Types of Eating Disorders and How Counselors Can Help

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Types of eating disorders

Do you believe you have an eating disorder if you miss meals every day? Or, do you think that by creating the ideal meal plan, you will be able to control your disorder? Well, it’s not that simple. 

Even though the phrase eating disorder is in the name, eating disorders deal with more than just food.

Such disorders are complicated mental health issues that typically require psychiatric or medical help.

Eating disorders can leave long-term health consequences, but a comprehensive treatment can help overcome many types of eating disorders.

Keep on reading to learn about the common symptoms revolving around the types of eating disorders and their effects on health, as well as how to deal with them.

What Are Eating Disorders? 

Eating disorders are a set of mental conditions that cause people to acquire poor eating habits. They may begin with body weight, food, or shape preoccupation. 

Eating disorders affect relationships, and interfere with a person’s capacity to function socially, as well as psychologically. Such disorders carry a great potential to be very harmful to one’s physical health.

Eating disorders can be manifested in many different ways. The majority, however, entail extreme dietary restrictions, binges, as well as purging behaviors such as excessive exercise or vomiting.

Although eating disorders can affect all people, they are most typically reported among young women and teenagers.

Different Types of Eating Disorders and their Effects on Health 

We may encounter  different  types of eating disorders, but the following are the three most common:

  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Anorexia Nervosa

1. Anorexia Nervosa

This is the most well-known and pretty serious eating disorder. 

People with anorexia believe they are obese or overweight, even though they are dangerously underweight. They tend to keep a close eye on their calorie intake and weight. These people are also finding it difficult to eat in public.

Anorexia can be extremely harmful to the body, and in severe situations, it can lead to organ failure, as well as death.

Some of the most common anorexia nervose symptoms include:

  • Fear of gaining weight
  • A distorted image of one’s body 
  • Highly restricted eating patterns
  • Denial of being underweight

2. Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia patients commonly consume a lot of food in a relatively short period. Each eating episode usually lasts until the person is extremely full. During a binge, the person cannot stop eating or regulate how much they consume. Despite their average body weight, many are afraid of gaining weight.

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of bulimia: 

  • Lack of control over food
  • Binge eating
  • Purging behaviors to avoid weight gain
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety from putting on weight 

3. Binge eating disorder 

One of the most frequent eating disorders, especially in the U.S., is binge eating disorder. 

It usually starts in youth, but it can occur at any time. People with this disorder consume massive amounts of food on a regular and uncontrollable basis.

They do not purge, unlike those who suffer from bulimia. People who experience binge eating disorders are typically obese or overweight. 

Some of the most common symptoms associated with binge eating disorder involve:  

  • Consuming unreasonable amounts of food despite not being hungry
  • A decline in the sex drive 
  • Lacking control during eating
  • Feeling ashamed when thinking about the eating behavior

What Causes Eating Disorders? 

Eating disorders are thought to have originated from a wide variety of aspects. Genetics, brain anatomy and cultural beliefs are among these factors.

People who have members of their families with these types of disorders are more prone to developing one themselves.

Eating disorders, like many other disorders, can be influenced by genetics. Life events that induce stress or require significant adjustments can also set off eating disorders.

How Can Counseling Assist You in Overcoming Your Disorders?

It’s crucial to keep in mind that eating disorders could result in life-threatening medical complications, so don’t be afraid to speak out if you are concerned.

Eating disorder counseling plays a critical role in assisting people in overcoming various eating disorders. 

Counselors can offer support and direction, as well as identify triggers, cope with unpleasant emotions, and reduce symptoms. Working with a counselor can significantly improve a person’s quality of life. 

Counselors use a variety of approaches to help people with eating disorders. They employ effective treatment strategies that detect and address the issues that lead to an individual’s eating disorder. 

By developing attainable goals, counselors can help their patients to focus on what they need to do in order to recover.


Eating disorders are serious illnesses that require medical attention, and can oftentimes affect your relationships, the people around you, and most importantly, they affect you. There are different types of eating disorders, and spotting the symptoms early can really make a difference.

If you are on the verge of experiencing some of the disorders we’ve covered, do not hesitate to schedule a counseling appointment for your health or the health of your loved ones.

Eating Disorder FAQs

Eating disorders are prevalent psychological conditions that include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. These disorders impact approximately 0.5% of women during their lifetime for anorexia nervosa and about 2-3% for bulimia nervosa. The typical age of onset falls between 12 to 25 years old. Although these disorders are more frequently observed in females, approximately 10% of cases are identified in males. Additionally, other eating disorders like binge eating disorder and OSFED are more common, and the prevalence rates for Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) are still being determined since this diagnosis is relatively recent.

Eating disorders are often associated with specific personality traits, particularly in individuals with the restricting subtype of anorexia nervosa. These individuals commonly exhibit characteristics such as perfectionism, a strong desire to please others, sensitivity to criticism, and self-doubt. They may struggle with adapting to changes and prefer to stick to routines. On the other hand, a smaller subset of individuals with eating disorders may display more extroverted tendencies, being inclined towards novelty-seeking, impulsivity, and facing challenges in maintaining stable relationships. It’s important to note that there isn’t a single personality type exclusively linked to eating disorders; rather, a range of traits can be observed within this context.

Yes, recovery from an eating disorder is possible with appropriate treatment, support, and dedication. Seeking professional help from therapists, dietitians, and medical professionals can play a crucial role. Recovery involves addressing the underlying psychological factors, developing healthier eating habits, and cultivating a positive relationship with one’s body. It’s a challenging journey, but many individuals have successfully overcome eating disorders and achieved lasting recovery.

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