It's Time To Make Your Body Your Friend: Physical Problems Brought On By Eating Disorders

December 1, 2013   •  Posted in: 

Over the course of a lifetime, the human body can endure a remarkable amount of wear and tear, with a miraculous capacity for resilience and healing. However, what our bodies are not meant to withstand is the kind of abuse they endure as a result of an eating disorder.

In most cases it is years before someone with an eating disorder seeks help — a decision often motivated by physical ramifications that can no longer be ignored. While it is never too late to seek help, the longer you wait, the more damage you do to your body in more ways than you probably realize.

If you are living with an eating disorder, but have yet to seek help, carefully review the following list of physical problems brought on by eating disorders, as outlined in Hope, Help & Healing For Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach To Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating by A Place of Hope Founder Gregory L. Jantz, PhD.


Failure to take in or retain sufficient food and fluid can cause:

  • Insufficient intake of material and fluid
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids

Malnutrition, frequent vomiting, and excessive laxative or diuretic use can cause:

  • Swelling and puffiness, especially in the ankles and feet
  • Swelling over stomach or abdominal area
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • General system problems
  • Salivary Glands

Frequent vomiting can cause:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Possible infection


Lack of body fat, rigorous exercise, emotional distress, and bingeing and purging can cause:

  • No menstrual period
  • Inability to produce hormones


Reduced fluid intake, excessive fluid elimination, frequent vomiting, and laxative abuse can cause:

  • Dryness
  • Fine rash
  • Pimples
  • Dehydration


Inadequate diet, frequent vomiting, and high intake of carbohydrates/sugars can cause:

  • Frequent cavities
  • Erosion of tooth enamel

“Because of the physical strain your relationship with food has put on your body,” says Dr. Jantz, “you may be fighting your denial of the past but also your own body as you attempt to recover. It is vital for you to address the physical — as well as the emotional — ramifications of how you have and are interacting with food.”

Thus, the importance of whole-person care, which not only addresses your emotional and physical needs, but also your mental, relational, and spiritual sides, all of which play a critical role in your recovery.

And even if you have yet to experience the aforementioned symptoms, you likely will if you continue with your disordered eating behavior.

Don’t wait. Seek help now. It’s time to make your body your friend. Look at our eating disorder treatment page for further information. 

Would you like more information about whole-person healing from eating disorders? A Place Of Hope can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch soon.

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

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