Recognizing the Signs of an Eating Disorder

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Keeping the lines of communication open and recognizing the signs of an eating disorder can be a catalyst to treatment and recovery.

Recognizing the signs of an eating disorder is crucial for seeking help and accessing the right treatment. Sanford Behavioral Health provides effective outpatient treatment programs (including telehealth) for individuals struggling with eating disorders. Our comprehensive programs are tailored to fit into your everyday life while providing the support and expertise needed for recovery.


Our psychiatrist-led team consists of highly skilled clinicians and medical experts who are dedicated to understanding your unique challenges and guiding you toward a path of healing. You don’t have to face this alone. Call Sanford Behavioral Health today at 844-448-7700 to discover more about our outpatient eating disorder treatment programs. Don’t hesitate to take the first step toward a healthier and happier future.


Eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that can significantly impact every aspect of a person’s life. The signs of an eating disorder are not always apparent, and secretive eating is common and associated with eating disorder psychopathology. Eating disorders are characterized by disturbances in eating behavior and a preoccupation with body weight and shape. If left untreated, eating disorders can have devastating effects on physical and mental health.

Here are five signs that may indicate an eating disorder:

1. Preoccupation with food and intrusive thoughts

People with eating disorders may have obsessive thoughts about food, weight, and appearance. They may spend a significant amount of time counting calories, planning meals, and monitoring their body shape and size.

2. Unhealthy weight loss

Rapid, unintentional weight loss can be a sign of an eating disorder. Individuals with eating disorders may resort to extreme measures such as drastic caloric restriction, skipping meals, purging, or excessive exercise in an attempt to lose weight.

3. Changes in eating habits

Those with eating disorders may exhibit erratic eating behaviors such as restrictive eating, binge eating, or compulsive overeating. They may also follow strict dietary rules, eliminate entire food groups, or develop rigid eating patterns.

4. Withdrawal from life’s activities

As the eating disorder takes hold, individuals may withdraw from social events, hobbies, and activities they used to enjoy. Their entire life can become ruled by an eating disorder. This withdrawal is often driven by a preoccupation with food and body image and a desire to avoid scrutiny from others.

5. Signs of distress, anxiety, or mood changes

People with eating disorders may exhibit emotional and psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings. They may also experience difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and disruptions in sleep patterns.


If you notice any of the above signs in yourself or someone you care about, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Staying diligent and keeping the lines of communication open can be a catalyst to treatment and recovery. Early intervention and treatment are vital for recovery from eating disorders. With appropriate support and therapy, individuals can regain a healthy relationship with food and their bodies and improve their overall well-being.


Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment at Sanford Behavioral Health

When individuals with eating disorders begin outpatient treatment, they are often motivated by a strong desire to regain their previous quality of life. Outpatient treatment allows them to maintain their work or school commitments while receiving the necessary care, facilitating what we term “real-life recovery.” This comprehensive approach typically involves individual therapy, group therapy, and regular medical appointments. In individual therapy, patients collaborate closely with a therapist, dietitian, and recreation therapist to recognize and modify unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.


Group therapy offers a valuable platform for mutual support and encouragement among individuals dealing with similar struggles. Medical appointments are vital for ensuring patients’ physical stability and evaluating potential medical complications. Through consistent dedication and effort, patients can make significant progress toward their goals and ultimately transition to a healthier way of life.


For more information about our Outpatient Eating Disorder Programs,  click the link below:

What is Outpatient Eating Disorder Treatment?


If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, taking action promptly is crucial. At Sanford Behavioral Health, we provide a variety of outpatient and inpatient treatment options for individuals of all ages. Our dedicated team will collaborate with you to create a customized plan tailored to your specific needs. When you’re ready to take that first step towards recovery, reach out to us. We will support you every step of the way and can help you recognize the signs of an eating disorder. 

Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit