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What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders can affect those of any age, gender or nationality. An eating disorder can be recognised as an illness which has a negative effect on a person’s quality of life.

There are many types of eating disorders with the main ones listed below:

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight and a constant desire to lose more weight (can often appear as a large weight loss but is not always the case)
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted body image, a self-esteem that is heavily influenced by perceptions of body weight and shape, or a denial of the seriousness of low body weight
  • Lack of menstruation among girls and women
  • Severe anxiety around food groups (for example fats and carbohydrates), avoidance of eating in front of people which will often lead to the person telling people they have already eaten
  • Controlling weight through the use of other methods besides restricting which may include excessive exercise, use of slimming pills, diuretics, laxatives, and self-induced vomiting.

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Consuming large quantities of food and feeling out of control during these episodes. This binge-eating is followed by a behaviour that tries to compensate for the overeating for example, self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, and can involve severe episodes of restricting diet (may include fluids), excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviours
  • Often people with bulimia usually maintain what is considered a healthy or normal weight, and are sometimes overweight. However, similar to anorexia they is often an intense fear of gaining weight and are extremely unhappy with their body size and shape. Very often those with bulimia carry out their behaviours in secret, due to feelings of shame and disgust.

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Regularly eating large portions of food all at once until you feel uncomfortably full, and then often upset or guilty. People often find it difficult to stop during a binge even if they want to. Some people with binge eating disorder have described feeling disconnected from what they’re doing during a binge, or even struggling to remember what they’ve eaten afterwards.

ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)

  • ARFID is a new diagnosis and was previously referred to as “Selective Eating Disorder.” ARFID is similar to anorexia in that both disorders involve limitations in the amount and/or types of food consumed, but unlike anorexia, ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness.
  • Although many children go through phases of picky or selective eating, a person with ARFID does not consume enough calories to grow and develop properly and, in adults, to maintain basic body function. In children, this results in stalled weight gain and vertical growth; in adults, this results in weight loss. ARFID can also result in problems at school or work, due to difficulties eating with others and extended times needed to eat.


Pica is an eating disorder that involves consuming things that are not considered food. People with this disorder crave non-food substances, such as, dirt, soil, soap, paper, cloth, wool, pebbles, etc.

Rumination Disorder

Rumination disorder is a newly accepted eating disorder. It is a disorder where an individual regurgitates food they have previously chewed and swallowed, re-chews it, and then either re-swallows it or spits it out.


Orthorexia is an eating disorder where an individual has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexia mostly revolves around food quality, not quantity. Instead, the individual has an extreme fixation with the “purity” of their foods, as well as an obsession with the benefits of healthy eating.

Whilst we appreciate there are various criteria for diagnosing eating disorders, we will offer help to anyone whose life is affected by their eating issues.