The phrases disordered eating and eating disorder are often used interchangeably; however, there is a slight distinction between the two. Put simply, an eating disorder meets the criteria in the DSM-V to be diagnosed. Disordered eating shares certain eating disorder behaviors, but in and of itself cannot be diagnosed as an eating disorder.
The main distinction between an eating disorder and disordered eating is that one is characterized as an emotional disorder (eating disorder) and the other is a general term for non-intuitive eating, in which case eating becomes disordered.
Signs and Symptoms of Disordered Eating
Many people are unaware of having disordered eating because they never learned how to properly nourish themselves. Several behaviors associated with an eating disorder can appear with disordered eating such as the use of diet pills, purging, binge eating, or food restriction. The main factor that distinguishes between the two is the degree of severity.
According to a Psychology Today article, disordered eating also includes:
- Self-worth or self-esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
- Distorted body image, such as a person who holds a healthy weight, but continues to believe they are overweight
- Excessive or rigid exercise routine
- Obsessive calorie counting
- Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
- A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods or refusing to eat outside of one’s home
- Disordered eating also includes behaviors that are not characteristic of any eating disorder, such as:
- Irregular, chaotic eating patterns.
- Ignoring physical feelings of hunger and satiety
- Use of diet pills
- Emotional eating
- Night eating
- “Secretive food concocting”: the consumption of embarrassing food combinations, such as gravy and ice cream
Types of Eating Disorders
There most common types of eating disorders classified in the DSM-V are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and eating disorder.
Anorexia nervosa is defined as an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat. Anorexia nervosa is a potentially life-threatening illness that affects approximately 30 million Americans of varied gender and age, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
Bulimia nervosa is defined as an emotional disorder that swings from binging on food to purging. Bulimia is also characterized by shame felt following the binge on food, which leads to depression and a desire to dispel the food from the body through self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting. Like anorexia, bulimia is driven by an obsessive urge to lose weight.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in America and is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food to the point of severe discomfort. Binging is ridden with deep feelings of shame and guilt.
DSM-V identifies the following as criteria for having a binge eating disorder:
- Episodes of binge eating include:
- Eating, within any 2-hour period, an amount of food much larger than normal standards under similar circumstances
- A feeling of being out of control and unable to stop eating
- A binge eating episode is associated with at least 3 of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
- Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward
- Marked distress regarding binge eating
- Binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months
- The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors
The Faces of Eating Disorders
Personality traits, environmental factors, and genetics are all factors that contribute to the likelihood of a person developing an eating disorder. According to ANAD, eating disorders have the “highest mortality rate of any mental illness,” and cause at least one death every 62 minutes.
Other statistics reported by ANAD include:
- 13% of women 50 years and older engage in eating disorder behaviors
- In a large national study of college students, 3.5% sexual minority women and 2.1% of sexual minority men reported having an eating disorder
- 16% of transgender college students reported having an eating disorder
- 1 in 5 anorexia deaths are suicide
Eating disorders and disordered eating often co-occur with other mental health illnesses such as depression and substance abuse. For all disorders, help is available. Choosing to enroll in treatment can be a decision that saves a life. Recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating is a process but can lead a person toward living a happier and healthier life. To learn more about a mens disordered eating treatment center, call First Step Center today at 866.832.6398.