Eating disorders impact millions of individuals and families. With the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, eating disorders continue to be a dangerous and insidious part of our world. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, eating disorders are classified into four major categories: Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders.


Anorexia Nervosa is a disorder in which preoccupation with restricting food intake and thinness leads to excessive weight loss. The individual typically has an intense fear of gaining weight, a distorted body image, and weighs less than the 85% of ideal body weight.

Signs and Symptoms of Anorexia:

  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height
  • Restrictive eating
  • Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight
  • Disturbance in way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced
  • Undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation
  • Denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight
  • Loss of period in women who have reached puberty
  • Exhibits much concern about weight
  • Complaints about “feeling” fat
  • Suffers from depression (including shame, anger and guilt)
  • Attributes social and professional successes/failures to weight gain/loss
  • Denial of hunger
  • Loathing of body, hiding shape, and weight

*Please note, that although the classic diagnosis of anorexia requires the individual to weigh less than 85% of their ideal body weight, further research has shown that people of all body shapes and sizes can experience the symptoms of anorexia and is defined as atypical anorexia.


Bulimia Nervosa involves frequent episodes of binge eating, almost always followed by purging and intense feelings of guilt or shame. The individual feels out of control and may recognize that the behavior is not normal.

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is eating a very large quantity of food in a short period of time. The binge eating episode is often accompanied by a sense of lack of control. I.e. The feeling that one can’t moderate how much or what is consumed.
  • Recurrent purging behavior. I.e. Self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, fasting, or excessive exercise
  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced
  • Undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation
  • Denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight

Signs and Symptoms of Bulimia:

  • Exhibits much concern about weight
  • Complains about “feeling” fat
  • Suffers from depression, including shame, anger, and guilt
  • Perfectionist personality
  • Attributes social and professional successes/ failures to weight gain/loss
  • Denial of hunger
  • Loathing of body I.e. hiding shape and weight

Binge Eating Disorder

Those struggling with Binge Eating Disorder experience uncontrollable eating, sometimes done in secret. The individual has feelings of disgust, depression and guilt about binge eating and eats when not physically hungry. Those who are obese may be struggling with binge eating disorder though body size is not always indicative of an eating disorder. Individuals diagnosed with binge eating disorder may be living in all sized bodies.

Signs and Symptoms of BED:

  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry- bingeing or eating uncontrollably
  • Unable to stop eating voluntarily
  • Eating rapidly
  • Eating until feeling bloated or uncomfortably full
  • Eating alone
  • Hoarding or stealing food
  • Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
  • Intense guilt about eating, including self-disgust
  • Depressed moods, mood fluctuations, impatience, irritability
  • Loathing or hiding of the body under baggy clothes