What is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are a group of conditions marked by an unhealthy relationship with food. There are three main types of eating disorders:
Anorexia nervosa. This is characterized by weight loss often due to excessive dieting and exercise, sometimes to the point of starvation. Someone with anorexia can never be thin enough and continues to see herself as “fat” despite extreme weight loss.
Bulimia nervosa. The condition is marked by cycles of extreme overeating, known as bingeing, followed by purging or other behaviors to compensate for the overeating. It is also associated with feelings of loss of control about eating.
Binge eating disorder. This is characterized by regular episodes of extreme overeating and feelings of loss of control about eating.
Eating disorders tend to develop during the teenage and young adult years, and they are much more common in girls and women. No one knows the precise cause of eating disorders, but they seem to coexist with psychological and medical issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, trouble coping with emotions, and substance abuse.
For some people, a preoccupation with food becomes a way to gain control over one aspect of their lives. Although it may start out as simply eating a bit more or less than usual, the behavior can spiral out of control and take over the person’s life. Eating disorders are a serious medical problem that can have long-term health consequences if left untreated.
What is Disordered Eating?
Disordered eating is a term used to describe eating habits or patterns that are irregular. Many different types of disordered eating habits exist, but for the most part these habits do not add up to a diagnosis of an eating disorder...Excluding whole food groups (for example, all fats or all carbohydrates), eating only at particular times of the day, eating only specific foods, eating only foods of a specific color, eating only foods of a specific texture, not eating certain foods together in a sitting and not eating specific foods from the same plate can all be types of disordered eating.