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How Do Bulimia Nervosa And Binge Eating Disorder Differ

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Differences between Anorexia, Bulimia, Atypical Anorexia, Purging Disorder, & Binge Eating Disorder

If you are concerned that someone may be struggling with an eating disorder, talk to them. Those with eating disorders may outwardly deny the disorder but understand internally that they need help. Talk to them in private and show compassion and understanding. This is a difficult topic to talk about! Let them know that you are there for them throughout this whole journey.

If you are seriously concerned with someones health, talk to someone else about it. Dont wait until its too late. Recovering from an eating disorder is difficult, but its better than the alternative.

The Differences Between Bulimia And Binge Eating

Binge Eating Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa are two very serious types of eating disorders. There are overlapping criteria for the disorders, and the main difference is the presence of purging, which occurs in Bulimia. Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa will engage in periods of binge-eating followed by purging while people with binge eating disorders do not purge after a period of bingeing. There are also other differences between the two disorders to be aware of.

Binge eating disorder and Bulimia nervosa affect 2-3% of women in the US, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders . In addition, ANAD reports that over half of Bulimia nervosa patients have at least one mood or anxiety disorder which they need to address with the help of a professional. One in ten Bulimia nervosa and Binge eating disorder clients suffer from an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Who Is More Likely To Develop Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder can occur in people of average body weight, but it is more common in people who have obesity, particularly severe obesity. However, it is important to note that most people with obesity do not have binge eating disorder.

Binge eating disorder is more common in younger and middle-aged people. However, older people can be affected, too.

Binge eating disorder is common among people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.3,4 The distress of having diabetes, which requires a constant focus on weight and food control, may be the reason for this link. In some people, binge eating disorder contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, both through excessive weight gain and increased risk of metabolic abnormalities. Binge eating disorder can also make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood glucose, also known as blood sugar.

For some people, painful childhood experiencessuch as family problems and critical comments about your shape, weight, or eating habitsare linked to developing binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder runs in families, and researchers have identified a genetic component as well.

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Physical Symptoms Of Anorexia Nervosa

Eating disorders are mental health disorders, but they have physical consequences because of the way they interact with the food youre eating. Anorexia, in particular, leads to severe physical symptoms because of the significant weight loss it causes. The physical signs of anorexia are similar to those of starvation.

Some physical symptoms caused by anorexia include:

  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Weak bones and muscles

Key Points: Anorexia Vs Bulimia

Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

Because there so much information about eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, it can be easy to confuse the two. Here are some key points to remember about anorexia vs. bulimia:

  • Anorexia and bulimia are both eating disorders that disrupt a persons diet and body image
  • Anorexia typically involves restricting food intake while bulimia involves eating large amounts of food during binges and compensating with behaviors like vomiting to reduce weight gain
  • Anorexia and bulimia adversely impact a persons mental and physical health, which may contribute to an early death
  • Although males can have the disorders, bulimia and anorexia mostly affect females during adolescence and early adulthood
  • Anorexia is more dangerous in terms of mortality rate, but bulimia is more common
  • Treatment that combines therapy and medication works to reduce and shorten symptoms of the two disorders

Eating disorders are too serious to ignore. The long-term risks of eating disorders are too high, so seeking treatment is encouraged for anyone affected by anorexia or bulimia.

for information about treatment options for substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Our admissions representatives can help you start the treatment process to achieve the healthy future you deserve.

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How Is Bulimia Nervosa Treated

Your healthcare provider may treat bulimia nervosa using a variety of techniques. They may refer you to a team of specialists including dietitians and mental health professionals. Treatments may include:

  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of individual counseling. It focuses on changing your thinking and behavior . Treatment includes techniques for developing healthy attitudes toward food and weight. It also includes approaches for changing the way you respond to difficult situations.
  • Nutritional counseling: Nutrition counseling involves learning healthier ways to eat. You’ll work with a registered dietitian or counselor to get back on track.
  • Medication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a type of antidepressant. They can reduce the frequency of binge eating and vomiting. But the long-term effectiveness of these drugs isnt clear. Theyre also effective at treating anxiety and depression. These conditions are common among people with bulimia nervosa.
  • Support groups: Support groups can be helpful when used with other forms of treatment. In support groups, people and their families meet and share their stories.

Eating Disorders And Depression

Many people with eating disorders also appear to have depression. It is believed that there may be a link between these 2 disorders. For example:

  • Research has shown that some people with binge eating disorder may respond well to antidepressant medicine that affects serotonin function in the body.

  • Biochemical similarities have been discovered between people with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder , and people with OCD often have abnormal eating behaviors.

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Signs And Symptoms Of An Eating Disorder

The level of obsession around eating disorder thoughts and behaviors can distinguish disordered eating from an eating disorder. It is normal to think about or even obsess over food when you are hungry, especially if you have not eaten for a while. It is also normal to think about meal planning, grocery shopping, and cravings for dinner.

