Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are common and well-known, and others are rarely talked about or diagnosed. If you’re wondering what types of eating disorders exist, look no further. Here are some of the most common types of eating disorders in alphabetical order.
Anorexia is an obsessive fear of gaining weight characterized by excessive dieting and an intense preoccupation with food. People with anorexia have a distorted body image and will often see themselves as fat when they are actually very thin. Anorexics will commonly control their weight through starvation, but other forms of weight control include purging, excessive exercise, laxatives and diet pills. Anorexia can lead to irregular or absent menstrual periods, dry skin, hair loss, and growth of fine body hair in addition to more serious health consequences such as heart problems, organ damage and bone loss.
Anorexia Athletica (also known as Compulsive Exercise)
Compulsive exercising is taking exercise to the extreme, beyond healthy requirements, in order to maintain or lose weight. People who suffer from anorexia athletica are fanatic about their weight and diet and will experience extreme guilt and anxiety if they miss a workout. Sufferers will isolate themselves by choosing to exercise over spending time with friends and family, define their self-worth by their athletic performance, and can cause damage to their body through overexertion.
A person with bulimia will go through episodes of binging, or eating a lot of food in a short period of time, followed by purging, or ridding their bodies of the calories they’ve just consumed. Purging commonly occurs by vomiting, but can also include the use of laxatives. Bulimics may also exercise compulsively to control their weight. Bulimics will suffer the same complications as anorexics in addition to erosion of tooth enamel, tears in the esophagus, stomach ulcers, dehydration, and a greater risk of suicide.
Binge Eating (also known as Compulsive Over Eating)
Binge eating occurs when someone uncontrollably eats past the point of feeling full, followed by intense feelings of shame and self-loathing. It can occur impulsively during a single episode or occur as continuous eating throughout the day, and the sufferer can consume anywhere from 5,000 to 60,000 calories a day. Compulsive eaters will not purge but may repeatedly attempt to diet in order to maintain their weight. These diets inevitably fail because their core addiction to food is never treated. Consequences of binge eating include obesity and depression over their feelings of guilt and anger about their disorder.
Night Eating Syndrome
Night eating syndrome (or NES) is a pattern of late-night binge eating and occurs when an individual consumes more than half of their daily caloric intake after eight o’clock at night. People who suffer from NES will have a lack of appetite in the morning and then overeat at night as a way to cope with stress and emotional issues. Symptoms of NES include depression, anxiety and insomnia. It may also lead to obesity.
Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with healthy foods. People who suffer from this disorder will restrict their diets and only allow themselves to eat what they perceive to be healthy foods. Unlike anorexics who restrict their diets because they fear becoming fat, orthorexics know they are thin and restrict their diets because they only want to consume foods they consider to be “pure.” This restriction of food often results in a limited diet that lacks proper nutrition and calories. It is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and can lead to malnutrition and even starvation.