Three Common Types of Disordered Eating

Eating disorders are complex, serious mental health conditions that affect the way a person thinks about food, weight and body image. They can lead to severe, life-threatening problems if left untreated.

The three most common types of disordered eating are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. They can be found at all ages and are characterized by extreme restriction, avoidance or malnutrition. Many of these disorders can also have serious effects on other parts of the body such as heart problems, brain changes and loss of bone density. Other risk factors include a history of trauma, depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Frequent dieting and yo-yo dieting can also increase the risk of an eating disorder.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves severe food restriction and anorexic beliefs or behaviors that can cause weight loss, nutritional deficiency and other health problems such as heart disease, osteoporosis and brain damage. Anorexia can be a fatal condition if not treated.

People with bulimia nervosa engage in binging and purging behaviors such as forcing themselves to throw up or over-exercising after they eat. This can cause many dangerous physical symptoms such as stomach acid damage, dental problems, low self-esteem and menstrual irregularities (amenorrhea).

Binge Eating Disorder, also known as BED, is characterized by episodes of consuming large amounts of food over a short period of time without feeling full or compensating in any way. This includes binges that occur outside of meal times and the use of non-food methods to control weight such as laxatives or diet pills.

Individuals with atypical anorexia nervosa have similar eating and body image concerns as those with traditional anorexia but do not experience the same amount of weight loss or related health issues. These include low body weight, a distorted perception of their bodies size and shape and other unhealthy eating and behavioral habits.

People with night eating syndrome have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep due to their frequent eating late at night. They often consume a large amount of food and have disrupted sleep patterns as a result. They may have an unusually shaped or wide waist and may experience a lack of energy, mood swings or gastrointestinal problems.

Symptoms of this eating disorder include a preoccupation with healthy foods and avoiding junk or processed foods. It is also characterized by a fear of fat and a desire to be a certain body weight or size. Those with orthorexia have an obsession with “healthy” or “clean” eating, which causes them to ignore other important aspects of their health and well-being.

A doctor or mental health professional can diagnose an eating disorder by observing a person’s behaviors and attitudes about food, weight and body image. They may perform a physical examination to check the person’s height, weight and vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure. The doctor can also recommend a psychological evaluation to assess the individual’s thoughts and feelings about food and their body image.



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