This level of obsession with food can impair concentration, the ability to stay present, and can hinder daily functioning. This level of obsession with food, calories, and weight changes and the behaviors that reinforce these obsessions is what differentiates a clinical eating disorder from a disordered eating pattern.

While its difficult to judge how much time and energy another individual spends thinking about food or dieting behaviors, the individual may discuss their thoughts with a friend, or it may be evident through their actions. The following are signs and symptoms associated with eating disorders:

In addition to the obsession, extreme behaviors are prevalent in individuals who have an eating disorder.

From binging and self-induced vomiting to laxative abuse, food restriction, and excessive exercise, individuals will go to extremes on a daily or weekly basis to control their caloric consumption.

This desire for control takes predominance over their lives, and as a result, they may avoid family dinners, outings with friends, or stay home from school or work due to a fear of eating around other people.

Anorexia And Bulimia May Seem Similar But They Are Unique Eating Disorders Find Out How To Help Someone You Care About Who You Suspect Has An Eating Disorder

What is the difference Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are psychological conditions that distort a persons relationship with food and their body. This distortion can influence every aspect of a persons life and impacts their mental health, physical health and social health.

The are several types of eating disorders, but anorexia and bulimia are two of the most common disorders. Despite their differences, anorexia and bulimia share many similarities. These similarities can make it challenging for a person to quickly and accurately identify the disorder.

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Bulimia Vs Anorexia: Common Symptoms

Although the way the two eating disorders manifest are a bit different, many of the symptoms and signs are the same. Symptoms for both disorders may show behaviorally, physically, or both. Behavioral symptoms include:

  • Being preoccupied with food, body size, and/or dieting.
  • Being unusually focused on body size or weight.
  • Skipping meals or eating very small meals.
  • Restricting foods to certain food types or groups.
  • Ritualizing food, such as only eating food in a specific order or not letting food touch.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Withdrawing from activities previously enjoyed.
  • Frequent changes in mood.
  • Missing periods.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

Those with bulimia nervosa may show signs of binge eating, such as hiding food or leaving empty wrappers or containers.

Anorexia And Suicide Warning Signs

Those who suffer from anorexia may have other mental-health problems such as anxiety, substance abuse, or depression. Some may think about suicide. If you or someone who know is having suicidal thoughts, call 911 or the national suicide hotline: 800-273-TALK . Risky behaviors, talking about death or suicide, and withdrawing from loved ones are all warning signs.

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Recovering From Anorexia Or Bulimia

The good news is that people can recover from anorexia and bulimia. It takes time, and often requires professional treatment. Many treatment options are available. Most involve a combination of medical care, counseling, education, and working with a nutritionist. Treatment may also involve supportive family members in counseling and education.

Although anorexia and bulimia are different, they are essentially branches of the same tree. Both conditions are serious, but recovery is possible.

Melinda Sineriz is a freelance writer and fat acceptance advocate. Read more of her thoughts on or visit herwebsite to learn more.

Faq Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or are you stuck in a vicious cycle ...

Author: Dr Joanne Van der Velden PhD, BSc First answered: 14 Oct 2014Last reviewed: 14 May 2019Rating: 4.2 out of 5Votes: 863 Category: Anorexia nervosa

All Health& ‘s health information is accredited by international standards and approved by our world-class Health& Medical Advisory Board.

Always ask your doctor or healthcare provider any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In case of emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 , or dial 112 , or dial 000 immediately.

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What Is The Difference Between Bulimia And Binge Eating Disorder

An important distinction between bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder is that those suffering from binge eating disorder do not regularly engage in unhealthy, potentially dangerous compensatory measures in an effort to cancel out the effects of an eating binge. On the other hand, those suffering from bulimia nervosa do.

How Is Bulimia Nervosa Diagnosed

To diagnose bulimia nervosa, your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination. Theyll ask you about your medical history and symptoms. Its OK to be nervous when talking with your healthcare provider. But they want to help you get better. So its important to be honest with your healthcare provider about your eating habits.

Your healthcare provider will diagnose bulimia nervosa if you meet the following criteria:

  • Do you have repeated episodes of binge eating?
  • Do you feel a lack of control over your eating during an episode?
  • Do you engage in inappropriate purging behaviors?
  • Have you experienced binge eating at least once a week for three months?
  • Does your body weight or shape have a strong influence on your self-image?

There arent any laboratory tests to specifically diagnose bulimia. Your healthcare provider may order tests to see how bulimia has affected your health. These tests include:

  • Blood test.

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Avoidant/restrictive Food Intake Disorder

A serious eating disorder characterized by eating and feeding disturbances resulting in significant weight loss and other medical complications.


