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What Are The Three Types Of Eating Disorders

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All Different Types Of Eating Disorders Are Still Taboo

The 3 Types of Eating Disorders & How to Spot Them

There are more people suffering than the statistics say. I can bet my life on it. Ive suffered and am still suffering from almost two decades of an eating disorder. During this time, Ive interacted with over 5,000 other sufferers. From what Ive seen, the consequences of eating disorders are just as deadly as heroin addiction.

Its been less and less of a taboo nowadays, but eating disorders are still hidden very well, especially with men.

Now with women, its already something shameful to admit and talk about. We laugh about it, like, Oh she must be anorexic since she ordered a salad.

While in our heads we are looking at her and wishing we were as thin.

Or that we had that willpower.

With men, its not talked about, or even thought about. Men have to hide it far more, and people are far less understanding when they talk about it.

Unfortunately, no matter your gender, theres no getting away from food.

Common Types Of Eating Disorders

Although the term eating is in the name, eating disorders are about more than food. Theyre complex mental health conditions that often require the intervention of medical and psychological experts to alter their course.

These disorders are described in the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition .

In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their life .

This article describes 6 of the most common types of eating disorders and their symptoms.

Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape.

In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated.

Those with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. However, most include the severe restriction of food, food binges, or purging behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising.

Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, theyre most often reported in adolescents and young women. In fact, up to 13% of youth may experience at least one eating disorder by the age of 20 .

Summary Eating disorders are mental health conditions marked by an obsession with food or body shape. They can affect anyone but are most prevalent among young women.

What If I Have An Eating Disorder

If you think you may have an eating disorder:

Tell someone. Tell a parent, teacher, counselor, or an adult you trust. Let them know what you’re going through. Ask them to help.

Get help early. When an eating disorder is caught early, a person has a better chance of recovery. Make an appointment with your doctor or an eating disorders specialist.

Go to all appointments. Treatment takes time and effort. Work hard to learn about yourself and your emotions. Ask questions any time you have them.

Be patient with yourself. There’s so much to learn, and change happens a little at a time. Take care of yourself and be with people who support you.

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Body Mass Index And Diagnosis

In your assessment, your BMI should not be the only factor your GP or hospital doctor takes into account.

Unfortunately, diagnosis and treatment for an eating disorder can be related to your weight. You could have a serious problem with eating, but without meeting the criteria for diagnosis. This can feel very frustrating.

However, you should not need an eating disorder diagnosis to get treatment for an eating problem.

Usually, your recommended treatment will be for the disorder most similar to your eating problem.

See our page on treatment and support for more details.

How Do Eating Disorders Affect Health And Emotions

Biological basis in eating disorders

Eating disorders can cause serious problems throughout the body.

Anorexia can lead to health problems caused by undernutrition and low body weight, such as:

  • low blood pressure
  • feeling tired, weak, dizzy, or faint
  • constipation and bloating

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Diagnosis Of An Eating Disorder

The first step towards getting help for an eating disorder is usually to visit the GP. We have a leaflet that can help you with this appointment. If you’re not registered with a GP, you can learn more about how to do this in:

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence , which gives evidence-based guidelines about how to treat different illnesses, recommends that if the GP thinks someone may have an eating disorder, they should immediately refer them to an eating disorder specialist for further assessment or treatment.

Diagnosis is made by taking a history, which means talking to the person about their feelings and behaviour. It may also involve some physical tests, such as checking their height and weight, and blood tests. Diagnosis is usually essential to be able to access treatment. Each type of eating disorder has a list of criteria that doctors and healthcare professionals use to diagnose an eating disorder. You can read more about what might happen at a doctors appointment here, and what treatment involves here.

Effects Of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can lead to simple reversible complications such as anemia and irregular periods or eventually result in serious effects like heart failure or even result in death. The time period as to when these effects will occur cannot be predetermined. It is dependent on the individuals constitution, severity of the eating disorder and as to when appropriate treatment is initiated.

While the signs and symptoms of the eating disorder will give an indication of the most likely complication that may arise soon, preventing these effects will depend on the level of care, patient compliance, past medical history and ability to recover. It is important to note that even if the patient is undergoing treatment and there are promising signs of recovery, the complications associated with the different types of eating disorders can still occur even after treatment is initiated.

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Determining All Types Of Eating Disorders

Some eating disorders are much more common than others. And, some may share similar symptoms. So, it can be challenging to determine which eating disorder a person may be living with without professional help. But, learning more about all types of eating disorders can help pinpoint which one an individual may be dealing with so they may seek the care they require.

