6 Common Types of Eating Disorders & How to Treat Them
Eating disorders are basically behavioral conditions that affect an individual’s eating behaviors through associated negative or distressing thoughts, feelings, or emotions.
It is believed that about 5% of the world’s population suffers from one or more eating disorders. And typically, these disorders develop in young adulthood and adolescence.
Some types of eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, tend to be more common among women. However, the truth of the matter is that eating disorders can affect any person in any age category.
Eating disorders are incredibly dangerous because they affect the mentality and behavioral patterns based around a person’s eating habits.
As humans, we need food to sustain us.
And thus, eating disorders throw a wrench into the normal mechanisms that govern our means of consuming the fuel our bodies need in order to perform well, achieve optimal health and wellness, and live a balanced and happy life.
With that being said, knowledge is really where the power to overcome eating disorders comes from.
So in this blog post, you’re going to learn about six of the most common types of eating disorders, and how these disorders are commonly treated by medical professionals.
Let’s dive into it.
1. Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa is a serious eating disorder that’s driven by an intense fear of gaining weight. It’s also usually accompanied by a distorted body image.
People with this eating disorder tend to restrict their food intake to an extreme degree (which is dangerous).
They also tend to engage in excessive exercise, and may even use laxatives or diuretics to lose weight.
Anorexia can lead to severe, dangerous, and even deadly health consequences, including malnutrition, organ failure, and even death.
Treating this disorder often involves a combination of psychotherapy, nutrition counseling, and medication.
Note that cannabis is being used more and more in the treatment of eating disorders—but in order to make this work, you generally need to find the proper strain.
Check out this guide to learn more about how to find the right strain if you’re a beginner with cannabis.
2. Bulimia Nervosa
Bulimia Nervosa is another common eating disorder.
It’s often characterized by episodes of binge eating—followed by purging behaviors. These behaviors may include self-induced vomiting or even the use of laxatives or diuretics.
People with bulimia generally feel a complete and total ‘lack of control’ during their binging episodes, and then tend to experience intense shame or guilt afterward.
This eating disorder can lead to serious health complications. Some associated problems include issues like electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems, and even dental issues (due to vomiting).
Treatment for bulimia will generally involve therapy, nutrition counseling, and sometimes medication.
3. Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder is a type of eating disorder characterized by frequent and recurring episodes of binge eating.
During these episodes, the person suffering from the disorder will tend to consume an excessive amount of food in a very short period of time.
Unlike bulimia, binge eating episodes don’t tend to lead to purging behaviors.
Binge eating disorder can lead to unhealthy, excessive weight gain issues, obesity, and associated health problems—including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Treatment for this disorder generally involves therapy and nutrition counseling.
Pica is basically an eating disorder that causes the sufferer to consume non-food items (dirt, paper, chalk, etc).
Interestingly, this particular disorder is often associated with a mineral deficiency issue or other mental health disorders (obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example).
Pica can lead to serious health consequences, which may include issues like gastrointestinal problems and poisoning.
Treatment for this eating disorder involves addressing underlying medical, nutritional, or mental health issues. This may open the door to counseling and behavioral interventions.
5. Rumination Disorder
Rumination Disorder is one of the ‘rarer’ eating disorders on our list, and tends to be characterized by the regurgitation and re-chewing of food (after it’s already been swallowed).
One of the interesting things about this disorder is that people who suffer from it may not be aware that it’s happening. Thus, the behavior can become habitual and automatic.
Rumination disorder can lead to dangerous weight loss, malnutrition, and dental problems.
Treatment generally includes behavioral therapy and medication.
6. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is one of the more recently discovered and recognized eating disorders on our list.
It’s characterized by the avoidance or restriction of certain foods or food groups.
People with ARFID may suffer from particular sensory issues with certain foods or food groups. The disorder can also be brought about as a result of the fear of choking or vomiting.
If left untreated, this eating disorder can lead to malnutrition and other health problems.
Treatment generally involves therapy, nutrition counseling, and sometimes medication.
Eating disorders are complex and potentially life-threatening—and they almost always require specialized treatment.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s crucial to seek help from a qualified medical professional to get ahead of the issue and get it solved before the individual suffers from severe (or possibly permanent) injury or illness.