Signs of an Eating Disorder: 6 Different Types of Disordered Eating

Thursday, March 14th 2019, 4:34 pm
By: News On 6


Originally posted on


Eating disorders are worryingly prevalent in the United States.

Indeed, it’s thought that 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from one at some point in their lives.

Those are pretty scary stats. Especially when you consider the impact these disorders can have on your life. For instance, a young person (age 15-24) with anorexia has 10 times the risk of dying compared to someone of the same age without the disorder.

Knowing the signs of an eating disorder is important. It can be a first step in acknowledging a problem and hopefully seeking support.

With that in mind, keep reading to learn about 6 different types of disordered eating.

Signs of an Eating Disorder: 6 Types of Disordered Eating

The rate of eating disorder (ED) in the US is frighteningly high. Generally, ED is a term that describes a range of conditions. EDs are mental disorders with a shared characteristic of abnormal or problematic eating habits.

Here are 6 different eating disorders and their key symptoms.

1. Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

BN is an ED characterized by a binge (eating large quantities of food in a short period of time) followed by a purge (getting rid of the food through various means including vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise).

It usually develops in adolescence. Individuals usually maintain their weight.

2. Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

AN is a well-known ED where people experience a skewed idea of their weight.

Someone with AN tends to view themselves as overweight, where in reality they may be unhealthily underweight. They can obsess about their weight, and monitor it constantly. Eating is severely restricted to limit calorie intake.

AN (and BN, for that matter) are often associated with the modeling industry (here’s more on eating disorder and the runway). However, anyone can experience these conditions.

3. Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is incredibly common in the US.

The condition is characterized by consuming unusually large quantities of food in short time periods. You may feel unable to control your eating during a binge. Contrary to AN and BN, there’s no associated purging behavior.

People will commonly feel intense shame and distress following a binge.

4. Pica

Pica is a diagnosis that describes the intense desire to eat potentially harmful non-food items.

You may crave the intake of substances such as dirt, chalk, hair, stones, or soap. The exact substance is unimportant- your particular cravings may be entirely different. Pica can affect all people and ages, though it’s most commonly observed in pregnant women, children, and people with mental illness.

5. Avoidant or Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

People with ARFID limit their eating through lacking interest in food, or feeling repulsed by certain smells, tastes, and other sensations. It isn’t just ‘being fussy’. This is a recognized mental disorder with serious implications.

Their calorie intake may be insufficient to sustain their weight.

People with ARFID often develop it during childhood.

6. Rumination Disorder

After eating, people with rumination disorder voluntarily regurgitate their food, before re-chewing it and then swallowing again (or spitting it out).

It can cause weight loss and malnutrition that can be fatal in infants.

Time to Wrap Up

Eating disorders are a widespread issue in the US.

30 million Americans will experience one in their lifetime. Knowing the signs of an eating disorder is often a first step to acknowledging an issue and seeking support.

Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Pica, ARFID, and Rumination Disorder are 6 common forms of ED. Each can have a significant negative impact on life.

Hopefully, the information above has increased your understanding of these conditions. Be sure to see a medical professional if you struggle with any of the symptoms we’ve discussed.

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