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Types of Eating Disorders

Nowadays, we only ever hear about two types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, but did you know that there are many more eating disorders out there that we’ve never heard of? In this article we are going to shed some light on the different types of eating disorders that people suffer with.

Trigger warning: EDs

Anorexia Nervosa

Experts consider anorexia nervosa to be the most deadly of all mental illnesses because it has the highest mortality rate. Therefore it is implied that it is the most severe of all the eating disorders.

Anorexia nervosa involves severe food-restriction and sometimes extreme exercising and other purging behaviours.

Here are a few symptoms that can come with anorexia nervosa:

  • Intense fear of gaining weight, even small amounts are intolerable

  • Losing weight rapidly and consistently staying underweight

  • Refusal to acknowledge that such a low body weight can have harmful health consequences

  • Amenorrhea (when women stop menstruating due to low fat content)

  • Hair that thins, breaks and falls out

  • Low blood pressure

  • Dehydration

Here are a few complications that can come with anorexia nervosa:

  • Anaemia

  • Heart problems

  • Bone loss (osteoporosis)

  • Loss of muscle

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa occurs when someone is repeatedly binging on large amounts of food and then purging it. Purging behaviours include forcing oneself to throw up, over exercising, and using diet pills and laxatives.

Both binging and purging behaviours are dangerous, and together they can quickly lead to dangerous physical symptoms.

Here are a few symptoms that can come with bulimia nervosa:

  • Being preoccupied with body shape and weight

  • Repeated episodes of eating abnormally large amounts of food in one sitting

  • Feeling a loss of control during bingeing

  • Forcing yourself to vomit or exercising too much to keep from gaining weight

  • Using laxatives, diuretics or enemas after eating when they are not needed

  • Using dietary supplements or herbal products excessively for weight loss

Here are a few complications that can come with bulimia nervosa:

  • Negative self-esteem and problems with relationships and social functioning

  • Dehydration

  • Heart problems

  • Severe tooth decay

Muscle Dysmorphia

Unlike most types of eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia tends to affect more men than women. The disorder is characterised by a disruptive obsession with musculature and physique. An individual suffering with fixate on obtaining the ‘perfect’ form of musculature.

Here are a few symptoms that can come with muscle dysmorphia:

  • Intense fear of losing weight and ‘withering away’

  • Excessive exercise with the aim of ‘bulking-up’

  • Adhering to unconventional diets to help achieve that ‘ideal’ body shape

  • Use of steroids or dietary supplements aimed at increasing muscle mass

Here are a few complications that can come with muscle dysmorphia:

  • Depression or other mood disorders

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviour

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder is characterised by episodes of binging on large amounts of food. A binge describes when someone consumes an excessive amount of food within a period of two hours. Binges are accompanied by a trance-like state, feeling guilty and ashamed afterward, and weight gain.

Unlike bulimia nervosa, BED does not usually include any purging behaviours. Typically, those affected by BED are overweight or obese because of the binging.

Here are some symptoms that can come with BED:

  • Eating until you are uncomfortably full

  • Frequently eating alone or in secret

  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about eating

  • Frequently dieting

Here are some complications that can come with BED:

  • Poor quality of life

  • Problems functioning at work, personal life, or in social situations

  • Social isolation

  • Obesity

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED)

OSFED is a category of eating disorders that don’t fit into the above categories. Doctors and psychologists will often diagnose people who fall into this category with atypical anorexia or bulimia, as well as the following 7 unofficial diagnoses.

Note: The following eating disorders are unofficial diagnoses. Even though doctors and psychologists still use these terms, less extensive research has been done on them.

Compulsive Overeating (COE)

Compulsive overeating is similar to binge eating disorder. The only difference is that the individual suffering with COE will eat large amounts of food all day long.

Prader Willi Syndrome

Prader Willi Syndrome leads to compulsive eating and obesity, and is caused by an inherited genetic disease.

This begins with weak muscles, poor feeding, and slow development in babies. In childhood, this disease causes insatiable hunger. Children with Prader Willi Syndrome often develop diabetes and struggle to adapt to a normal lifestyle.


Diabulimia occurs when someone with diabetes uses their insulin prescription to induce weight loss.

Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia nervosa occurs when an individual is so obsessed with planning a perfect diet that it disrupts their life.

Selective Eating Disorder

Selective eating disorder is picky eating to an extreme, debilitating level. An individual suffering from this will usually only stick to one or two specific meals, leading them to fall sick.


Drunkorexia describes an eating disorder that is accompanied by alcoholism. The individual suffering with this restricts food and purges in order to “save calories” for drinking alcohol. This can lead to severe malnutrition.


Women with pregorexia will go into pregnancy with an extreme weight loss plan which can endanger both the mother and the baby. This can lead to low birth weight, coronary heart disease, type two diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease risk, and depression.


If you think you are suffering from any of these eating disorders, it is important to reach out for help. Click on the link in our bio for hotlines and resources to seek help!

Researcher: Charissa Lim, Editor: Hayley Wan, Thumbnail: Megan Kwok, Text Transcription: Charlotte Leung



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