Did Gabrielle Anwar have an eating disorder? (5 symptoms of exercise bulimia)

In this blog post, we shall answer the question “did Gabrielle Anwar have an eating disorder?” and look at Gabrielle’s story about her diet and fitness journey. We shall also look at what exercise bulimia is and the symptoms.

Did Gabrielle Anwar have an eating disorder?

It is not certain that Gabrielle Anwar suffered from an eating disorder. However, the media is filled with speculations about whether the British-American actress suffered from an eating disorder. Some came to this conclusion due to her slender body frame that shows her muscles and bones.

Others feel that the actress is very healthy and her body depicts that of a healthy, strong woman who works out regularly. She has not addressed the rumours and has not confirmed or denied the allegations of having an eating disorder. Before we look at Anwar’s fitness journey, let us look at who she is.

Who is Gabrielle Anwar?

She is a British-American actress. She is well known for her role as Sam Black in the second series of Press Gang, Margaret Tudor in the first season of The Tudors, Lady Tremaine in season 7 of Once upon a time and starring role as Fiona Glenanne in burn notice. She became a US citizen in 2008.

At 40 years, Gabrielle’s body is in perfect shape. While some people speculate that this could be due to an underlying eating disorder, she attributes it to her diet plan and fitness exercise program. 

When asked about her weight-loss diet plan, Gabrielle says, “My healthy weight-loss diet plan is according to Ayurvedic [India’s 5,000-year-old system of traditional medicine] principles. I love incorporating Ayurveda’s six tastes–bitter, sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and astringent–into one simple, satisfying meal in my diet plan. When I feed myself one dish with all these flavours, I am fulfilled. My favourite Ayurvedic meal is Khichdi [a lentil and rice dish]–it makes me feel nourished and warm.”

When she travels, she looks for local health food restaurants. She also carries dry seaweed as a plane snack and because it is salty, she drinks a lot of water. She, however, says that she has a weakness for Belgian chocolate.

Her fitness exercise program, she says, is the secret to her great body. Gabrielle Anwar started exercising as a young girl when she had dance fitness training and it helped her do the Tango. She credits her yoga fitness program for stripping off unnecessary fats so she could play the role of an ex-IRA operative in the USA’s burn notice. This probably sparked the rumours of her having an eating disorder.

When asked about her fitness exercise, she said “My fitness exercise and weight loss goal is not to target the area that might be less toned than another, my fitness exercise and weight loss goal is to feel that during each pose, I bring awareness into each muscle, each space around each muscle, each joint, each space around each joint, and so on and so on, so that I do not neglect a single part of my whole.”

Gabrielle attributes her confidence to her inner world and says that her external self is dependent on that. “My own personal confidence comes from my inner world. My external self is entirely dependent on that. When I do my fitness exercise program, it is gentle and nourishing. There is no battle with my bulge. There is no battle.”

What we can learn from Gabrielle’s story in relation to eating disorders.

We are happy for Gabrielle if dieting and fitness programs are working for her. Many people might want to emulate her but always remember that everyone has a unique way of remaining healthy and fit. We have seen many people becoming obsessed with dieting and exercising which triggers an eating disorder.

Moderation is key when dieting and exercising. As Gabrielle said, confidence should come from within and not from the external self. People who use their external self as a way of getting confidence might over-exercise and cause the development of a disorder called exercise bulimia.

What is exercise bulimia?

Gabrielle Anwar is suspected to have exercise bulimia. This is because of her exercise routine, which she says is for weight loss. Exercise bulimia is a form of obsessive or compulsive exercise as a way of purging. People with exercise bulimia use exercise as a way to cut calories from binge eating or even regular eating.

Exercises are done as a way of controlling weight. This disease mostly goes unnoticed, as onlookers may interpret excessive exercise as a way of being focused on health and fitness. The weight of a person with exercise bulimia may not be necessarily low as the body compensates for the extreme exercises by slowing down metabolism. This could be the case with Gabrielle Anwar.

Warning signs of exercise bulimia

The warning signs of exercise bulimia include:

  • Missing work or social engagements so as to focus on exercising
  • Working out even when you are feeling tired or sick or injured
  • Being irritable, depressed or irrational when you don’t find time to work out
  • Prioritizing exercises over relationships
  • Never feeling satisfied with your workout achievements or level of fitness
  • Experiencing guilt and anxiety when you are unable to work out
  • Valuing yourself in terms of your physical fitness, appearance and workout achievements instead of your inner strengths
  • Closely tracking how many calories you lose when working out
  • Seeing your body differently than others do
  • Becoming angry, aggressive, or defensive when people comment that you are working out too much
  • Women can experience amenorrhea (lack of menstrual periods) due to over-exercising

