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5 types of eating disorder you need to know about

Avoid following any trendy diet that is doing the rounds. They may trigger episodes of binge eating.

While a recent study reveals the crucial indicators of eating disorders, we tell you about the most common types of this condition that affect people of all age and gender brackets.

Written by Nayonika Chakraborty |Published : July 1, 2019 6:06 PM IST

One can never be 'pretty enough' according to the standards we as a society have set. You're either too chubby or too skinny, too muscular or too frail. 'Too much', but still never enough. This unhealthy mindset is the very core reason for so many people becoming a victim of eating disorders. An eating disorder is an umbrella term for many conditions characterized by abnormal food habits.

A large-scale data study conducted by researchers at the UK-based Swansea University has revealed the crucial indicators of eating disorder. The study featured in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that people with this disorder had a history of suffering from other conditions quite frequently for years. The research, which involved 15,558 participants with eating disorders, came up with the following findings about them:

  • They had high rate of personality or alcohol disorders and depression
  • Frequent instances of accidents, injuries and self-harm were witnessed among them
  • Their medical history included a lot of prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants
  • They were under frequent treatments with drugs for gastrointestinal disorders for conditions like constipation and upset tummy. Dietetic supplements like multivitamins and iron have also been parts of their prescription.

These findings will surely help in the early diagnosis of eating disorders. Apart from these, there are various symptoms that one can watch out for to spot it. These include growth of fine body hair in the body, a change in voice (making it hoarse), and dry, pale or orange skin. Also, look for signs like eroded teeth and brittle nails, feeling cold abnormally or over exercising.

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The causes behind eating disorder can be multi-layered. One of the reasons can be heredity which is transferred to kids from parents. Your brain messengers like serotonin and dopamine could also be the culprits. Your personality traits can also be responsible for eating disorders. Neuroticism, perfectionism or impulsiveness are potential triggers. However, the most common cause behind it is our social societal pressure to look thin. That is why some of these disorders do not even exist in cultures where Western ideals of thinness have not yet taken over.


As already mentioned, eating disorder is spectrum disorder including different types of abnormal food habits. These habits can be harmful for your health in more ways than one. Here is a low-down on the most common types of eating disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa

It is a well-known eating disorder and is more commonly found in women than men. Bulimia nervosa generally tends to develop during a person's adolescence or early adulthood. People with this disorder will binge eat large amounts of food including the ones they would generally avoid in a very short amount of time. These are episodes where the patients feel that they cannot stop eating and have no control over it. They continue till they are painfully full. They try to compensate the amount of calories they have consumed previously by trying to purge it out of their body. This may include behaviours like forced vomiting, taking diuretics or laxatives, fasting, enemas and excessive exercise. People suffering from this eating disorder generally stay thin. They hardly become overweight.

Anorexia Nervosa

This too is a common and well-known disorder which tends to affect women mostly. It usually occurs during an individual's adolescence or early adulthood. People suffering from anorexia think that they are obese or overweight even if they aren't. of themselves as overweight no matter if they really are or are very thin. There are two traits of anorexia: Restrictive eating and binge eating and purging.

Restrictive eating: Individuals suffering from this type of anorexia tend to lose weight by limiting what they eat.

Binge eating and purging: Individuals suffering from this type of anorexia tend to binge and then purge it out of their body by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics. They also exercising excessively.

People with anorexia suffer from an intense fear of gaining weight. This can lead to thinning of their bones, infertility, brittle hair and nails. This eating disorder can also lead to the growth of a layer of fine hair all over their body over time. If not addressed on time, this condition, in severe cases can even lead to multi-organ failure or death.

Binge Eating Disorder

This condition is a recent phenomenon. It generally sets in during adolescence or early adulthood but can also affect you later on. People suffering from this eating disorder tend to eat food in large quantities. It is quite akin to Bulimia Nervosa or binge eating type of anorexia. But unlike these conditions, people suffering from binge eating disorder do not try to purge themselves of their consumed calories through vomiting or excessive exercising. That is why, this condition leads to excessive body weight or obesity and associated disorders.

Rumination Disorder

In this disorder the individual brings up already swallowed food to the mouth and chews it again to either swallow it once more or spit it out. This is also a fairly recent disorder and can develop during infancy, childhood or adulthood. During infancy it tends to occur between three to twelve months and may disappear on its own. However, older kids and adults with this condition should consider therapy. If one doesn't tackle this condition on time, rumination disorder can lead to malnutrition and abnormally low body weight.


People suffering with this condition have a craving for non-edible substances. These items could be anything from ice, dirt, soil, chalk, soap, paper, hair, cloth, wool, pebbles and laundry detergent to cornstarch. Pica can affect people of all ages including adults, children and even adolescent. However, it is more common in young kids, pregnant women or people with mental disabilities. Pica can lead to fatal food poisoning, infections or gut injuries.

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