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Published On: Sep 13, 2018|Categories: Eating Disorder Information|

While mental health is becoming more widely understood within society, eating disorders are often still a topic of taboo. Often, these conditions are hidden and rarely talked about in daily life. For some people though, different types of eating disorders affect every moment of the day.

Understanding the signs and symptoms of different types of eating disorders is critical to preventing dangerous consequences. In this article we’ll look at all types of eating disorders, their symptoms and how you can get connected to treatment.

Types of Eating Disorders

If you’ve wondered “how many different types of eating disorder are there?”— you’ll want to consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders compiled by the American Psychological Association. Clinicians and mental health professionals abide by the definitions for eating disorders listed there. Different types of eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia;
  • Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder;
  • Binge Eating Disorder;
  • Bulimia;
  • Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders.

While each eating disorder has unique manifestations, all present with obsessions over food, weight and body image.


Anorexia, or anorexia nervosa, is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss that leads to an inappropriate body weight and, for many, a distorted body image. People experiencing anorexia restrict the number of calories and types of food they eat. In addition, some individuals suffering from anorexia exercise compulsively, purge food by vomiting and/or using laxatives and may also binge eat.

A person struggling with anorexia may have trouble eating, trouble maintaining body temperature and experience extreme fatigue. If left untreated, insufficient caloric intake could result in organ failure and death. More so than other  eating disorders, professional help could be a lifesaving measure.

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Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder was formerly called selective eating disorder. ARFID is much like anorexia, because both disorders are characterized by limiting the amount and/or types of foods eaten. ARFID differs from anorexia in that ARFID doesn’t involve any anguish regarding body shape or size or fears of being overweight. The primary focus with ARFID is food.

ARFID typically develops at a young age— generally in early childhood and extends into adulthood. This is more than just picky eating, though. ARFID means limits on food prevent someone from obtaining sufficient nutrients to function in daily life.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a serious and life-threatening disorder. People suffering from binge eating disorder frequently eat large quantities of food very quickly and to the point of discomfort. People suffering from this type of disorder also feel a loss of control during an eating binge.

Feelings of shame, distress and/or guilt following a binge are also typical. Unlike some other types of eating disorders like anorexia, purging or using laxatives isn’t a component of a binge eating disorder. It’s the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder in the United States, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.

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Bulimia nervosa is a serious, possibly fatal eating disorder. People suffering from bulimia experience a cycle of bingeing on food and then “undoing” the effects of binge eating by inducing vomiting, excessive exercising and/or fasting.

Bingeing episodes continue until a person is full to the point of discomfort and are followed by intense emotional repercussions. Guilt, shame, disappointment, depression and other negative feelings spur the cycle.

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Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders

Other specified feeding and eating disorders is a general classification that includes serious, life-threatening and treatable types of eating disorders that don’t exactly fit the criteria of other types of eating disorders. Even though this eating disorder is less clear, it’s still a significant eating disorder. OSFED may mimic the symptoms of other eating disorders, but are at a lower frequency or of limited duration.

OSFED encompasses a wide range of characteristics, so any or all of the following symptoms may be observed.

  • Episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by actions to avoid weight gain, such as inducing vomiting;
  • Feeling a loss of control during binge-eating incidents;
  • Self-esteem is excessively tied to body image;
  • Dieting excessively;
  • Expressing a desire to burn off calories taken in due to an intense fear of weight gain;
  • Using compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse, even after eating normal amounts of food;
  • Eating excessive amounts of food in nighttime hours.

Recognizing these and other signs of eating disorders in yourself may be difficult at first. Often, people who struggle with eating disorders are reluctant to accept that eating and weight management feel out of their control. While it can be scary to acknowledge the toll it has taken, don’t let an eating disorder run your life for one more day.

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Eating Disorders Recovery

Eating disorders are treatable, and recovery is possible. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms of eating disorders, it’s important to seek professional help. Symptoms can quickly spiral out of control, leading to a severe health crisis, so the sooner you reach out, the better. Get help and call 610-644-6464 today.

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