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4 Common Types of Eating Disorders

types of eating disorders

In the U.S., millions of people have eating disorders. But types of eating disorders can take several forms. So recognizing them in ourselves or others isn’t easy. Also, some individuals don’t suffer from the physical and mental issues that prompt eating disorders but still experience what is termed disordered eating habits. The terminology can be confusing, so it’s important to have a grasp on some of the most common types of eating disorders. At Integrative Life Center, we understand the mind and body are intimately connected. Therefore, we offer treatment addressing disordered eating and can help those with eating disorders find the proper medical treatment they need to heal.

Anorexia

Anorexia is a disorder in which a person who is usually already below a healthy weight sees themselves as overweight. Your self-esteem is often tied to body image. And you may obsess about what you eat and heavily restrict intake in pursuit of thinness. You may also exercise excessively, purge, and/or take diet pills/drugs to keep the perceived extra weight off.

If you’re anorexic, you may not be willing, or able, to admit to yourself that you’re underweight and that it’s impacting your mental and physical health. That’s because you “know” what you see in the mirror is “reality.”

If left untreated, Anorexia, in particular, may lead to:

  • Dementia
  • Organ failure
  • Mental health conditions

Ultimately, if Anorexia is ignored, the individual can die.

Bulimia

Those with bulimia often feel out of control when they eat.

You may deprive yourself and then binge, in other words, alternating fasting with eating a lot. And you may then vomit or exercise excessively. Some people with bulimia also take laxatives, diuretics, or street drugs to “make up for” the binge.

You may also feel that you have to justify everything you eat and obsessively track calories/carbs to make sure you can justify it.

Bulimia may lead to:

  • Hormonal disruptions
  • Rotting teeth
  • Brittle bones
  • Dangerous dehydration
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Drug abuse
  • Death

Binge Eating

As you can see, there is some overlap in types of eating disorders. If you have binge eating disorder, you may also feel out of control when you eat. However, purging and calorie restriction are not part of the condition on a typical day, although you might “diet” from time to time.

You likely eat quickly. And you may “eat your emotions.” You may still feel hungry after eating large amounts of food. This can be due to hormonal imbalances caused by the binge, but also because you may not be eating healthy foods. Our bodies crave nutrition even though we may want unhealthy foods instead.

Those with binge eating disorder are at increased risk of:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Morbid obesity
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Death

Pica

Those with Pica disorder eat non-food items. Pica can be a mental health disorder. It can also indicate a potential nutrient deficiency that you’re subconsciously trying to correct with non-food items. So that should be explored.

You may feel compelled to eat something like clay, chalk, unused toilet paper, or cleaning products, just to name a few.

Depending on what you’re eating and how much, Pica can cause:

  • Intestinal blockages
  • Tears in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Emergency surgery
  • Malnutrition
  • Death

How We Treat These Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex mental and physical ailments requiring unique approaches to recover from properly. The Integrative Life Center takes an integrative and individualized approach to healing with therapies, such as:

If these or other types of eating disorders are sabotaging your health and happiness, please call us at 615.455.3903 to find out about our programs.

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