An eating disorder is a serious and potentially life-threatening mental illness associated with abnormal eating habits. If you suspect a loved one or yourself has disordered eating habits, getting help is essential.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 30 million individuals in the United States alone suffer from an eating disorder. They are also the second deadliest mental illness, where one person dies as a direct result every 52 minutes.
But how many types of eating disorders are there? This article will delve into the symptoms and treatments of different types of eating disorders. We will also see how to recognize warning signs and learn how to practice mindful eating instead.
Common Types Of Eating Disorders
Here are six common types of eating disorders;
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
- Rumination Disorder
What Is An Eating Disorder?
An eating disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s relationship with food and their body. It can manifest in various ways, but it typically involves unhealthy or harmful behaviors around eating and exercise.
It’s not just about wanting to lose weight or being picky about what you eat. Eating disorders are real illnesses that can seriously affect your physical and emotional health.
They can also be tough to deal with for the person experiencing them and their loved ones. That’s why it is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms and seek help if you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder.
6 Common Types Of Eating Disorders & Their Symptoms
If you’re wondering how many types of eating disorders there are, there are many different types of eating disorders. Here, we will answer the question, “What are the different types of eating disorders?” We will discuss six common types. These include
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
- Rumination Disorder
Coming first on our list is the most common of all types of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body weight and shape.
People with anorexia may see themselves as overweight even if they are underweight. They might even take extreme measures to lose or prevent weight gain. While anorexia can affect anyone, it is more common in women.
Anorexia causes various symptoms, such as:
- Restricted eating patterns.
- Intense fear of weight gain.
- Obsession with body image and thinness.
- Denial about being underweight.
Eventually, anorexia can lead to physical symptoms, such as:
- Dry skin.
- Hair loss.
Bulimia nervosa is another eating disorder involving a cycle of binge eating and purging behaviors. People with bulimia often feel a loss of control over food. They start by eating large amounts of food quickly (binge eating) quickly and then feel guilty or ashamed afterward.
Because of this, they’ll often try to get rid of this excess food through purging.
Some symptoms of bulimia nervosa include
- Vomiting after every meal.
- Using laxatives or diuretics.
- Obsession with exercise.
- Fear of gaining weight.
Some side effects of bulimia nervosa include
- Swollen glands.
- Dental problems.
- Electrolyte imbalances.
- Gastrointestinal problems.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder, or BED, is another common type of eating disorder. It is most common among adolescents. BED involves recurrent episodes of binge eating without compensatory behaviors such as purging or excessive exercise.
During a binge episode, a person may eat large amounts of food in a short period, often feeling out of control or unable to stop eating.
Some common symptoms of BED include:
- Eating large quantities of food even when not physically hungry.
- Eating rapidly or until uncomfortably full.
- Eating alone due to embarrassment or shame.
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, or distressed after binge eating.
- Often dieting or trying to lose weight.
BED often increases the risk for multiple health complications like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Pica is an eating disorder characterized by the persistent consumption of non-food items with no nutritional value, such as dirt, paper, chalk, and even metal. The prevalence of the disorder is unclear, but it is common in individuals with accompanying mental health conditions.
The exact cause of pica is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to a combination of psychological and nutritional factors.
Some people with pica may have a deficiency in certain nutrients, such as iron, that can cause cravings for non-food items. Others may have experienced trauma or stress, leading to the development of the disorder as a coping mechanism.
Symptoms of pica can vary depending on the type of item being consumed. Some common symptoms include:
- Cravings for non-food items.
- Eating non-food items such as dirt, clay, or paper.
- Stomach pain or discomfort.
- Dental problems, such as chipped or damaged teeth.
- Intestinal blockages or infections.
Pica can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. The consumption of non-food items can lead to malnutrition, digestive problems, and even poisoning. Additionally, ingesting non-food items can cause physical damage to the body, such as intestinal blockages or infections.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Another common disorder is Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). ARFID can affect people of any age, but it is more common in children and adolescents. It is an eating disorder involving a persistent lack of interest in food.
Unlike other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, ARFID is not driven by body image concerns. The symptoms of ARFID can vary from person to person. Still, some common signs include:
- Avoidance or restriction of certain foods or food groups based on their taste, texture, smell, or appearance.
