself daily

8) you panic or feel anxious when healthy food isn’t available for you to eat

9) you get upset if someone interrupts a workout or you can’t exercise

10) you measure or weigh your food

11) you obsess over a menu before you go to the restaurant

12) you feel extreme guilt or shame after eating

13) you’re obsessed with ingredients in your food

14) you say “no” to social outings where food is involved

15) you “forget to eat” or are too busy to eat


You do not have to have ALL of these to battle disordered eating. Also, just because you do experience some of these does not mean you have an eating disorder.


If any of the above eating disorder signs describe a loved one or a friend, go read how to talk to a friend about an eating disorder.


What to do about it?


Get help. Eating disorders are a mental illness and if you identify with these common eating disorder signs, it is best to take action right away.

eating disorder signs

Tell someone or seek a professional to help you. The best place to start is with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. Psychology Today has a great list of therapists where you can see their speciality and their contact info. Also, visit the NEDA website for even more information.


I also have coaching resources available – a digital 6-month program, Break the Behaviors or you can schedule a free consultation here.



Mental Hunger Cues When Physical Hunger Cues Aren’t Reliable

Mental hunger vs physical hunger

Mental Hunger Cues vs Physical Hunger Cues


We all know what physical hunger feels like. Physical hunger signals include a growling tummy, an empty stomach feeling, or that overall woozy feeling. And yet there may be times you that those signals just aren’t reliable. For example, if you are a chronic dieter or struggle with disordered eating, then you may have to rely on mental hunger cues rather than physical hunger signs.


Months and years of dieting can zap physical hunger cues to where you don’t experience them at all! This does not mean YOU ARE NOT HUNGRY. Simply put, it means your physical hunger signals aren’t reliable.


When you don’t feel hungry ever, then you must rely on mental hunger signs.


What are emotional hunger signals?


Everyone’s mental or emotional hunger signs are different. But the good news is that it’s quite easy to identify them!


Most common mental signs that you might be hungry:


  • headache

  • fatigue / lack of energy

  • thinking about food (what you want to eat, planning meals, when you’ll eat, etc)

  • feeling annoyed that you’re not physically feeling hungry

  • impatient or easily rattled

  • craving / thinking of a specific type of food (i.e. crunchy, salty, sweet)

  • anxiety

  • OCD behaviors (i.e. tearing food etc)

  • conditional thinking (i.e. as long as I exercise, I’m allowed to eat)

  • dizzy / light headed


Tired mental hunger cue


Some people in eating disorder recovery experience ‘extreme hunger‘. It feels as if no matter how much you eat, you never feel satisfied. If this is you, make sure you’re working with a professional and honoring your mental hunger.


Don’t ignore mental hunger cues


It can be tempting to ignore the mental hunger signs. After all, you may not feel physically hungry. But when you ignore the mental cues, you give the eating disorder momentum. And the eating disorder voice gets LOUDER, showing up more often. You feel more fatigued, more annoyed and have more obsessive food thoughts.


Also, when you ignore these hunger cues and deprive yourself, you are more likely to binge later on.


digital eating disorder coaching


Try honoring a mental cue and see what happens. Observe and notice: did the mental cue dissipate? Did it go away entirely?


In the same way that our physical hunger cues go away after we eat, our mental cues should go away too.


We all have them


Everyone has mental hunger. Anytime you’ve gone awhile (i.e. several hours) without eating and tell yourself “I don’t feel hungry”, it’s likely that you’re missing the mental hunger cues. Pay close attention.


Make a list of what yours might be. Take note of the times you start thinking about food and ask yourself – how long has it been since I’ve last eaten? If it has been over 2.5 hours, chances are YOU ARE HUNGRY. Honor that; don’t write it off.


Every time you honor your mental hunger cues, YOU are winning over ED. Your voice will get stronger and stronger. Maybe to the point where your physical cues come back and are 100% reliable.