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"How do you know if someone has an eating disorder?"

ZocdocAnswersHow do you know if someone has an eating disorder?


Worried about my new girlfriend. She seems to use the bathroom a lot and always goes after meals. Does she have an eating disorder maybe? How would I be able to tell other than the bathroom stuff? Afraid she's bulimic.


Bulimia is a serious condition characterized by poor body image and episodes of purging (vomiting, diuretics, laxatives) after ingesting food. Unlike anorexia nervosa, which is the other major eating disorder, people with bulimia tend to have more normal body weight; however, the condition is equally dangerous for the body. There is no good way to tell by observation whether or not someone has bulimia. Obviously, if you witness episodes of self induced vomiting or something similar, that is a major tip off. However, there are rarely other external signs. Also, remember that there are many other reasons that someone may go to the bathroom right after eating. For example, some people are lactose intolerant or may have other disorders of the intestines that cause them to have the urge to have bowel movements right after eating. If you are worried about your friend, the most important thing you can do is be a supportive friend to her, and suggest that she go to see her primary care doctor for a general health checkup. Primary care doctors are very attentive to eating disorders, and the annual physical examination includes questions and screening or the common eating disorders as a matter of course.

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