Some of the most common eating disorders diagnosed include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Other Specified Eating Disorder
  • Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

The Following Is A Description Of The Three Major Kinds Anorexia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa And Binge Eating Disorder

3 Common Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Young people with anorexia nervosa suffer from a distorted body image. They see themselves as being overweight, even though its obvious to everyone around them that they are actually dangerously thin. They may refuse to eat entirely, especially in front of others, and exercise compulsively. They end up with significant weight loss and may even starve to death.

Bulimia Nervosa

Unlike anorexics, individuals with bulimia nervosa eat large quantities of food, then purge themselves of that food, often in secrecy. They may stick their fingers down their throat to induce vomiting, use laxatives, diuretics, or enemas, and exercise a lot. After bingeing, they feel ashamed and disgusted and are only relieved of these negative emotions by getting rid of the food. Unfortunately, a vicious cycle happens purging to get rid of excess calories and psychological pain, then bingeing again in an effort to escape that pain.

Binge Eating Disorder

Just like individuals with bulimia, those with binge eating disorder frequently indulge in eating thats way out of control. However, unlike bulimia sufferers, binge eaters dont purge their bodies after eating.

Who Suffers From Eating Disorders?

Anorexia and bulimia in young people primarily affect girls, but boys can also be vulnerable . Binge eating disorder is about equally distributed among boys and girls

How Do Eating Disorders Start?

What are Some Triggers for Eating Disorders?

Treatment for Eating Disorders

Read Also: What Is A Eating Disorder Anorexia

What Are The Different Types Of Eating Disorder

One eating disorder called orthorexia was only described for the first time in the 1990s. As a result, there have been several changes in how eating disorders are grouped together, or classified.

The World Health Organization uses a classification called ICD-10, which splits eating disorders up into Anorexia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa Overeating Associated with Other Psychological Disturbances and Other Eating Disorders.

The DSM classification, from the American Psychiatric Association, was updated to its fifth version in 2013. DSM-5 breaks eating disorders down into:

  • Anorexia nervosa .
  • Bulimia nervosa .
  • Binge eating disorder.
  • Other specified feeding or eating disorder .
  • Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder .
  • Rumination disorder.
  • Unspecified feeding or eating disorder.

Types Of Eating Disorders

There are many different types of eating disorder, this section covers the most common types.

Anorexia nervosa

People diagnosed with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating enough or over-exercising, or a combination of the two.

Some symptoms include:

  • Trying to keep your weight as low as possible
  • Thinking you are overweight even if others say you are dangerously thin
  • Low self-esteem or negative self-image
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Dismissive of the idea of eating more or encouragement from others to do so

Bulimia nervosa

You will have an unhealthy eating cycle if you have bulimia. You will eat a lot of food and then do something to yourself to stop weight gain. You may make yourself vomit, take laxatives or over-exercise. The eating is called binging and what you do after is called purging. You will usually have an average body weight. This may mean other people do not notice you are having these problems.

Some symptoms include:

  • Binging eating large amounts of food in a short space of time with little control
  • Purging avoiding putting on weight by making yourself vomit, using laxatives or extreme amounts of exercise
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Low self-esteem or negative self-image
  • Experiencing mood changes such as anxiety or tension

Binge eating disorder

Some symptoms include:

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More About Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder that includes two characteristics for diagnosis binging and purging . Essentially, individuals living with this disorder will binge eat, or eat in excessive amounts at a rapid rate. Then, purging of the meal, with either self-inflicted vomiting, fasting, or restrictive behaviors in order to not gain weight.

Some of the signs that a person may be living with Bulimia Nervosa can include:

  • Experiencing feelings of shame, guilt, and regret after routine binge eating of large amounts of food
  • Use of purging behaviors to prevent weight gain by means of self-induced vomiting, the use of diuretics or laxatives, immoderate exercise, or fasting altogether
  • Experiencing consistent patterns of binging and purging behaviors
  • Disconnected self-image in terms of body size and weight

Three Main Types Of Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders: Their Types and Causes

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are three of the most common eating disorders.

  • Anorexia essentially is when a child refuses to eat for fear of becoming fat. This fear is often intense and irrational. Even when weight loss occurs, the child will continue to limit their eating, for fear of gaining weight back. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly one out of every 25 girls and women will have anorexia in their lifetime. Most will deny that they have an eating disorder.
  • Bulimia is a condition in which a child will binge, or overeat, then purge the food by vomiting. Laxatives may also be used in order to prevent any weight gain from occurring.
  • Binge eating is when a child binges rapidly on food, but does not purge his or her stomach contents.

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What Is An Eating Disorder

Eating disorders revolve around abnormal eating habits and often include physical changes.

