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Understanding the Types of Eating Disorders

Understanding the types of eatingdisorders can help you find solutions. On this page, we provide explanations about the main types of eating disorders, and 4 common types.

Do you worry about your weight and food often? Are you only able to follow a sensible diet and exercise for a limited time? Do you or your child go through extremes about food, diet, and body size? Unhealthy eating habits and eatingdisorders can put our own or our children’s lives at risk. Often we try to use food to cope with emotional and psychological issues.

Extreme diets, excessive food consumption, and an over-emphasis on calorie counting linked to a poor self-image can all be signs of an eating disorder. Most eating disordersdevelop among adolescent and young women. Men and older women may also be affected.


 

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Six Types of Eating Disorders

There are two main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and 4 common types.

1. Anorexia

Do you attempt to lose weight by starving yourself?

Do you eat an extremely low fat diet? Do you feel fat no matter how much weight you lose? If this is you or your child, you may suffer with anorexia. Anorexics may suffer from brittle bones, brittle hair and nails, thin skin, anemia, constipation, or lethargy. You may appear skeletal. You may be more susceptible to other illnesses, which could become fatal.

You could have started out on a diet to lose a few pounds and continued to drop weight because you felt successful. You may have also developed a sense of control when your life seemed chaotic. You do not want to gain weight under any circumstances.

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2. Bulimia

Do you Struggle with feelings of shame over the secret of binging and purging?

Bulimia is characterized by bouts of binge eating, followed by secret efforts to rid one’s self of food. Some of the desperatemethods people use to purge food include vomiting, fasting, excessive exercise, diuretics, and laxatives.

If you are bulimic you may not be underweight, however, you may feel inadequate that your body is not perfect. You may experience a sense of low self-esteem or self-loathing because of a poor body image.

If Bulimia continues for a sustained period, you may also suffer from related health problems affecting thegastrointestinal system, the mouth, teeth, and kidneys. Purging may also result in dehydration.

Other Common Types of Eating Disorders

3. Binge Eating Disorder

Do you spend too much time thinking about food? Does food serve as a distraction from uncomfortable moments in your life?

Compulsive overeating may be your way of avoiding painful feelings.

Binge Eating Disorder is repeated binging to “numb out stress”. You may feel shame or disgust when you cannot control your eating. Even a small amount of food you deem “illegal” might be considered a binge.

You stuff yourself to the point where you feel painfully full. Often the binge eating is done in secret. Even though you are upset, you may feel unable to STOP!

Binge eating disorder can cause weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder problems, heart issues, poor circulation, joints deterioration, as well as other difficulties.

4. Obesity

Are you more than 100lbs overweight? Do you feel shame about your size?

Chances are that you are morbidly obese. Obesity is a complicated disorder. It can be partly genetic, hormonal, behavioral, environmental, and possibly cultural.

If you live with the awkwardness and discomfort of obesity, you may experience shame often. Most people do not understand what it is like to be unable to sit in a “regular size chair”, move around the isles of a grocery store, or have others stare at you because of your size. Obesity is painful. You may feel stuck at home, alone, and unable to enjoy a social life.


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You eat to fill emptiness, experience temporary euphoria, and sooth pressures. Similar to binge eating disorder, eating may have little to do with hunger and can provide some immediate relief from the pain but exacerbate the struggle in the long run.

Types of Eating Disorders in Children

5. Childhood Obesity

Are you upset because your child gaining too much weight? As a parent, this is a very difficult issue to tackle. If you have battled with your own weight, it may pain you to see your child gaining excess pounds. You may remember being teased in school and want to prevent this from happening to your child. BUT if you become to controlling or critical, your child may rebel and eat high calorie foods when you are not around. It is possible that an eating disorder can develop in the future. A child is considered obese when their weight is more than 20% higher average. Childhood obesity is a complicated disorder in its cause and effects.

If a child is obese in early childhood, and has obese parents, chances are the child may be obese throughout life. Children who are obese have a greater risk for medical problems as well as severe social and psychological problems.

6. Food Refusal in Young Children

Are you frustrated and worried because your toddler orpreschool child refuses to eat?

Is your young child an erratic eater? Does he or she enjoy a certain food one day and refuse the same food the next? Do you feel like you are going crazy trying to find something he or she will eat? You may be astonished when the meal refused at home is eaten at someone elses house. Well, you are not alone in your frustration. Food refusal can be a common problem for healthy active young children.

Usually these problems can be attributed to changes in appetite or likes and dislikes of certain tastes. At times children use food for control. Children from an early age canlearn how to trigger their parent’s anxiety. There are strategies that can be helpful. If the problem persists however, you should seek help from your pediatrician because there can be medical issues involved, for these types of eating disorders.


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For more on eating disorders and compulsive eating, see Colette Dowling’s website on hormonal influences on women’s mental health

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