- Anxiety or fear around eating or trying new foods.
- Significant weight loss or failure to gain weight in children.
- Nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia or low vitamin levels.
Lastly, rumination disorder is a newly diagnosed type of eating disorder characterized by the repeated regurgitation of food that has already been swallowed.
People with rumination disorder regurgitate their food within a few minutes of eating. They re-chew it and then either swallow it again or spit it out. This behavior is not due to a medical condition or another eating disorder.
The symptoms of rumination disorder can include:
- Repeated regurgitation of food after meals.
- Re-chewing, re-swallowing, or spitting out food previously consumed.
- Weight loss or malnutrition.
- Bad breath or other dental problems.
Other Types Of Eating Disorders
In addition to all of the eating disorders we have listed, there are several other types of eating disorders that are not as common but can still affect individuals:
- Diabulimia: Diabulimia is an eating disorder specific to individuals with type 1 diabetes. It involves intentionally reducing insulin doses to lose weight or prevent weight gain. This can lead to high blood sugar levels and diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be life-threatening.
- Muscle Dysmorphia: Muscle dysmorphia is an eating disorder often seen in males. It involves an excessive preoccupation with muscularity and body size. Individuals with muscle dysmorphia may engage in extreme exercise and dietary restrictions to build muscle mass and achieve a particular physique.
- Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED): OSFED is a catch-all diagnosis for individuals with disordered eating patterns who do not meet the criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder.
How To Overcome Eating Disorders
Overcoming all the eating disorders we listed often requires a multifaceted approach. Here are some steps to help in the recovery process:
Seek Professional Help
Consult a doctor, therapist, or counselor specializing in eating disorders. They can properly diagnose the condition and develop an individualized treatment plan.
Consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist to help develop a healthy diet with all the necessary nutrients. This can be essential for learning how to have a healthy relationship with food and establishing regular eating habits.
In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions contributing to the eating disorder.
Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Learning to practice stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or journaling, can help cope with triggers that may lead to disordered eating behaviors.
Develop A Positive Self-Image
Improve your self-esteem and body image by focusing on your strengths and qualities rather than just your physical appearance. Engage in activities that boost your self-confidence and promote a healthy lifestyle.
If you have wondered, “What types of eating disorders are there?” Here, we have outlined six common types of eating disorders and their symptoms.
Remember that recovery from an eating disorder is an ongoing process. It’s essential to remain patient and persistent. Contact professionals and loved ones for support, and continue to work on developing a healthier relationship with food and your body.
+ 19 sources
Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial processhere
- Anad.org. (2016).Eating Disorder Statistics | General & Diversity Stats | ANAD. [online] Available at: https://anad.org/eating-disorders-statistics/
- Marie-Josée St-Pierre, Therriault, P.-Y., U. Faghihi and Monthuy-Blanc, J. (2023). Eating disorders: When food ‘Eats’ time.Appetite, [online] 185, pp.106509–106509. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2023.106509.
- Nami.org. (2023).Eating Disorders | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. [online] Available at: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Eating-Disorders
- Adaa.org. (2013). Types of Eating Disorders | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. [online] Available at: https://adaa.org/eating-disorders/types-of-eating-disorders
- Anorexia Nervosa (2017). Anorexia Nervosa. [online] National Eating Disorders Association. Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/anorexia
- Nagl, M., Jacobi, C., Paul, M., Katja Beesdo-Baum, Höfler, M., Lieb, R. and Hans-Ulrich Wittchen (2016). Prevalence, incidence, and natural course of anorexia and bulimia nervosa among adolescents and young adults.European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, [online] 25(8), pp.903–918. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-015-0808-z.
- Jain A;Yilanli M (2022). Bulimia Nervosa. [online] Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32965849/
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (2023).Eating Disorders. [online] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders
- Hilbert, A. (2019). Binge-Eating Disorder. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, [online] 42(1), pp.33–43. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2018.10.011.
- Marzilli, E., Cerniglia, L. and Cimino, S. (2018). A narrative review of binge eating disorder in adolescence: prevalence, impact, and psychological treatment strategies. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, [online] Volume 9, pp.17–30. doi:https://doi.org/10.2147/ahmt.s148050.
