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Signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa can be wide and varied, but there are warning signs or certain “red flags” to watch for before more serious physical symptoms appear. People with anorexia develop ritualistic eating habits like cutting their food into tiny pieces to make it appear they are actually eating. They may prepare huge meals for others, but don’t eat it themselves or refuse to eat in front of others. Food and weight become an obsession. The most frightening sign is that people with anorexia nervosa continue to believe they look fat even though they are very thin. Signs and symptoms of anorexia involve physical, emotional and behavioral aspects.

Signs of anorexia nervosa:

Skipping meals
Making excuses for not eating
Eating only a few certain "safe" low-calorie foods
Adopting eating rituals, such as cutting food into tiny pieces or spitting food out after chewing
Weighing food
Cooking elaborate meals for others but refusing to eat
Excessive weighing of themselves
Frequently checking themselves in the mirror
Wearing baggy or layered clothing
Complaining about being fat
Deliberate self-starvation with weight loss
Fear of gaining weight
Refusal to eat
Denial of hunger
Constant, excessive exercising
Complaining of being too fat when the person is actually very thin

Physical Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa

Greater amounts of hair on the body or the face
Sensitivity to cold temperatures
Absent or irregular periods
Loss of scalp hair
Extreme weight loss
Extreme thin appearance
Abnormal blood counts
Dizziness or fainting
Brittle nails
Hair that breaks or falls out
Soft, downy hair covering the body
Absence of menstruation
Dry skin
Intolerance of cold
Irregular heart rhythms
Low blood pressure


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