A source of joy and nourishment for most, the cause of mental health anguish in many/ Pexels Ash

Eating Disorder and its common types

Eating disorders are complex mental health illnesses that cause severe and persistent disturbances in eating habits and cause dysfunctional thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors towards food, body weight, and body image. Eating disorders are a serious medical condition as they can cause emotional, physical, and psychological damage.

There are many different types of eating disorders and, together, they affect nearly five per cent of the population. It is a prevalent myth that these disorders are overblown in terms of their severirity, which is blatantly untrue as eating disorders have some of the highest mortality rates of any illness in the world.


Once considered an affliction exclusive to women, an increasing number of male and non-gender conforming individuals are also known to suffer from the condition. These disorders can happen at any age and are not exclusive to any country, nationality, or race. The role of genetics and family hereditary can increase the chances of having an eating disorder.

The causes of eating disorders are also complex in nature, with a multitude of factors capable of influencing the situation. People who struggle with low self-esteem, impulsive behavior, toxic relationships, and perfectionism are vulnerable.

These disorders are also related to other mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Social and cultural pressure along with expectations to maintain a certain body type also contribute to these disorders.


The signs of eating disorders are highly varied in nature as there are many different types of disorders. Common signs of an eating disorder include dramatic body transformations, where an individual either gains or loses large amounts in a relatively short span of time.


Individuals suffering from this disorder often display an anxiety around food, which is expressed through restrictive eating, binging on food, vomiting to lose weight, and excessive exercise. They often find their minds preoccupied with thoughts of their meals, their body shape, and their bodyweight.

This fixation on food and its effect on their bodies causes them to exhibit behaviors like avoiding meals, avoiding social interactions where food is present, vomiting on purpose, exercising obsesively, and using laxatives or diuretics to control their weight. They have negative perceptions of their body and food because of their disorder.

Types Of Eating Disorder


There are many different types of eating disorders that afflict many people across the globe. Here are some of the most popular ones:

1) Anorexia Nervousa

This is the most well-known eating disorder and it usually develops during adolescence and young adulthood. This disorder is arguably far more common in women than in men and it causes those with the disorder to feel like they are excessively overweight even when they are not.

Anorexics are obsessed with keeping their eight down and maintaining a slim figure/ Pexels Polina Tankilevitch

Individuals constantly monitor their weight fluctuations, restrict the amount of calories they consume, and avoid certain foods altogether. They have an obsession with losing weight and pursuing an unattainable lean body type.

Their bodyweight is linked to their low self-esteem, prompting them to have a distorted view of their own body. Individuals suffering from the disorder display obsessive compulsive symptoms as they are more likely to constantly think about food.

There are two subcategories of anorexia nervousa disorder: the first type looks to restrict all foods while the second type looks to binge and then purge the food.

The restrictive type is more likely to have severely restrictive diets or exercise excessively. The other type will purge what they have eaten by vomiting or taking laxatives.

2) Bulimia

Bulimia likely develops during adoloscence and causes the individual to consume large quantities of food to the point of feeling sick. They eat a large portion of food in a specific period of time as they cannot control the amount of food they eat. The food that the individual usually binges on is food that they try to avoid.

People who suffer from the bulimia disorder cannot stop their binges, often consuming fast food/ Pexels Robin Stickel

Individuals with this disorder then try to purge their stomachs from the amount of food they have eaten to compensate for the amount of calories consumed. These symptoms are harder to detect than anorexia as individuals maintain a relatively normal weight.


However, many of the problems are similar to how an individual's sense of esteem is linked to their body. They also feel like they are grossly overweight and face many physical problems like acid reflux, tooth decay, hormonal disturbances, and irritation of the gut.

3) Binge Eating Disorder

This is the most common type of eating disorder and many adolescents face this issue. Similar to bulimia, those who have this disorder face problems from lack of control during certain periods where they consume large quantities of food to the point of feeling sick even if they are not hungry.


Unlike anorexia and bulimia, individuals do not feel the need to compensate for the amount of calories consumed. However, they feel emotional anguish in the form of guilt and shame as well as physical problems as a result of consuming large quantities of less nutritious food.

4) Pica

This disorder is more commonly seen in children below six years old and those with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, causing them to consume materials and objects not meant for consumption. Things consumed by those with this disorder include dirt, stone, wood, hair, laundry detergent, and so on. These individuals are at high risk of poisoning and other illnesses.


While eating disorders may seem less harmful than most illnesses, this is not the case as it can often prove to be fatal. Those suffering from this type of disorder have hope as there are proven treatments.

Therapists who use techniques like cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which focuses on dismantaling unhelpful and harmful thought processes, have been shown to be effective. Medication can be prescribed that will help the patient deal with the root cause of their disorder. Nutritonal counseling is also extremely beneficial as it teaches patients on how to view food, their bodies, and their physique.


Quick Links

Edited by
Aranya Chaudhury
See more
More from Sportskeeda