Eating disorders (ED) are complex mental health illnesses that can affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds. Below are the most common types:
🔸Anorexia nervosa– a potentially life-threatening ED characterised (but not exclusively) by food restriction, excessive weight loss, fear of weight gain, excessive exercise and/or distorted body image.
🔸Binge eating disorder (BED)- recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food in a short period of time. Characteristics of BED include: eating until uncomfortably full, eating faster than normal, eating large quantities when not physically hungry, feeling disconnected/ out of control while eating and feeling disgust, shame and/or guilt during or after a binge.
🔸Bulimia Nervosa – characterised by cycles of bingeing and purging. Purging refers to any behaviour that is adopted to compensate for binging for example, vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting or exercising excessively
🔸Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFOED)- sometimes a person’s symptoms may not exactly fit the diagnostic criteria for any specific ED. If this is the case, they might be diagnosed with OSFED. Specific examples of OSFED include: Atypical anorexia, Bulimia nervosa (low frequency and/or limited duration) and BED (low frequency and/or limited duration).
🔸Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder(ARFID) – characterised by avoidance/restriction/fear of certain foods or types of food. Potential reasons for avoidance/ restriction include: sensory based avoidance, concern about the consequences of eating or low interest in eating.
🔸Night eating syndrome – characterised by repeatedly eating at night (typically larger quantities) either after waking up from sleep or after having an evening meal.
👉🏻If you recognise the symptoms of an ED in yourself or anyone else please reach out and get help, there are people out there ready to support you such as registered dietitians and GP’s. For more information and online support including telephone helplines please visit BEAT UK website.
Huge thanks to Eimear Mc Coy for her help with this post.