  • Eating or feeding disturbance, such as an apparent lack of interest in eating or food, avoiding food based on its sensory characteristics, or concern about aversive consequences of eating, not better explained by lack of available food or an associated culturally sanctioned practice

  • Persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and energy needs

  • Significant weight loss, significant nutritional deficiency, dependence on enteral feeding or oral supplements, and/or marked interference with psychosocial functioning

  • Lack of disturbed perception and experience of ones own body weight or shape

  • Behavior described as restrictive, selective, choosy, or perseverant eating

  • Presence of a conditioned negative response associated with food intake such as choking or repeated vomiting

Medical Complications and Associated Features

  • Weight loss or faltering growth

  • Generalized emotional difficulties, sometimes referred to as food avoidance emotional disorder

  • Mirroring of medical complications and associated features of anorexia nervosa

Frequently Asked Questions About Eating Disorders

Speak Your Mind – Bulimia Nervosa

There are several eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder, and other unspecified eating disorders, such as purging disorder. They differ based on the types of problems with eating and the factors thought to motivate those behaviors. Eating too little is often present in all of these illnesses but dominates anorexia nervosa and avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder in binge-eating disorder and bulimia, there may be problems with eating too much and too quickly but then too little most of the time. Problems with eating uncontrollably and compulsively called a binge, are a part of both bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Problems with purging behaviors, such as vomiting or laxatives, can be part of all of the illnesses but is required for bulimia nervosa and purging disorder. Motivations surrounding the initiation of eating disorder behaviors vary a lot and may even change in the course of the disorders. For example, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa tend to have a stronger relationship between ones own physical appearance and self-worth but fear of eating may motivate food restriction in avoidant-restrictive food intake disorder.

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The Health Risks Of Binge Eating Disorder And Bulimia Nervosa

Though the health risks of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder differ slightly, both disorders are characterized by major medical complications. These complications may leave you with lifelong consequences.

The biggest risk for someone who is binge eating is obesity. One of the more serious health conditions associated with obesity is heart disease. The connection exists because an individuals weight, blood sugar levels, levels of high cholesterol and triglycerides can all be related to risk for cardiovascular disease.

People with bulimia nervosa often experience medical issues such as a compromised immune system. Some of the health problems that may arise from this eating disorder include:

  • Heartburn and acid reflux
  • Gum disease, gingivitis or decay of teeth
  • Brittle and breaking nails
  • Abnormal hair growth on the body
  • Slow healing of open wounds

Mental health issues have long been associated with bulimia and binge eating disorder. Both involve major depression, panic disorder, self-injury behaviors, substance abuse, and lack of impulse control.

Where To Find Help

There are many ways you can find help if you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. And if you are in a crisis you can text NEDA to 741-741 to be put in touch with a trained volunteer.

You could reach out to an eating disorder hotline, or contact an eating disorder treatment center near you. In terms of eating disorder helplines, the National Eating Disorders Association offers a few different ways to get in touch with one:

  • Via texting: a representative is available Mondays through Thursdays, from 3:00 PM until 6:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • Via phone call: you can talk to someone on the phone Mondays through Thursdays between 11:00 AM and 9:00 PM Eastern Time, or on Fridays between 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • Via instant messaging: you can chat with someone online between 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM Eastern Time on Mondays through Thursdays, and on Fridays from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM.

Furthermore, we are here to help you at Eating Disorder Recovery Specialists. You can reach us via phone , , or by filling out our contact form.

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Anorexia And Food Obsession

Many people with anorexia are obsessed with food — thinking about it constantly even though they eat little. Other behaviors may include weighing food, calorie counting, careful portioning of food, or consuming very small amounts of restricted foods. Others may move food around on the plate without eating any of it.

Difference Between Disordered Eating And Eating Disorders

BINGE EATING DISORDER JOURNAL: Anorexia Nervosa &  Bulimia Nervosa ...

Aaron Johnson is a fact checker and expert on qualitative research design and methodology.

Feeling guilty for eating when you are hungry is like feeling guilty for breathing when your lungs need oxygen. We have been taught to be ashamed of our basic human needs. Refuse to feel shame. You are allowed to eat.

In todays society, we are inundated by food fads, trendy diets, technology apps that record our every move and calorie burned, and the pressure from society to lose weight to be viewed as beautiful.

So, what happens when we become obsessed with this culture and where do we draw the line to differentiate disordered eating and eating disorders? To understand the abnormal, we must first understand what the normal standard is.

There is a lot of controversy regarding what the standard daily calorie consumption is for adults. Still, the Food and Drug Administration has based the daily diet on a 2,000 daily caloric intake, which should include adequate servings of fruits and vegetables and proteins and minimal servings of carbohydrates and fats.

This article will include the differences between eating disorders and disorder eating, the signs and symptoms of each, underlying triggers and causes, and treatment approaches.

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