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Understanding Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder

Photo credits to Times of India

Eating disorders are complex and serious medical conditions characterized by severe disturbances in eating behaviours. They are not simply choices or lifestyle preferences but rather biologically influenced illnesses that can have significant physical and mental health implications. Recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate treatment is crucial for recovery. In this article, we will explore three common eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa: Anorexia nervosa is a condition where individuals have an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, leading them to avoid food, severely restrict their food intake, or consume only certain types of foods. Even when they are dangerously underweight, they may perceive themselves as overweight. Anorexia nervosa can be further classified into two subtypes: restrictive and binge-purge.

  1. Restrictive Subtype: Those with the restrictive subtype of anorexia nervosa significantly limit the quantity and variety of food they consume. They may strictly control their caloric intake, avoid certain food groups, and exhibit meticulous eating patterns.

  2. Binge-Purge Subtype: Individuals with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa engage in restrictive eating behaviours but also experience episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours. These compensatory behaviours can include self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or the misuse of laxatives or diuretics.

Bulimia Nervosa: Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming large amounts of food in a short period, accompanied by a feeling of lack of control over eating. After a binge-eating episode, individuals with bulimia nervosa employ various compensatory measures to prevent weight gain. These can include self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, excessive exercise, fasting, or a combination of these behaviours. Importantly, unlike individuals with anorexia nervosa, those with bulimia nervosa may maintain a normal weight or be overweight.

Binge-Eating Disorder: Binge-eating disorder involves recurrent episodes of consuming large quantities of food, similar to bulimia nervosa, but without engaging in compensatory behaviours. Individuals with binge-eating disorder experience a loss of control during these episodes, often feeling distressed, guilty, or ashamed afterwards. Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge-eating disorder is often associated with being overweight or obese.

In conclusion, Eating disorders are severe and potentially life-threatening conditions that require professional intervention. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder each have distinct characteristics, but all can negatively impact an individual's physical and mental well-being. It is important to remember that recovery is possible with the right treatment and support. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to a healthcare professional who specializes in eating disorders to receive the necessary help and guidance.

Remember, seeking help is a courageous step toward reclaiming a healthy relationship with food and oneself.



Eating disorders: About more than food. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Eating disorders: MedlinePlus. (2021, June 16).

What is an eating disorder: Types, symptoms, risks, and causes. (2022, July 29). Eating Disorder Hope.

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