Do I Have An Eating Disorder?
By Abigail Natenshon
Author of When Your Child Has An Eating Disorder

Here is a quiz to help you figure this out.

  • I worry that I am too fat, or that I will lose self-control when I eat and become too fat.
  • I take a long time to find what to wear because I hate the way I look.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about what I ate and what I will eat, so much so that it disturbs my sleep and my concentrating in school.
  • I am excessive in spheres of my life that are outside of food and eating.
  • I am not comfortable eating in front of others.
  • I carry my own food to social events in case there is nothing there that I can eat.
  • I feel compelled to restrict what I eat through vegetarianism and/or veganism.
  • I consistently over-exercise.
  • If I do not exercise, I feel anxious or depressed.
  • I am a black and white thinker. I see things simplistically.
  • I believe that avoiding or pretending not to see a problem is a better solution than trying to solve problems.
  • I am typically not aware of what I feel.
  • I feel responsible for the well being of others before myself.
  • I have lost a lot of weight precipitously.
  • I am very thin but refuse to acknowledge that I am thin enough.
  • I am often depressed.
  • I am compulsive about how I do things.
  • I often feel out of control of my life.
  • I find a sense of comfort in eating in prescribed or ritualistic ways.
  • I take laxatives, diuretics, syrup of Ipecac, or diet pills.
  • I purge my food.
  • I chew my food and spit it out into my napkin.
  • I overeat sometimes on certain kinds of foods.
  • I restrict foods, or certain food groups.
  • I only eat fat-free or light foods.
  • I skip meals.
  • I only eat when I am hungry, or when I absolutely have to.
  • I must eat foods at specific times and in a specific order.
  • I have missed social gatherings because they would prevent me from eating when and how I need to eat.
  • I have become more withdrawn lately.
  • I load up on water before eating so I am not hungry for meals.
  • I weigh myself every day, sometimes more than once a day.
  • I feel it's a bad day if my weight has gone up even an ounce.
  • I am critical of others who are fat.
  • I am overly concerned with every aspect of my appearance.
  • I hide food.

The symptoms of eating disorders often fall into clusters.
If a majority of these items describe you, you may have, or may be on your way to developing, an eating disorder.

Remember that by making the right moves now, you can prevent an eating disorder from starting or from taking hold. Don’t be afraid to solicit assistance from your family and/or health professionals should you need it.

Psychotherapist Abigail H. Natenshon has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders with individuals, families, and groups for the past 28 years. She is the author of When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: A Step-by-Step Workbook for Parents and Other Caregivers, Jossey Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA. October 1999. Based on hundreds of successful outcomes, this book shepherds concerned parents step-by-step through the processes of eating disorder recognition, confronting the child, finding the most effective treatment for patient and family, and evaluating and insuring a timely recovery. A guide to eating disorder prevention, this book is useful to parents, health professionals and school personnel alike in countering the pervasive epidemic of unhealthy eating and body image concerns, and destructive media and peer influences. Her work can be reviewed further at her web site at To order visit

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