Effects of exercise bulimia

Studies have shown that exercising too much can cause abnormal remodelling of the heart and put patients at risk of developing arrhythmias. Other negative effects include:

Physical effects

  • Dehydration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Increased risk of joint, ligaments and tendons injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Heart problems
  • Reproductive and hormonal disturbances,i.e. Low libido, irregular or lack of menstruation
  • Poor physical and mental health
  • You become prone to respiratory and other infections

Psychological effects

  • Irritability
  • Black and white thinking
  • Low self-esteem
  • Perfectionism
  • Social withdrawal
  • Rigidity
  • Avoidance and withdrawal from relationships
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to enjoy eating or exercising

Relationship between excessive exercise and eating disorders

Gabrielle Anwar’s exercise routines that are aimed at losing weight sparked rumours of her having an eating disorder. Excessive exercise can be a consequence of the following eating disorders:

Bulimia nervosa

Excessive exercise works as compensation for binge eating in patients with bulimia nervosa. People feel like Gabrielle Anwar’s exercise routines and diet is the cause of her lean figure that people feel is unhealthy. Other methods of compensation include self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, diuretics and intermittent fasting.

This is what Jamie was ailing from as she opened up in an interview and said, “I have something called exercise bulimia, which is where you rid of your calories by over-exercising. I ended up starting at a routine which was, you know, 20 minutes in the morning and cutting back a little on my calories. And it snowballed into six or seven hours a day of exercise,”.

Anorexia nervosa

Other people feel Gabrielle Anwar’s exercise and restrictive diets are symptoms of anorexia nervosa. A study done showed that people with anorexia are hyperactive and have an increased aptitude for movement. This is because the patient feels very light and active and uses over-exercising as a way to maintain their lean figures.  Many patients with anorexia describe exercise as being compulsive and they ignore physical fatigue so as to continue training.

Muscle dysmorphia

This illness mostly affects bodybuilders. It is also called reverse anorexia. People with muscle dysmorphia have a belief that they are not muscular enough. They use over-exercising as a way to increase musculature and use steroids and supplements.

Among men with muscle dysmorphia, 71% lift weight excessively, while 64% exercise excessively.

You can administer a Compulsive Exercise Test on yourself or a loved one to determine if you are suffering from exercise bulimia. Alternatively, if one or more of the following statements are true, then you should consider professional help:

  • My exercise interferes with important work or socializing
  • I experience guilt or stress when I do not exercise
  • I exceed three hours of exercise per day
  • I continue to exercise despite feeling fatigued or when I am injured or ill
  • I exercise at inappropriate times and places and I am not able to suppress the behaviour

Treatment for exercise bulimia

The first step in recovering from exercise bulimia, or any other illness, is acceptance. You can then speak to your doctor about your eating and exercise habits and they will be able to direct you to helpful resources that will help in recovery. You can also reach out to your therapist or psychiatrist to help in the treatment of the psychological aspect.

Your therapist will use cognitive behavioural therapy to help with negative body image and how to overcome negative views about yourself. s/he will also guide you on how to keep track of your eating habits, identify triggers and how to develop healthy workout plans.


We have discussed who Gabrielle Anwar is and looked at whether she had an eating disorder or not. We have also focused on her diet and fitness exercise programs, which have helped her maintain confidence and a healthy body. We have also looked at what excessive exercise is (exercise bulimia, its symptoms, causes and its relationship to eating disorders.

Finally, we have looked at the treatment of exercise bulimia. If you have any comments or questions, please let us know in the comment section below.

Frequently asked questions: Did Gabrielle Anwar have an eating disorder? 

What are five signs that someone may have an eating disorder?

some common warning signs to watch out for include:

● Alterations in Weight

● Preoccupation With Body Image

● Disruptions in Eating Patterns

● Preoccupation With Nutritional Content

● Changes in Exercise Patterns

● Mood Fluctuations

What are 3 warning signs of bulimia?

● Episodes of binge eating.

● Self-induced vomiting.

● Smelling like vomit.

What are the three forms of treatment for anorexia?

Treatment for anorexia nervosa includes;

● Cognitive behavioural therapy

● Dialectical behavioural therapy

● Acceptance and commitment to therapy


American Psychiatric Association, (2013). Eating disorders in Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (5th edition). American Psychiatric Association.

Single care team. (February, 15, 2022). Eating disorder statistics 2022. The check up by single care. Retrieved from https://www.singlecare.com/blog/news/eating-disorder-statistics/

Weir. K. (April, 2016). New insight on eating disorders. American Psychological

Association (vol 47 no.4 page 36). Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/04/eating-disorders

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