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    Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes, Types & Treatment

    Baby Care

    Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes, Types & Treatment

    Updated on 3 November 2023

    Eating disorders are considered serious mental health issues and can create a problem with a person's thoughts about food and eating behaviour. As per health experts, an eating disorder can affect the person’s bones, mouth, heart, digestive system and teeth, causing other health issues.

    What is Eating Disorder?

    People suffering from eating disorders may eat less, or sometimes more than their normal capacity. Most eating disorders involve focusing more on weight, food and body shape. These all lead to serious eating behaviours. Such behaviours can greatly affect the body's ability to obtain the necessary nutrition.

    What are the Symptoms of Eating Disorders?

    It is impossible to tell by a person’s appearance that they have an eating disorder. Anyone can have this condition. Eating disorders can affect how individuals think about food, which doesn't reflect that person's size or weight.

    Some of the most common eating disorder symptoms include:

    • Hair loss
    • Mood swings
    • Dizziness, fainting
    • Unusual hot flashes or sweating
    • Drastic weight loss or weight gain
    • Hiding food
    • Withdrawing from social activities or friends
    • Fixation of exercise and food

    What are the Causes of Eating Disorders?

    Many factors can lead to an eating disorder. Per health experts, it can happen due to multiple factors, pressures, feelings and events. Besides, a combination of social, environmental and genetic factors can also lead to eating disorders. Some other factors that may develop an eating disorder are problems with a relationship, high academic expectations, concern about sexuality, emotional abuse, problems at school and more.

    Different traumatic events that can trigger eating disorders include the death of a family member, abuse, bullying, divorce, etc. People with long-term disabilities or health issues, such as hearing loss, depression, vision impairment or diabetes, can also develop eating disorders.

    Some individuals with an eating disorder may take extreme steps to control their food when they feel like they don't have control over other aspects of their lives. It has been seen that an obsession with food has become a way of coping with traumatic feelings or emotions. So, eating disorders can be avoided by managing emotions.

    Types of Eating Disorders

    Eating disorders are divided into three major categories, and some people may develop multiple types of eating disorders. Symptoms of eating disorders will also vary based on the type of disorder the patients have.

    1. BED

    Binge Eating Disorder is a condition where an individual may experience a loss of control over their eating habit. They may eat more or less. They may think that they have eaten. They may feel guilt or shame after an eating binge. Well, it is more common for individuals with BED to go on diets or fast in response to how they think after a binge.

    2. Anorexia Nervosa

    This condition is very rare. 1 in 100 may develop anorexia nervosa condition. Individuals with this issue can be underweight. They may have a fear of gaining weight. They generally have a poor body image and consider themselves fat. They prefer to follow strict rules about their exercise and diet schedules.

    3. Bulimia Nervosa

    Individuals with bulimia nervosa have frequent eating habits. They may eat a lot and then get rid of them by vomiting or taking diet pills or laxatives. People with this condition generally feel out of control. Around 2 in 20 people suffering from eating disorders have this condition.


    Treatment options for eating disorders will vary based on the type of eating disorder the patient has and their specific requirements. Some common treatment options include:

    1. Nutrition Counselling

    A professional dietitian who specialises in eating disorders can assist the patients in improving their eating habits, and the expert will also offer a healthy meal plan. Besides, they can also provide the patients with tips for meal preparation, planning and grocery shopping.

    2. Medications

    Individuals with eating disorders have other health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Using antidepressants or some other medications can help them. This will help the patients to improve their thoughts about food and themselves.

    3. Psychotherapy

    Sometimes, a mental health issue can cause eating disorders. So, taking the help of a mental health specialist can work. The specialist may suggest a CBT- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

    4. Stepped Care

    Person-centred or stepped-care is a treatment customised to meet the individual's illness, needs and situation. A stepped-care approach understands that patients with eating disorders may need to go through different levels of care.

    When to see a doctor?

    Eating disorders can be very challenging to overcome or manage alone. This can also affect other parts of the patient's life. If any person is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, or if they think that they have eating disorders, then consult a doctor for the right treatments.


    1. Herpertz S, Hagenah U, Vocks S, von Wietersheim J, Cuntz U, Zeeck A. (2011). German Society of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy; German College for Psychosomatic Medicine. The diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders.

    2. Sim LA, McAlpine DE, Grothe KB, Himes SM, Cockerill RG, Clark MM. (2010). Identification and treatment of eating disorders in the primary care setting. Mayo Clin Proc.


    Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes, Types & Treatment in Hindi, Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes, Types & Treatment in Tamil, Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes, Types & Treatment in Telugu, Eating Disorders: Meaning, Causes, Types & Treatment in Bengali

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    Written by

    Parul Sachdeva

    A globetrotter and a blogger by passion, Parul loves writing content. She has done M.Phil. in Journalism and Mass Communication and worked for more than 25 clients across Globe with a 100% job success rate. She has been associated with websites pertaining to parenting, travel, food, health & fitness and has also created SEO rich content for a variety of topics.

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