4 Major Types Of Eating Disorder Symptoms That You Should Be Aware About

Medical Condition


Published on: 14-Feb-2024


10 min read




Anushka Tripathi


4 Major Types Of Eating Disorder Symptoms That You Should Be Aware About

4 Major Types Of Eating Disorder Symptoms That You Should Be Aware About

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Food – it fuels our bodies, nourishes our souls, and brings us together. But for many, the relationship with food can become strained and distorted, leading to the complex and often hidden world of eating disorders. Understanding the different types and key eating disorder symptoms is crucial for early intervention and seeking help.

Eating disorders are serious health conditions affecting your physical as well as your mental health and have been extensively described in the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the American Psychiatric Association. They often go unnoticed or misunderstood but they are mostly characterised by unhealthy eating habits, distorted body image, and an intense fear of gaining weight. 

Alarmingly, if not treated effectively these eating disorders can become long-term problems and, in some cases, can cause death. The most commonly known eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder

In this blog post, we'll shed light on common behavioural, emotional, and physical eating disorder symptoms associated with each type, empowering you to recognise potential warning signs in yourself or loved ones. So, let's open this dialogue, break down the stigma, and create a safe space for understanding and support.

Table Of Contents

1. Defining Eating Disorders

2. Types Of Eating Disorder Symptoms

3. Neurobiological Aspects Of Food Addiction In Eating Disorders

4. Treatment Approaches For Eating Disorders 

5. The Final say

6. FAQs

7. References

Defining Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are behaviours that are often characterised by a loss of control and continued consumption in regards to food despite negative consequences, Food addiction refers to a behavioural pattern where individuals exhibit addictive-like behaviours towards certain types of food. Many experts acknowledge that food addiction shares similarities with substance addiction and an obsessive preoccupation with specific foods.

Types Of Eating Disorder Symptoms

There are certain types of eating disorders that you must be unaware of. Here are the types of eating disorder symptoms that you must know:

1. Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms

Anorexia nervosa is an extreme calorie restriction condition, one of the eating disorder symptoms which is the most well-known eating disorder with an obsession with weight loss. It is vital to recognize early treatment and intervention by knowing the anorexia symptoms mentioned below:

Significant Weight Loss

According to age and height, individuals with anorexia nervosa lose substantial, significant weight, and rapid weight loss that is less than the expected range of their height and age.

Intense Fear Of Weight Gain

Even if you are underweight there is an irrational fear of gaining weight which is accompanied by a distorted body image that drives individuals to persist in restrictive eating patterns.

Preoccupation With Food, Dieting, And Body Size

Affecting their interpersonal relationships and daily life body size dominates the individual's mind's constant thoughts about dieting and food.

Excessive Exercise

A common symptom of anorexia nervosa is an intense compulsion to engage in rigorous physical activity, irrespective of weather conditions or physical exhaustion.

Also Read: 7 Types Of Teen Mental Health Disorders: Symptoms, Risk Factors & Treatment 

2. Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms

Purging behaviours and binge eating are the characteristics of bulimia nervosa and by addressing the disorder and recognising its symptoms and the signs and symptoms:

Binge Eating Episodes

In a short period, recurrent episodes of consuming large quantities of food, are often accompanied by a loss of control during the binge.

Compulsive Behaviours To Avoid Weight Gain

After binge eating episodes laxative use, self-induced vomiting and excessive exercise are common purging behaviours.

Preoccupation With Body Shape And Weight

Further cycles of binge-purge behaviours similar to anorexia nervosa, individuals with bulimia nervosa are intensely concerned about their body shape and weight.

Physical Signs Of Purging

Calloused knuckles from induced vomiting can lead to physical manifestations such as erosion of dental enamel and swollen glands.

3. Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms

Unlike bulimia, binge eating disorder is one of the eating disorder symptoms that involves consuming large amounts of food in a short time, and individuals do not engage in compensatory purging behaviours. Recognising the symptoms is vital for proper diagnosis and support:

Frequent Episodes Of Binge Eating

Individuals regularly engage in episodes of consuming an excessive amount of food in a discrete period, often experiencing a loss of control during these episodes.

