Melrose Center: Eating Disorders: Types and Treatments

Find a doctor at Melrose Center
Make an Appointment

952-993-5599 fax

Already a patient? Request an appointment with MyChart.

Contact Us

Complete our online form for more information on eating disorders and Park Nicollet Melrose Center.

Could it be an eating disorder? We can help - call 952-993-6200.

Could it be an eating disorder? Most eating disorders start with a weight loss diet.  So, at what point does disordered eating turn into a full-fledged eating disorder?  If you suspect you or a loved one may be at that point, please review these symptoms or answer the screening questions provided under the General Signs tab below.  

General Signs

General Signs of an eating disorder:

  • Eliminating entire food groups from what they eat each day
  • Skipping meals and often saying they are not hungry
  • Filling up only on low-calorie foods or using gum and water to feel full
  • Becoming isolated from friends
  • Making excuses for not eating socially
  • Eating erratically by overeating, undereating or eating fast
  • Eating in isolation
  • Talking constantly about food, calories and weight while restricting what they eat
  • Exercising excessively to make up for eating

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia: patients are considered to suffer from anorexia when they refuse to maintain a body weight at or above 85% of their ideal body weight.  Extreme weight loss is typically accomplished by vomiting or laxatives, though purging can also be done through fasting or excessive exercise.  

Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa:

  • Low body weight (15 percent or more below normal body weight)
  • Hair loss, dry skin and brittle nails
  • Growth of fine hair on the body and face
  • Reduced body temperature and sensitivity to cold
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Loss of menstrual period in women
  • Reduced testosterone levels in men
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Excessive dieting, food rituals and fasting
  • Eliminating entire food groups
  • Skipping meals
  • Filling up on low calorie foods or using gum and water to feel full
  • Tension at mealtimes; sometimes refusing to eat with family or friends
  • Obsession with food and eating - constantly talking about food, calories and being fat
  • exercising excessively to make up for eating
  • frequently weighing themselves
  • layering clothes to hide weight loss
  • isolating themselves from others
  • depression
  • irritability
  • distorted body image
  • low sense of self-worth
  • intense fear of becoming overweight
  • perfectionism - wanting to be the thinnest, smartest, neatest
  • difficulty thinking clearly, poor concentration
  • denial - usually does not want help


Bulimic patients are characterized by cyclical tendencies to eat very large amounts of food (bingeing), then expel the food (purging).  Purging is typically done by means of vomiting or laxatives, though it can also be achieved by excessive fasting or exercise.  

Bulimia nervosa symptoms:

  • Burst blood vessels in eyes
  • Dry skin and dry, brittle hair
  • Weight changes caused by bingeing and fasting (though weight may be normal)
  • Swollen glands along the jaw and cheeks, and puffiness around the face
  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Abdominal pain and constipation
  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Dehydration and loss of potassium and sodium, which can lead to irregular heart rhythms and cardiac arrest
  • Fasting
  • Eating erratically by overeating, undereating or eating very quickly
  • Vomiting or abusing laxatives, diuretics, diet pills or ipecac, a drug that induces vomiting
  • Excessive exercising
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Hoarding food
  • Eating in secret
  • Shoplifting or petty stealing for money to buy food
  • Being promiscuous (having casual sex) as a mask for the desire to be accepted
  • Fear of being unable to stop eating
  • Constant preoccupation with food control
  • Perfectionism - high performance and achievement expectations
  • Preoccupation with appearance
  • unable to identify and express feelings
  • constant feeling of being out of control
  • low self-esteem and depression
  • appears normal and "together"
  • Usually want help desperately, but won't ask
  • Suicidal thoughts

Binge Eating

Binge Eaters eat very large amounts of food.  It commonly occurs alongside bulimia--when a patient purges after their binge--though a patient may not purge after an episode of binge eating.  

Binge eating disorder symptoms:

  • Normal weight or overweight
  • Frequently losing and regaining weight (do to yo-yo dieting)
  • Repeated episodes of bingeing (eating abnormally large amounts of food)
  • Eating large amounts of food while feeling a loss of control over their eating
  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
  • Eating beyond the point of being comfortably full
  • Eating alone out of embarrassment at the quantity of food being eaten
  • Eating much more rapidly than usual
  • Feelings of shame or self-loathing after a binge
  • Frequent feelings of being unable to control what or how much is being eaten
  • Feelings of disgust, depression or guilt after overeating

Eating Disorder Facts

  • Eating disorders affect over 14 million Americans
  • Half of all Americans know someone personally that suffers from an eating disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness--between 10-20% of sufferers die
  • Anorexia is also the third most common chronic illness among adolescents
  • Eating disorders can develop because of genetics, but many cases result as issues of negative body image
  • Eating disorders produce serious physical and mental side effects--depression, anxiety, cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, infertility, brain damage and death are common
  • Depression is commonly associated with eating disorders--patients with anorexia nervosa are over 50 times more likely to die of suicide than their peers
  • Around 10% of people suffering from eating disorders are men


The goal of treating any eating disorder is to regain a healthy approach to eating, exercise and perceived body image.  Park Nicollet's care team provides both emotional and physical support for our patients through meetings with nutritionists, psychologists, dietitians, doctors and other eating disorder experts.  A dedicated team will be at your side throughout your recovery providing a highly personalized approach to recovery - ensuring you get all the support you need.