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Understanding the different types of eating disorders

By September 21, 2021April 29th, 2023Understanding Eating Disorders
Jenny Tomei educator and mentor eating disorders

Eating disorders are a serious mental illness that can have a significant effect on your health and well-being. The term refers to a complex potentially life treating condition, characterised by disturbances in eating, emotional and psychological distress and physical symptoms. Eating Disorders can be seen as a way of coping with emotional distress, or as a symptom of other underlying issues.

  • Eating disorders are not primarily about food
  • Eating disorders can affect anyone
  • People can and do recover

There are 3 types of CLINICAL eating disorder. All of them are concerned with control of weight and shape. To help you know which is which, below we outline the tell-tale symptoms of each.

Anorexia Nervosa

Typically this is where: you feel huge and terrified of weight gain; you adopt restrictive eating habits; you might hear a voice telling you to eat less.

Bulimia Nervosa

Typically this is: where you either make yourself throw up, or take laxatives, to get rid of unwanted calories, even if you have not overeaten… and where you binge and purge in secret, yet behave normally in front of others.

Binge Eating Disorder

Typically this is where: you overeat in secret, either all or some of the time; you constantly seem to be on a diet and trying to lose weight all the time; you try to stop yourself from gaining weight; you think about food all the time; and you feel out of control around certain kinds of food or any food.

Just because somebody doesn’t fit in absolutely with one particular category doesn’t mean they don’t have an eating disorder. That’s why there’s a catch-all way to group other conditions, known as ‘FEDNEC’.

Feeding and Eating Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified (FEDNEC)

Other conditions include:

  • Compulsive Eating/ Binge Eating Disorder
  • Types of Anorexia and Bulimia which are not severe
  • Night Eating Syndrome
  • ARFID  (avoidant  restrictive food intake disorder)
  • The person is normally picky with food, anxious about eating, and has a nutritionally very narrow diet.
  • Othorexia
    This is thought to be similar to Anorexia. Generally the person has an obsession with clean or pure foods, is anxious about how the quality of food affects their life and relationships, and might avoid certain nutrients e.g. dairy or wheat.

Curious? Here’s how to learn more

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