It’s very important to note that though a person might not meet all of the below diagnostic and qualitative criteria, they might still present with a serious medical illness. It is strongly recommended that a person seek help as soon as a problem is suspected.

What Your Loved One Might Be Experiencing

While it is alarming and somewhat confusing to watch someone you respect and care about engage in behaviors that are unsafe, it helps to consider where they are coming from. A person with anorexia nervosa be be experiencing the following:

  • An intense and irrational fear of gaining weight, despite logical reasoning that indicates otherwise
  • A constant shift in self-perception. An extremely underweight person might see the reality of their body’s shape one minute and perceive themselves as much heavier the next
  • A desire to stop their behaviors, but a feeling of helplessness in doing so
  • Mental obsession with food
  • Feelings of fear of panic when confronted with a situation that involves eating
  • Loneliness from isolating
  • An intense desire to protect their eating disorder
  • Trouble sleeping due to hunger pangs
  • A disconnection from the severity of the problem

Criteria for Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is medical disorder characterized by a person’s perpetual restriction of their own caloric intake, leading to a body weight significantly below that individual’s normal threshold.

To be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa according to the DSM-5, the following criteria must be met:

  • Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape


What you might notice

  • Rapid and extreme weight loss
  • A reluctance to eat around others or out in public
  • A  preoccupation with tracking measurable component of intake (calories, fat grams, macros/micros)
  • Use of layers or baggy clothing for warm and to hide body shape
  • Your loved one engaging in ritualistic eating behaviors (cutting or tearing food, separating by color/content, etc.)
  • Amenorrhea in females: an abnormal absence of menstruation, or loss of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles
  • Loss of energy
  • Thinning of hair, dryness of skin and brittle nails
  • Frequent or daily weighing, using a scale
  • Body checking: This may look like pinching of the skin, measuring of the arms and legs by wrapping the hands around the limbs, or using reflective surfaces to visually check in
  • Obsession with recipes and cooking shows despite the reluctance to eat
  • Cooking for the family or friends without participating in the meal
  • Food hoarding
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood instability
  • Complaints of light headedness

Our Mission

Providing critical resources and support to those navigating a loved one's path to full recovery from an eating disorder