Types of Eating Disorders - An Overview
Eating disorders tend to hide in plain sight. There are several types of eating disorders and none of them discriminate by gender or body type. Some people may ignore their symptoms for years simply because they do not “fit” their own preconceived notion of what an ED looks like.
Diet Culture makes eating disorder symptoms even harder to spot, which is dangerous because delayed treatment means increased health risks, difficulty maintaining relationships or holding a job, and extreme difficulty in managing common co-occurring conditions such as anxiety and depression.
So let’s break it down:
Types of Eating Disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa is defined by food restriction and difficulty maintaining healthy feeding behavior. Anorexia is often characterized by a preoccupation with weight, dieting, food, and excessive exercise.
- Bulimia Nervosa is characterized as the consumption of a large amount of food, also known as bingeing, followed by purging. Purging refers to the attempt of getting rid of the food consumed by self-induced vomiting, laxative use, etc.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
- Binge Eating Disorder is defined as the frequent and recurring consumption of a large amount of food in a short period of time. There is also a sense of loss of control in relation to the amount of food consumed.
- Otherwise Specified Feeding Disorder (OSFED) is characterized by an individual who presents with an atypical presentation of another specified eating disorder. An example of this would be an individual who meets all of the criteria for Anorexia except that their weight remains within or above normal range despite significant weight loss.
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a feeding disorder in which the consumption of certain foods is limited based on texture, smell, taste, or past negative experiences with food. There may also be a fear of vomiting or choking.
- PICA is characterized by the persistent eating of non-food items and substances and does not provide nutritional value. These may include paper, string, soap, chalk, metal, pebbles, charcoal, starch, etc.
- Rumination Disorder is characterized by the repeated regurgitation of food without effort or involuntary. The regurgitated food may be re-chewed, re-swallowed, or spit out.
- Orthorexia is defined by an excessive preoccupation with ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’ foods and cutting out an increasing number of food groups (i.e. all sugar, all carbs, etc.).
- Compulsive Exercise involves exercise that significantly interferes and impairs an individual’s daily life. This may occur at inappropriate times or settings and is continued despite injury or medical complications.
- Diabulimia refers to individuals with insulin-dependent diabetes who intentionally restrict insulin for the purposes of weight loss.
We hope this brings some clarity to the different types of eating disorders. If you are that someone who is being walked past, know that you are not alone. Perhaps you hold a great deal of shame around your eating behaviors or even think that your struggles are not valid because they don’t fit the typical mold. Please do not let that deter you from getting help. Your pain matters and deserves to be heard. There is help available.
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