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4 Common Types of Eating Disorders

First and foremost, let's understand what an eating disorder really is:

An eating disorder is a mental health condition characterized by abnormal and harmful eating behaviors. It involves a distorted perception of body weight, shape, and food, leading to severe disturbances in eating habits. Eating disorders can have serious physical and emotional consequences, and often require professional treatment involving therapy, medical monitoring, and nutritional support to promote recovery and overall well-being.

1. Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is likely the most well-known eating disorder.

It generally develops during adolescence or young adulthood and tends to affect more women than men.

People with anorexia generally view themselves as overweight, even if they’re dangerously underweight. They tend to constantly monitor their weight, avoid eating certain types of foods, and severely restrict their calorie intake.

Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include:

  • very restricted eating patterns

  • intense fear of gaining weight or persistent behaviors to avoid gaining weight, despite being underweight

  • a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a healthy weight

  • a heavy influence of body weight or perceived body shape on self-esteem

  • a distorted body image, including denial of being seriously underweight

2. Bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is another well-known eating disorder.

Like anorexia, bulimia tends to develop during adolescence and early adulthood and appears to be less common among men than women.

People with bulimia frequently eat unusually large amounts of food in a specific period of time.

Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • recurrent episodes of binge eating with a feeling of lack of control

  • recurrent episodes of inappropriate purging behaviors to prevent weight gain

  • self-esteem overly influenced by body shape and weight

  • a fear of gaining weight, despite having a typical weight

3. Binge eating disorder

Binge eating disorder is the most prevalent form of eating disorder and one of the most common chronic illnesses among adolescents.

It typically begins during adolescence and early adulthood, although it can develop later on.

Common symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • eating large amounts of food rapidly, in secret, and until uncomfortably full, despite not feeling hungry

  • feeling a lack of control during episodes of binge eating

  • feelings of distress, such as shame, disgust, or guilt, when thinking about the binge eating behavior

  • no use of purging behaviors, such as calorie restriction, vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative or diuretic use, to compensate for the binge eating

4. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is a new name for an old disorder.

The term has replaced the term “feeding disorder of infancy and early childhood,” a diagnosis previously reserved for children under age 7.

Individuals with this disorder experience disturbed eating due to either a lack of interest in eating or a distaste for certain smells, tastes, colors, textures, or temperatures.

Common symptoms of ARFID include:

  • avoidance or restriction of food intake that prevents the person from eating enough calories or nutrients

  • eating habits that interfere with typical social functions, such as eating with others

  • weight loss or poor development for age and height

  • nutrient deficiencies or dependence on supplements or tube feeding

It’s important to note that ARFID goes beyond common behaviors such as picky eating in toddlers or lower food intake in older adults.

The above symptoms cannot diagnose whether one has an eating disorder or not, to further understand symptoms you should consult your therapist of psychiatrist.

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