Eating When Not Hungry

Using food as a coping mechanism and eating when not physically hungry for emotions such as stress, sadness, or boredom.

Feelings Of Guilt And Shame

Further perpetuating the cycle after binge eating episodes individuals often experience intense feelings of distress, shame and guilt.

Weight Fluctuations

Weight fluctuations are the repercussions of binge eating with people who have excess weight but it is not the same for everyone.

4. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) Symptoms

Recognising the eating disorder symptoms can help in understanding and addressing this unique eating disorder as avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder is characterised by a limited range of food intake, often not related to concerns about weight or body image:

Limited Food Preferences

Often excluding entire food groups. Individuals with avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder may have an extremely restricted range of food which are acceptable foods.

Texture Or Sensory Issues

The avoidance of various foods and discomfort with certain food textures or sensory issues, such as aversion to specific smells or tastes, can contribute.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Individuals with ARFID may experience nutritional deficiencies due to restricted food intake, impacting their overall health and well-being.

Impaired Social Functioning

Individuals with this disorder may struggle to find suitable options as ARFID can lead to impaired social functioning, as social events often involve food.

Also Read: What Is Overnutrition? Know Its Impact On Your Health

Neurobiological Aspects Of Food Addiction In Eating Disorders

Neuro-imaging and pharmacological studies depict that individuals who experience food addiction show identical patterns of brain activity and similar alterations in dopamine release from different regions of the central nervous system. Here are the 2 major aspects of food addiction that you must read:

  • Reward Pathway Activation

Highly palatable foods are often implicated in food addiction, creating a reinforcing loop that contributes to compulsive consumption also which can trigger dopamine release, so both food addiction and eating disorders are associated with alterations in the brain's reward pathway.

  • Neurotransmitter Imbalances

Imbalances in neurotransmitters can contribute to the development and maintenance of these complex conditions. Such as serotonin and dopamine, play a role in both addictive behaviours and eating disorders. 

Treatment Approaches For Eating Disorders

Here are the possible treatment approaches for preventing or curing eating disorder symptoms, take a look into it to know what are the ways to treat different eating disorders:

1. Integrated Treatment Plans

Integrated approaches that address both the addictive behaviours and the underlying psychological factors of the coexistence of food addiction and eating disorders are crucial for developing effective treatment plans for eating disorders are often recommended so recognising them is essential.

2. Nutritional Counselling

Educating individuals about balanced and mindful eating as nutritional counselling plays a vital role in addressing food addiction within the context of eating disorders and can help establish healthier relationships with food.

3. Therapeutic Interventions

Group therapy and support networks can also provide valuable insights and encouragement but Psychotherapy, like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is beneficial in addressing both addictive behaviours and the core issues contributing to the eating disorder.

Also Read: 6 Trending Recreational Therapy Activities With Health Benefits! 

The Final Say

Whether it is anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or ARFID, recognizing the signs allows for timely assistance and understanding eating disorder symptoms is crucial for early intervention, support, and treatment. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder, seeking professional help is essential. 

Remember, recovery is possible, and a supportive network helps make a significant difference in your eating pattern and form a healthier relationship with food and oneself by reducing the long-term impact on your physical and mental well-being.


1. Why are eating disorders hard to treat?

Negative effects can trigger the person to eat more and more episodes of binge eating so it becomes difficult to treat eating disorders.

2. What eating disorders do to your body?

Eating disorders can cause malnutrition, low body weight, low blood pressure, and many other health issues.

3. Why are eating disorders on the rise?

Eating disorders are rising due to the mentality of looking slimmer and also to follow the social media trends to look ‘zero size’ or body shaming can give rise to such eating disorders.

4. Are eating disorders mental illnesses?

Yes, eating disorders are complex and serious mental illnesses.

5. Can eating disorders be cured?

Yes, eating disorders can be cured but it needs proper consultation and consistency to work on oneself.


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