• Shruti GOCHHWAL

6 Types of Eating Disorders

Do you often feel the urge to eat more? Are you not satisfied with your diet or don’t feel full even after having a heartful meal? Well! Then you may be suffering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders are considered to be a range of psychological conditions which makes you adopt unhealthy eating habits. In severe cases, eating disorders can pose a real problem to your health and may even lead to death if not treated.

What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders are mental health conditions which start with an obsession of eating a particular food or maintaining body shape. Eating disorders are found to be prevalent in adolescents and young women. Symptoms of an eating disorder may include binge eating, purging behaviours like vomiting or over-exercising.

Obese woman eating her meal, Image Credits: Wikimedia.org


What is the Reason Behind Developing an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders may be caused due to various factors. Some of them include:

  1. Genetics or hereditary factor.

  2. Personality traits like perfectionism, neuroticism, and impulsivity.

  3. Perceived pressures to be thin, and exposure to media influencing and promoting such ideals.

  4. Psychological differences and altered serotonin or dopamine levels, and stress.

Types of Eating Disorder

The most common types of eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-Eating Disorder. Whereas, rumination disorder, pica and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder are some of the other uncommon eating disorders.

#1 Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is a life-threatening disorder characterized by abnormally low body weight, very restricted eating behaviour, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of body image. It is most commonly found to affect young adults and women. Anorexia nervosa is classified into two types:

  1. Restricting – In this type, an individual tries to starve themselves or lose weight solely through dieting, fasting, or exercising.

  2. Binge eating and purging- In this type,  individuals binge on large amounts of foods or may eat little and then purge out either by vomiting, taking laxatives, or by performing strenuous physical activity.

Anorexia may cause thinning of bones, infertility, brittle hair and nails, and in severe cases, it can lead to multi-organ failure and death.

#2 Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a lack of control over your eating behaviour. It usually develops during adolescence and early adulthood and is found to be more common in women. People with bulimia tend to eat unusually large amounts of food and then attempt to purge in order to compensate for the calories consumed and to relieve gut discomfort.

Side effects: Inflamed and sore throat, worn tooth enamel,  irritation of the gut, acid reflux, severe dehydration, and altered hormone levels. In severe cases, an electrolyte imbalance may occur which can result in stroke or heart attack.

#3 Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating is eating unusually large amounts of food in relatively short periods of time. People with binge eating disorder do not restrict calories or use any purging behaviours and later on, they feel disgusted shame, and guilt when thinking about their binge eating behaviour.

People with binge eating behaviour are overweight or obese and are prone to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

#4 Pica

Pica is an unusual behaviour of eating things that are not considered as foods. In pica, individuals crave for non- food substances like ice, dirt, chalk, soil, or cornstarch. Adults, children, adolescents and pregnant women are likely to suffer from Pica. It can also be seen in individuals with mental disabilities.

Side effects: Pica may result in an increased risk of poisoning,  gut injuries, infections, and malnutrition.

#5 Rumination Disorder

Ruminating disorder is a condition where the individual regurgitates food into the mouth and re-chews it, and then either re-swallows it or spits it out. This disorder is seen in infants, childhood, or adulthood.

Rumination disorder may lead to weight loss and severe malnutrition.

#6 Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Also known as “feeding disorder of infancy and early childhood,”. This type of disorder is commonly observed in children and infants but it can also be seen in adults. Individuals with this disorder avoid or restrict certain foods due to a lack of interest in eating, or develops a distaste for certain smells, taste, look and texture.

This disorder may lead to nutrient deficiencies or dependence on supplements or tube feeding.

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