- Matson, J.L., Hattier, M.A., Belva, B.C. and Matson, M.L. (2013). Pica in persons with developmental disabilities: Approaches to treatment.Research in Developmental Disabilities, [online] 34(9), pp.2564–2571. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2013.05.018.
- Pica (2017).Pica. [online] National Eating Disorders Association. Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/pica
- StatPearls (2022).Pica. [online] StatPearls. Available at: https://www.statpearls.com/articlelibrary/viewarticle/35876/
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID (2017). Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). [online] National Eating Disorders Association. Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/arfid
- Rumination Disorder (2017).Rumination Disorder. [online] National Eating Disorders Association. Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/rumination-disorder
- Hopkinsmedicine.org. (2019).Rumination Syndrome. [online] Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/rumination-syndrome
- Chelvanayagam, S. and Janet Wilson James (2018). What is diabulimia and what are the implications for practice?British journal of nursing, [online] 27(17), pp.980–986. doi:https://doi.org/10.12968/bjon.2018.27.17.980.
- Psychology Research and Behavior Management. (2016). Muscle dysmorphia: current insights. [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2147/PRBM.S97404
- or, F. (2017). Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. [online] National Eating Disorders Association. Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/osfed
Understanding that an eating disorder is a person's coping mechanism helps those around the person to realise how frightening and difficult it is for the person to let it go as they recover.Which eating disorder is the most common group of answer choices? ›
Binge-eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. Symptoms include: Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as a 2-hour period.Which eating disorder is the most severe? ›
Anorexia has the highest mortality of any psychiatric diagnosis other than opioid use disorder and can be a very serious condition. Body mass index or BMI, a measure of weight for height, is typically under 18.5 in an adult individual with anorexia nervosa.What are the 6 types of eating? ›
- Emotional Eater. This person tends to eat when they're happy, others when they're sad or stressed. ...
- Unconscious Eater. ...
- Habitual Eater. ...
- Critical Eaters. ...
- Sensual Eater. ...
- Energy Eater.
Symptoms of Disordered Eating
Rigid rituals and routines surrounding food and exercise. Feelings of guilt and shame associated with eating. Preoccupation with food, weight and body image that negatively impacts quality of life. A feeling of loss of control around food, including compulsive eating habits.
Disordered eating may include restrictive eating, compulsive eating, or irregular or inflexible eating patterns. Dieting is one of the most common forms of disordered eating. Other behaviours that may be present in a person engaging in disordered eating include: • Fasting. • Binge eating.What are the behaviors of Ed? ›
- Learning difficulties.
- Difficulties to focus or concentrate.
- Inability to build or maintain interpersonal relationships.
- Inappropriate types of behavior.
- Pervasive mood of unhappiness.
- Physical Symptoms of fears associated with personal or school problems.
The identified dysfunctional coping strategies were 'taking tranquilizers', 'taking stimulants', 'drinking alcohol', 'withdrawal and ruminating', and 'playing games on the PC or mobile phone'.Which eating disorder has the highest mortality rate? ›
Background. Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a common eating disorder with the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric diseases. However, few studies have examined inpatient characteristics and treatment for AN.Which disorder is most commonly comorbid with eating disorders? ›
The most common psychiatric disorders which co-occur with eating disorders include mood disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder), anxiety disorders (e.g., obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma, substance use disorders, personality disorders (e.g. ...
