8 Types Of Eating Disorders

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With a rise in psychological illnesses, eating disorders are common in people.

About 3% of children, adolescents, and young adults develop an eating disorder some time or the other. Such disorders involve body systems and the individual’s social relationships.

Here are all the different types of eating disorders.

1. Pica

Pica is a compulsive eating disorder in which people regularly eat non-food items or food with no nutritional value. People with pica tend to eat items such as ice, soap, dirt, clay, cigarette butts, paint flakes, metal, glue, or chalk.

Studies show that pica is common in children with intellectual disabilities, but severe and long-lasting in children with developmental disabilities. Some cases are seen in pregnant women also.

Pica can have serious complications such as choking, lead poisoning, blockages in the stomach and intestines, damage to body organs, or parasitic infections.

Related: How to support someone with an eating disorder

2. Rumination Disorder

Rumination disorder affects mostly young children. It is characterized by the regurgitation of recently swallowed food back into the mouth. The undigested food is re-chewed, re-swallowed, or spit out.

Rumination disorder involves frequent regurgitation either immediately or within 30 mins of eating food.

Children with rumination syndrome will show signs of bad breath, weight loss, tooth decay, indigestions, abdominal pain, and dry lips.

3. Bulimia Nervosa (BN)

People with bulimia show by restricted food intake, followed by an out of control urge to binge eat more than the average quantity in a short time. It leads to a compensatory behavior known as purging due to intense feelings of shame, guilt, anger, or disgust.

The compensatory behaviors, also known as bulimia behaviors, are purging (self-induced vomiting or ill-using laxatives), intense fasting, or extreme exercising.

People with bulimia will suffer from oral trauma, electrolyte imbalance, stomach and kidney damage, anxiety and depression, and side effects of excessive purging.

4. Anorexia Nervosa (AN)

People with anorexia nervosa exhibit self-starvation and extreme weight loss. Due to the fear of gaining weight, anorexics restrict the food intake, engage in arduous exercises, and purging.

Anorexics weigh about 15% less than their typical body weight.

Anorexia is different from bulimia. Anorexics are often hungry, but refuse to consume food anyway because of distorted body image. Despite being underweight, anorexics think they are fat. People with anorexia also avoid eating in front of others.

Effects of anorexia are severe loss of muscle mass, fatigue, lethargy, infertility, osteoporosis, self-denial issues, depression, and bad breath and tooth decay due to vomiting.

5. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

People with ARFID are extreme “picky eaters”. They avoid having certain types of food due to disinterest in eating, fear of unpleasant consequences of eating or avoid food altogether based on sensory characteristics and texture.

Affecting infants, children, and some times young adults, ARFID, unlike bulimia or anorexia, is not associated with the fear of gaining weight or body image issues.

ARFID can cause nutritional deficiencies, weight loss, weakness, or compromised psychological functioning.

6. Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

A person with binge eating disorder may consume a large amount of food in a short period. They tend to binge-eat very fast without realizing or even if they aren’t hungry.

The quantity of food consumed during a bingeing episode is significantly larger than what a person would eat in the same amount of time.

Binge eating might provide a brief period of comfort from stress or anxiety. But, such episodes are followed by feelings of disgust, shame, or embarrassment. Unlike bulimia, BED doesn’t involve purging or excessive exercising.

BED, typically seen in late adolescents or young adults, can cause obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, chronic pain conditions, disrupt sleep patterns, and affect social interactions.

7. Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

When a person’s eating habits and behavior can cause significant distress or even be fatal but don’t meet the criteria for a specified eating disorder, then it falls in the category of OSFED.

Still an eating disorder, OSFED typically includes cases that involve severe food restrictions, purging without bingeing, body image concerns, and disturbed eating patterns.

8. Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED)

UFED is diagnosed when the symptoms do not meet the criteria for any of the other feeding and eating disorders counting OSFED. However, symptoms of UFED can cause significant distress and impairment of several different functions related to food and eating behaviors.

UFEDs entail a more specific diagnosis due to a lack of information available on these lesser-known eating disorders.

The long term effects of eating disorders can be fatal and thus require treatment and therapy. These commonly occurring eating disorders in adolescents demand mental health awareness to address their psychological and physical health.

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