The Different Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders

The Different Types of Eating Disorders

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder involves avoiding certain types of food and/or eating only small amounts of food. It usually affects younger people but can also affect adults. The person involved may have little to no interest in food and eating or they may find the process of eating unenjoyable and so only eat small amounts of food. Alternatively, they may avoid certain food or types of food because they are very sensitive to the smell, colour, taste, temperature or texture of certain food items. In other cases, someone may avoid eating food because they are afraid of what may happen when they eat. For example, they may fear choking if they have experienced choking on a previous occasion.

Eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia nervosa

Those suffering with Anorexia Nervosa, will typically have a distorted view of their body weight, size or shape and have a very intense fear of gaining weight. This in turn convinces the person that they are larger than they actually are and so drives them to engage in a number of rigid and strict behaviours in order to not gain weight. This often results in the person trying to maintain a body weight that is significantly lower than what would be healthy for them. There are two identified types of Anorexia Nervosa although it is not unusual for a person to have both of these at different times. 

The first, the Restricting type, will typically involve a person trying to lose weight through fasting, dieting and/or excessive physical activity or exercise. The second type, Binge-Eating/Purging type would typically involve the person trying to lose weight by engaging in recurrent episodes of binge eating or purging behaviours (e.g., self-induced vomiting, the misuse of laxatives or diuretics).

Bulimia nervosa

Those experiencing Bulimia Nervosa will often make judgements about who they are as a person based on how they perceive their body weight, shape and size. This often results in episodes of binge eating, where they eat a very large amount of food quickly, even when they are not actually hungry. They are likely to feel that they cannot control their eating during these episodes, so will tend to keep eating until they are either uncomfortably or painfully full. This is often followed by behaviours to prevent any weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications.

Bulimia nervosa​

Binge-eating disorder

Those with Binge-Eating Disorder will typically binge eat, in a similar manner to those with Bulimia Nervosa. However, they will not go on to engage in any behaviours that would minimise or prevent weight gain after the binge eating episode has finished.

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) captures those who present with symptoms that do not meet criteria for any of the above diagnoses but nevertheless cause significant distress and impairment in daily functioning. For example:

  1. Atypical Anorexia Nervosa refers to those who meet all of the criteria for Anorexia Nervosa, except that their weight is either within or above normative ranges. 
  2. Bulimia Nervosa (of low frequency and/or limited duration) refers to those who may meet all of the criteria for Bulimia Nervosa, but these symptoms may have only recently begun or may occur on an infrequent basis.
  3. Purging disorder refers to those who engage in behaviours such as self-induced vomiting in order to influence their weight or shape.
  4. Night Eating Syndrome refers to those who regularly consume large quantities of food in the evening or in the middle of the night. 

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder

The Unspecified feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED) category is typically used when information required to make a more specific diagnosis is unavailable.

Contact Maudsley Health for More Eating Disorder related services.