Family history. Eating disorders are more likely to occur in people who have parents or siblings who've had an eating disorder. Other mental health issues. Trauma, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health issues can increase the likelihood of an eating disorder.What is the #1 eating disorder in the US today? ›
In the United States, binge eating disorder is the most prevalent, with 3% of American adults having a binge eating disorder at some point in life. US women will get binge eating disorders at some point. This makes the disorder more than three times as prevalent as bulimia and anorexia.What is the biggest cause of an eating disorder? ›
Most specialists believe that eating disorders develop because of a combination of psychological, environmental and genetic factors. Psychological factors could be: Being vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Finding stress hard to manage.What is the most common eating disorder in terms of a lifetime risk? ›
BED is considered to be the most frequent eating disorder, with a lifetime prevalence ranging from 1% to 3% . Several studies have showed a genetic influence in the development of BED; this disorder, in fact, has been demonstrated to present a high estimated heritability [39–40].What is fog eating? ›
Fog eating occurs when a person eats despite not being hungry. They may or may not realize they are snacking on autopilot and may not even remember what they ate. This is a classic sign of mindless eating; too much of this habit can affect your physical health and your relationship with food.What are 3 eating habits? ›
Build Healthy Eating Habits
Eat whole-grain, high-fiber breads and cereals (3 to 6 servings a day). Reduce or eliminate refined or processed carbohydrates; most of the grains in your diet should be whole grains. Drink fat-free or low-fat milk and eat low-fat dairy products.
Personality traits commonly associated with eating disorder (ED) are high perfectionism, impulsivity, harm avoidance, reward dependence, sensation seeking, neuroticism, and obsessive-compulsiveness in combination with low self-directedness, assertiveness, and cooperativeness [8-11].What are 3 risks associated with disordered eating? ›
- A greater risk of obesity and eating disorders.
- Bone loss.
- Gastrointestinal disturbances.
- Electrolyte and fluid imbalances.
- Low heart rate and blood pressure.
- Increased anxiety.
- Depression and social isolation.
The SCOFF Questionnaire is a five-question screening tool designed to clarify suspicion that an eating disorder might exist rather than to make a diagnosis. The questions can be delivered either verbally or in written form.What are three signs symptoms of disordered eating? ›
- Obsessive thoughts about food, eating, or weight. ...
- Struggling to eat in front of others. ...
- Developing rigid rituals or rules around eating. ...
- Body dissatisfaction that interferes with daily activities. ...
- Eliminating food groups or experimenting with diets.
The anorexia definition highlighting the subtype anorexia athletica (sports anorexia) also referred to, as hypergymnasia is an eating disorder characterized by an obsession with exercise to lose weight or prevent oneself from gaining weight.What are the symptoms of Bigorexia? ›
- Overexerting themselves at the gym.
- Working out compulsively.
- Use of steroids.
- Excessively looking at their body in the mirror.
- Abuse of supplements and constantly drinking protein shakes.
- Irritability and angry outbursts.
- Depression and mania.
- Panicking if a gym session is missed.
Definition of Emotional Disturbance
“…a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance: An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
Using the term “educational autism” appears to refer to the rare child who meets the educational classification of autism but does not meet the diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder (or has not been evaluated by a person qualified to make a diagnosis).How do you deal with ED students? ›
Remain calm, state misconduct, and avoid debating or arguing with student. Ask student for reward ideas. Change rewards if they are not effective in changing behavior. Develop a schedule for using positive reinforcement; work to thin that schedule of reinforcement over time.What are 3 unhealthy coping strategies? ›
- Avoiding issues. ...
- Sleeping too much. ...
- Excessive drug or alcohol use. ...
- Impulsive spending. ...
- Over or under eating.
Examples of healthy coping skills include: Establishing and maintaining boundaries. Practicing relaxation strategies such as deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. Getting regular physical activity.What are 5 unhealthy coping strategies? ›
- Isolation. ...
- Relying on others too much. ...
- Jumping to conclusions/catastrophizing. ...
- Doomscrolling. ...
- Avoiding problems. ...
- Impulse spending. ...
- Substance use. ...
- Excessive worry.
28.8 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. Eating disorders have the HIGHEST risk of death of any mental illness. Eating disorders affect all genders, all races and every ethnic group.Which eating disorder is the least common? ›
Anorexia nervosa is the least common of the three eating disorders, but it is often the most serious.
