Thursday, February 25, 2016

Eating Disorders: Types & Terms

NEDA, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

There are a few common eating disorders out there, with a ton of different criteria and terms that go along with them. It can get pretty jumbled and confusion, especially if you are trying to understand a friend who suffers from an ED, or you think you may have one. Today I wanted to kind of break down what is what. If you want to learn more (because I'm not covering everything nor am I an expert) you can go here (or here, or here).

Common Eating Disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa- An ED where the person restricts their food intake to the point where it is inadequate. There is an intense fear of weight gain, steps taken to prevent weight gain, and the person doe snot appreciate the severity of the issue (aka doesn't think it's a problem). There is Restrictive Type where the person just restricts their food intake to an inadequate amount, and then there is Binge-Eating and/or Purging Type where the person engages in binge-eating behaviors and/or purging behaviors. (Note: This is different than Bulimia due to inadequate food intake, and the person may only binge-eat, only purge, or do both). People with Anorexia are generally underweight but not always.

Bulimia Nervosa- An ED where the person will have frequently intake very large amounts of food (think an entire days worth of calories) in one sitting, and then partake in purging behaviors to prevent weight gain. This usually happens in episodes, and the person may follow a fairly normal diet at other times... or not. It depends on the person. (Note: This is different than Anorexia Nervosa due to the extreme amount of food intake and lack of day to day restrictive food intake). People with Bulimia Nervosa are generally average weight (surprise, it can be tricky to catch), but not always.

Binge-Eating Disorder- An ED where the person will frequently intake very large amounts of food in one sitting, but does not purge in order to prevent weight gain. People with Binge-Eating Disorder are generally over-weight, but not always.

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)- An ED where the person may fit most of the criteria for one ED, but not all of the criteria, or maybe they fit some of the criteria for multiple EDs. An example is someone who partakes in Anorexia behaviors, but is not underweight (which is part of the criteria), or a person who partakes in the binge-eating and purging of bulimia, but not frequently, or a person who purges, but does not partake in restricting intake (anorexia) or binge-eating (bulimia). Many people fall into this category.


Restricting- An ED behavior where the person restricts their food intake. For example they may limit the amount of calories they can eat in a day, or how many meals they eat, or not eat at all. It's important to note that restricting is like taking dieting to a whole new unhealthy level.

Binge-eating- An ED behavior where the person will eat a large amount of food in one sitting. When seen with Anorexia, a binge is when the person eats more than they usually would. A typical binge may be eating 2,000 calories in one sitting. An anorexia binge may be eating half of a normal size meal (if that person usually wouldn't that meal at all).

Purging- An ED behavior where the person will try to compensate for eating, by vomiting, exercise, or laxative use. For example, after someone binges, they may make themselves vomit. Or if someone with Anorexia goes over their calorie allotment for the day, they may exercise to burn off extra calories.

Trigger-  Words, situations, thoughts, feelings, people, events... anything really, that causes ED behaviors to occur or worsen. Triggers are very specific to each person, and can vary greatly not only in specificity, but amount.  

Relapse- When someone who has recovered from an eating disorder starts to engage in those ED behaviors again (restricting, binge-eating, purging, etc) this is called a relapse. They can last anywhere from a day to a month to a year or more. On average it takes a person 6 years to fully recover and no longer have relapses.

I also wanted to mention Orthorexia which is an obsession with only eating foods that the person deems healthy, pure, or just okay by their standards. It is becoming more widely accepted as an ED, so I thought it should be mentioned.

NEDA, NEDAwareness

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below! Again, I'm not an expert, doctor, nutritionist, or any of that fun stuff. But having an ED, I do know the lingo, and the diagnostic criteria is also in the DSM-V which is what we use in my field to diagnose mental health conditions/disorders, so I have a good sense of what is what. You can click the image above to get a more detailed breakdown (I used it as a reference) as well as many other sites like this one, or this one.

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