There are many forms of disordered eating, including avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), pica, and rumination disorder. These conditions involve a lack of interest in or disdain for food, and can be very damaging to one’s health.
Body dissatisfaction is another common risk factor for eating disorders. While not all people with body dissatisfaction are diagnosed with an eating disorder, those with negative feelings about their bodies and a desire to control their weight may turn to unhealthy diets or self-criticism to cope with their distress. Those who are diagnosed with an eating disorder typically experience intense feelings of distress and often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as restricting food intake and purging.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder and compulsive exercise are also forms of eating disorder behavior. Those who engage in these behaviors develop obsessive thoughts, rituals and obsessions around dieting, exercising, and weighing themselves. Moreover, they often experience anxiety about their weight or feel that their bodies don’t match the image they’ve created for themselves.
Individuals who are struggling with these behaviors can benefit from psychotherapy to learn healthier coping skills, develop self-love and improve communication skills with others. Treatment also includes nutrition education, meal planning and goal setting.
The most common types of disordered eating include:
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a type of calorie restriction due to a lack of interest in foods or a dislike for their taste, texture, or appearance. It can affect individuals of all ages, but it’s most common in children and teens.
Pica is a condition that involves cravings for nonfood items, such as hair or sand, and can be particularly problematic in those with eating disorders or gastrointestinal problems like celiac disease.
Individuals with rumination disorder regurgitate partially digested or chewed food, usually in an effort to prevent the loss of calories. It can lead to bloating, stomach pain and other symptoms.
Those who have an overeating disorder are likely to feel extremely hungry and may eat more than they normally would or can. They may also eat large quantities of food at once, which is known as binge eating. They may then purge the extra calories by vomiting or using laxatives or excessive amounts of exercise, or they might overeat again later on in the day.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of these conditions, as they can be life-threatening and lead to serious medical complications. Additionally, they can interfere with an individual’s ability to function in their day-to-day lives and relationships.
Eating disorders are severe and life-threatening mental illnesses that affect women, men, and children of all ages. They cause disturbances in thinking, mood, and behavior and can lead to severe physical complications like bone thinning, heart problems, depression, gastrointestinal issues, electrolyte imbalances, low blood pressure and low heart rate.
In addition to affecting their physical well-being, those who suffer from an eating disorder are also at high risk of developing mental illness and social isolation. They may lose their sense of self-worth and begin to blame themselves for their bodies, which can exacerbate their disordered eating patterns and make it even more difficult to seek professional help.