What Is An Eating Disorder Anyway?


According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (NEDA), "eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder." As such, eating disorders are very serious and have a wide range of emotional, behavioral and psychological health risks.

The most common and frequently misunderstood eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Bulimia Nervosa.

Anorexia Nervosa: Common Signs And Symptoms 

According to NEDA, Anorexia Nervosa (sometimes referred to simply as "anorexia") is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by starvation that leads to excessive weight loss.  Common signs/symptoms of anorexia include the following: 

  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is too low.
  • Intense fear of gaining weight, obsession with weight and persistent efforts to avoid gaining weight.
  • Inability to recognize seriousness or irrational nature of weight loss.
  • Strange food rituals / meal time behaviors (i.e. excessive cutting of food, inappropriate mixing of food, making food inedible with condiment use).
  • Significant avoidance of social situations that involve food.
  • Obsessive and intense need to control the preparation of all food ingested.
  • Excessively weighing oneself.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is an eating disorder characterized by frequent, recurrent episodes (commonly referred to as "binging") of considering large amounts of food to the point of discomfort over a short time span.

People frequently feel intense shame, guilt, and fear following a binge and will describe feeling out of control while binging.

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by cycles of binging and then engaging in compensatory behaviors to avoid gaining weight and / or to "undo" or compensate for the act of binging.  Common compensatory behaviors of people suffering from bulimia nervosa include:

  • Excessive exercise.
  • Laxative and enema abuse.
  • Self-induced vomiting.

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