For some, eating disorders involve limiting the amount of food that is consumed for others, it involves uncontrollable eating. Some people with eating disorders become obsessed with diet and exercise. Others will eat large quantities of food and then vomit.

There is no single demographic at risk for eating disorders theyre diseases that can occur in people of any gender, race, religion, or socio-economic background.

Other Specified Feeding Or Eating Disorders

Other specified feeding and eating disorder , is less well known than conditions like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and BED. Despite its lack of public attention, it includes a wide range of symptoms.

OSFED is actually the most common eating disorder diagnosis, representing an estimated 32 to 53% of all people with eating disorders. It was developed to encompass people who did not meet the full diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, BED, or bulimia nervosa but still had a significant eating disorder.

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What Are The Types Of Eating Disorders

Common types of eating disorders include

  • Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating. People with binge-eating disorder keep eating even after they are full. They often eat until they feel very uncomfortable. Afterward, they usually have feelings of guilt, shame, and distress. Eating too much too often can lead to weight gain and obesity. Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.
  • Bulimia nervosa. People with bulimia nervosa also have periods of binge-eating. But afterwards, they purge, by making themselves throw up or using laxatives. They may also over-exercise or fast. People with bulimia nervosa may be slightly underweight, normal weight, or overweight.
  • Anorexia nervosa. People with anorexia nervosa avoid food, severely restrict food, or eat very small quantities of only certain foods. They may see themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously underweight. Anorexia nervosa is the least common of the three eating disorders, but it is often the most serious. It has the highest death rate of any mental disorder.

More About Other Specified Eating Disorder

3 Types of Eating Disorders (Mental Health Guru)

Individuals who may have some characteristics but not all of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Binge Eating Disorder may receive a diagnosis for Other Specified Eating Disorder, or OSED. Specifically, individuals with OSED may experience one or more symptoms of any of these three eating disorders without displaying the entire characteristics required for a diagnosis of these disorders.

Some of the signs that a person with OSED may display can include a variety of symptoms like:

  • all of the same symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa except the individual is within the healthy weight range for his/her health, age, height, etc.
  • the same symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa except the individual may experience these symptoms less frequently
  • all of the same symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder except the individual may experience these symptoms less frequently
  • purging behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • experiencing night eating syndrome, which is eating at night after the final meal of the day without control

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Other Types Of Eating Disorders

In addition to the anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder, there are other types of eating disorders which may not be as common. These include pica, rumination disorder and night eating syndrome.

  • Individuals with pica feel an intense urge to consume certain non-food items, such as clay, dirt or paint.
  • Individuals with rumination disorder regurgitate food that has previously been swallowed.
  • With night eating syndrome, individuals wake up at night and overeat regularly.

Related Topic:Pica treatment

Eating disorders are mental illnesses that are not only emotionally damaging but can also pose a significant threat to physical health. Thankfully with treatment, there is hope to reverse these complications.

If you or someone you love is coping with co-occurring substance use and eating disorders, treatment is available. The Recovery Village provides comprehensive care for co-occurring addiction and mental health conditions, including online counseling and teletherapy. Finding the right treatment program for the person with substance addiction and an eating disorder is essential for recovery, and were here to help whenever you need us. Reach out today for more information.

Possible Signs And Symptoms That Could Indicate Your Child Has An Eating Disorder

There are several symptoms to look for if you fear your child may be suffering from one or more eating disorders. They include distress, constant fear of becoming overweight, low self-esteem, and ongoing anxiety and depression. Also look out for strange eating habits â avoiding meals, eating in secret, monitoring the number of chews or amount of time it takes to eat something, or hiding food that hasnât been eaten.

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Other Eating Disorders And Eating Problems

Other specified feeding and eating disorder

OFSED means you have symptoms of an eating disorder, but you dont have all the typical symptoms of anorexia, bulimia or BED. You may have a mixture of symptoms from different eating disorders. This doesnt mean that your illness is less serious.

Emotional overeating

You turn to food when you have negative feelings if you are an emotional overeater. These can be feelings like anxiety or sadness. Eating food may help you to feel comforted.

Lots of people use food to help manage feelings, this is normal. But it may become a problem if this is the only management technique that you have, or you are beginning to feel out of control. Emotional overeating can cause feelings of guilt and shame.


With pica, you eat non-food objects such as chalk, paint, stones and clothing. There is no nutritional benefit from eating these items and some can be harmful. Pica can lead to further health concerns such as dental and stomach problems.

Rumination disorder

You will chew and spit out food without swallowing it if you have rumination disorder. You may do this repeatedly.

Selective eating disorder

You will only eat certain foods and may refuse to try other foods if you have SED. This is common in young children. But the problem can continue into adulthood.

Orthorexia nervosa

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