Eating Disorder Types & Symptoms

According to the American Psychiatric Association, eating disorders are illnesses in which people experience severe disturbances in their eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. People with eating disorders typically become pre-occupied with food and their body weight. There are many different types of eating disorders:

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)
  • Pica
  • Rumination Disorder
  • Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)
Eating Disorder Types and Symptoms

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia Nervosa (anorexia) is a serious mental illness characterized by an obsession with weight, food and calories. People struggling with anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight leading to a restriction of food intake. Those struggling with anorexia have a hard time recognizing the reality of their current weight. Anorexia without significantly low body weight is classified as Atypical Anorexia (see OSFED section below).

Anorexia Nervosa has two subtypes:

  • Restrictor Subtype: involving the heavy restriction of food intake
  • Binge/Purge Subtype: involving eating large amounts of food, then purging, alongside a history of restriction.

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia Nervosa (bulimia) consists of recurrent episodes of binge eating along with compensatory behavior. People struggling with bulimia recurrently try to compensate for eating through fasting, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or use of laxatives, diuretics or other medications. They might also be very concerned about their weight or body shape. 

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) consists of recurrent episodes of binge eating. People struggling with binge eating disorder might eat much more rapidly than normal, eat until feeling uncomfortably full, eat large amounts of food without feeling physically hungry, or feel guilty, disgusted or depressed after eating.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder?

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is an obsession with an imaginary defect in physical appearance or an extreme concern with a slight physical blemish, which others may not even see. People struggling with body dysmorphic disorder have inaccurate perceptions of their body and often specific body parts, such as the hair, skin and nose.

What is Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder?

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a disturbance that keeps people from meeting their nutritional needs. People struggling with ARFID might experience significant weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, dependence on nutritional supplements, or interference with their psychosocial functioning.

What is Pica?

Pica involves eating substances that have no nutritional value for at least one month. Someone struggling with pica might eat a substance like ice, clay, soil or paper.

What is Rumination Disorder?

Rumination Disorder consists of repeated regurgitation of food for at least one month. This includes re-chewing, re-swallowing or spitting out food.

What is Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder?

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) occurs when someone meets some but not all of the criteria for an eating disorder. There are several categories of OSFED:

  • Atypical Anorexia Nervosa occurs when someone exhibits the symptoms of anorexia with a weight at or above a normal range.
  • Binge Eating Disorder with episodes that are less frequent or do not occur as long as needed to be formally diagnosed.
  • Bulimia Nervosa that is less frequent or did not occur as long as needed for the full diagnosis
  • Purging Disorder occurs when someone purges without binge eating.
  • Night Eating Syndrome occurs when a person consumes at least 25% of their daily intake after the evening meal.

Do you have an eating disorder?

Ask yourself, “How much time do I spend thinking about food, weight and body image?” Looking at eating disorders in this way puts them on a spectrum, rather than a yes or no question. If you spend so much time with these concerns that it interferes with your happiness or functioning, ANAD is here to help.