Eating Disorders

Anyone can develop an eating disorder. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, cultural or racial background is.

An eating disorder is a mental illness. You will use food to try to manage your feelings. If you have an eating disorder you will have an unhealthy relationship with food. This may be eating too much or too little food. Or eating a lot of food in one sitting. You may become obsessed with food and your eating patterns if you have an eating disorder.

General guidance on eating disorders

Types of eating disorders

The most common eating disorders are:

  • anorexia nervosa – trying to control your weight by not eating enough food, exercising too much, or doing both
  • bulimia – losing control over how much you eat and then taking drastic action to not put on weight
  • binge eating disorder (BED) – eating large portions of food until you feel uncomfortably full

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)

A person may have an OSFED if their symptoms do not exactly fit the expected symptoms for any specific eating disorders.

OSFED is the most common eating disorder. You can find out more about OSFED on the Beat website.

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is when someone avoids certain foods, limits how much they eat or does both.

Beliefs about weight or body shape are not reasons why people develop ARFID.

Possible reasons for ARFID include:

  • negative feelings over the smell, taste or texture of certain foods
  • a response to a past experience with food that was upsetting, for example, choking or being sick after eating something
  • not feeling hungry or just a lack of interest in eating