"Around 1.25million people in the UK suffer from eating disorders” (according to beateatingdisorders.org.uk).


Despite this shocking statistic (along with many others), and the increasing awareness of the impact of eating disorders in today’s society, there is still a lack of knowledge about the types of eating disorders that exist, how they can affect people and what they look like.


All eating disorders are as significant as one another - in the media and in general discussions, people tend to mainly speak about anorexia, bulimia nervosa and more recently, binge eating disorder when discussing the manifestations of mental illness in eating patterns. In order to raise awareness about the other forms of eating disorders, we as a society must strive to better educate ourselves about them.


One eating disorder that many people are unaware of is orthorexia. This is when someone has an unhealthy obsession with eating ‘healthy’ foods, to the extent to which it causes them severe distress and guilt to consume any foods that don’t fit into their idea of what a ‘healthy’ food is. Some people may even cut out whole food groups to avoid this emotional distress. This can result in deficiencies, malnutrition, low energy and high anxiety levels.


Another eating disorder that many people don’t know about is rumination disorder. This is where people repeatedly regurgitate food that hasn’t properly been digested (unintentionally) and go on to either spit it out or re-chew and re-swallow it. Rumination disorder has many possible causes, such as stress and physical injury, however there appears to be no absolute cause for it. This condition can lead to malnutrition, dental erosion and many other health complications.


Pica is an eating disorder where a person eats non-food items that hold no nutritional value - these can include chalk, soap and paper. This eating disorder doesn’t mean that the person only eats non-food items, however if it progresses without treatment, it is possible for this to happen. Pica can lead to damaged teeth and the occurrence of various different bodily issues such as lead poisoning and bowel obstruction.


Lastly, another eating disorder that a lot of people don’t know about is ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder). This eating disorder can be when someone either avoids certain foods or when someone limits the amount of food that they eat to the extent to which they’re consuming an insufficient amount of calories. This eating disorder may be difficult to identify as it can often be mistaken for or disguised as “picky eating”. ARFID can result in high levels of general anxiety, deficiencies, mood swings, and it can also impact one’s capability to cope with the demands of everyday life. This eating disorder is most common in people who are on the autistic spectrum and may result in sensitivities to the texture, taste and temperature of food as a whole.


To conclude, eating disorders can come in many different forms, making them complex mental illnesses to identify. Consequently, it is important for healthcare professionals, specialists and teachers to be trained to recognise the signs of these less obvious eating disorders. This will better allow them to diagnose, treat and educate others about these illnesses.

References/Contact Links