Some people assume that those with eating disorders are making lifestyle choices about their eating habits, exercise regimens and how they view their bodies. In fact, all types of eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disruptions in an individual’s eating behaviors. Other signs of an eating disorder include obsessions with food, weight and body shape.
Different types of eating disorders include:
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss that leads to an inappropriate body weight and, for many, a distorted body image.1 People experiencing anorexia restrict the number of calories and types of food they eat. In addition, some individuals suffering from anorexia exercise compulsively, purge food by vomiting and/or using laxatives and may also binge eat.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder was formerly called selective eating disorder.2 ARFID is much like anorexia, because both disorders are characterized by limiting the amount and/or types of foods eaten. ARFID differs from anorexia in that ARFID doesn’t involve any anguish regarding body shape or size or fears of being overweight.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is a serious and life-threatening disorder. People suffering from binge eating disorder frequently eat large quantities of food very quickly and to the point of discomfort. People suffering from this type of disorder also feel a loss of control during an eating binge. Feelings of shame, distress and/or guilt following a binge are also typical. Unlike some other types of eating disorders like anorexia, purging or using laxatives isn’t a component of a binge eating disorder. It’s the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder in the United States.
Bulimia nervosa is a serious, possibly fatal eating disorder. People suffering from bulimia experience a cycle of bingeing on food and then “undoing” the effects of binge eating by inducing vomiting, excessive exercising and/or fasting.
Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders
Other specified feeding and eating disorders is a general classification that includes serious, life-threatening and treatable types of eating disorders that don’t exactly fit the criteria of other types of eating disorders. Even though this eating disorder is less clear, it’s still a significant eating disorder. OSFED may mimic the symptoms of other eating disorders, but are at a lower frequency or of limited duration.
OSFED encompasses a wide range of characteristics, so any or all of the following symptoms may be observed:3
- Episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by actions to avoid weight gain, such as inducing vomiting
- Feeling a loss of control during binge-eating incidents
- Self-esteem is excessively tied to body image
- Dieting excessively
- Expressing a desire to burn off calories taken in due to an intense fear of weight gain
- Using compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse, even after eating normal amounts of food
- Eating excessive amounts of food in nighttime hours
Eating Disorders Recovery
Eating disorders are treatable, and recovery is possible. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms of eating disorders, it’s important to seek professional help. Symptoms can quickly spiral out of control, leading to a severe health crisis.