Bulimia Nervosa is the eating disorder that co-occurs with Major Depressive Disorder the most, with 70.7% of individuals struggling with bulimia being diagnosed with depression at the same time .What are two personality risk factors associated with eating disorders? ›
In a study of female twins in the US, increased binge eating frequency was also found to be associated with genetic factors related to the personality traits neuroticism and conscientiousness .What is a crucial first step in recovery from an eating disorder? ›
The first step to recovery from an eating disorder is to admit the presence of a problem and commit to making necessary changes. This involves recognizing the destructive thoughts and behaviors associated with the disorder and acknowledging that recovery is a long-term process.Which of the following could be a trigger for an eating disorder? ›
They may be triggered by stressful life events, including a loss or trauma; relationship difficulties; physical illness; or a life change such as entering one's teens, starting college, marriage or pregnancy.Who is most likely to develop an eating disorder? ›
Eating disorders can occur in individuals of any age from children to older adults. However, studies show a peak in the occurrence of eating disorders during adolescence and early adulthood. Therefore, teenage girls and young women have the highest risk factor for developing eating disorders based on age.What type of personality do people with anorexia typically have? ›
People who suffer from anorexia nervosa tend to have high levels of harm avoidance, a personality trait characterized by worrying, pessimism, and shyness, and low levels of novelty seeking, which includes impulsivity and preferring new or novel things (Fassino et al., 2002).Are eating disorders genetic or learned? ›
Eating disorders do run in families.
Specifically, individuals who have a family member with anorexia nervosa are up to 11 times more likely to develop an eating disorder themselves. Additionally, 40-60% of the risk of developing an eating disorder is due to genetic factors.
In fact, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), someone dies due to an eating disorder every 52 minutes. And studies show that anorexia is the deadliest eating disorder of them all.Are eating disorders a mental health issue? ›
Eating disorders are a mental health issue with serious physical health complications. Often treatment focuses exclusively on behaviors related to health risks, such as weight restoration, purging and over-exercise, neglecting underlying emotional issues and body dissatisfaction.Which eating disorder is most likely to be associated with obesity? ›
Binge eating disorder is one of the most frequent comorbid mental disorders associated with overweight and obesity. Binge eating disorder patients often suffer from other mental disorders and longitudinal studies indicate a continuous weight gain during the long-term course.
|Anorexia Nervosa (%)||Binge-Eating Disorder (%)|
- Anorexia Nervosa.
- Binge Eating Disorder.
- Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders (OSFED)
- Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
- Rumination Disorder.
- Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED)
Some of the most common types of disordered eating are dieting and restrictive eating. Others include self-induced vomiting, binge eating, and laxative abuse. (see Dangerous Eating Behaviours for a more complete list). There are several types of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.What is an example of disordered eating habits? ›
Disordered eating habits may include: avoiding entire food groups, certain macronutrients, or foods with specific textures or colors without a medical reason. binge-eating. engaging in compensatory behaviors, such as exercising to “make up for” food you've consumed.What is Diabulimia? ›
What is diabulimia? Type 1 diabetes with disordered eating (T1DE) or diabulimia is an eating disorder that only affects people with type 1 diabetes. It's when someone reduces or stops taking their insulin to lose weight.What's the difference between EDS and disordered eating? ›
Disordered eating and eating disorders share some commonalities, but it is important to recognize that they are not the same. Where an eating disorder is a clinical diagnosis, disordered eating refers to abnormal eating patterns that do not meet the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis.What are two major eating disorders? ›
The most common eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder affect up to 30 million people in the United States.What is dysfunctional eating? ›
Dysfunctional – eating or not eating sometimes for reasons other than nourishment such as to shape your body, seek comfort and pleasure, or relieve anxiety and stress. Disordered- eating entirely for purposes other than nourishment or energy.What is abnormal eating Behaviour? ›
An eating disorder is a mental health condition where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations. Unhealthy eating behaviours may include eating too much or too little or worrying about your weight or body shape.Which eating disorder is characterized by self starvation? ›
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain. It involves an ongoing pattern of self-starvation and a preoccupation with food and losing weight. Signs and symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa are: Weight below 85% of expected weight.
Common symptoms include severe restriction of food, food binges, and purging behaviors like vomiting or overexercising. Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, they're increasingly common in men and gender nonconforming people.What are 3 common signs of anorexia? ›
Preoccupation with food, which sometimes includes cooking elaborate meals for others but not eating them. Frequently skipping meals or refusing to eat. Denial of hunger or making excuses for not eating. Eating only a few certain "safe" foods, usually those low in fat and calories.