5 Lesser-Known Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders are mental and physical illnesses that disrupt the way that people consume food due to related thoughts and emotions. Typically, eating disorders involve a preoccupation with food, body weight, body image, or a combination of the three. Research suggests that about 20 million women and 10 million men will experience a form of disordered eating at some point in their lifetime, with binge eating disorder and anorexia being amongst the most common.

While there are some more well-known eating disorders, there are many diseases and disorders that surround food, eating, and weight. Here are a few you may not know about.

1. Muscle Dysmorphic Disorder

According to the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, muscle dysmorphic disorder (MDD) is a form of body dysmorphic disorder characterized by an obsession with not feeling muscular or lean enough. This is common amongst male athletes, more specifically wrestlers and bodybuilders.

Signs and symptoms that may suggest the presence of MDD include, but are not limited to:

  • Spending excessive time in the gym or lifting weights

  • Continuing to train while injured

  • Panicking when unable to workout

  • Excessive use of supplements and protein

  • Constantly checking their physique in the mirror

  • Prioritizing their workout schedule over everything else

  • Mood swings

  • Steroid abuse

  • Hiding their body under baggy clothing

Oftentimes, this disorder goes undiagnosed amongst athletes because it is believed that this is a normal feeling. It is important to acknowledge the difference between wanting to improve your physique and suffering from MDD. In those without this form of distorted body-image, there isn’t a significant feeling of distress when it comes to gaining muscle.

2. Pica

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, pica is an eating disorder characterized by the desire to eat non-food items that do not contain any significant nutritional value. It is common for people with pica to eat things like dirt, glue, hair, and other items. Pica is typically found in the following types of peoples:

  • People whose diets are deficient in minerals found in the items they want to consume

  • People with developmental disabilities

  • People with psychiatric disturbances

  • Pregnant women

Pica symptoms are typically a result of eating a non-food item. Warning signs of pics may include but are not limited to:

  • Stomach aches and pains

  • Upset stomach

  • Bloody stools

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

While pica can be harmless in most instances, it can also be dangerous and even life-threatening when certain substances are consumed. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have pica that may be detrimental to yours or their health, it is important that you seek treatment from a behavioral health specialist to discuss your treatment options.

3. Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder characterized by limiting the amount or type of food that is consumed. Although this form of disordered eating is similar to anorexia, ARFID does not involve the same distress and obsession with weight and fear of gaining weight.

Signs and symptoms of ARFID include:

  • Weight loss

  • Limited range of preferred foods

  • Decreased amounts of preferred foods over time

  • Fear of choking or vomiting

  • Lack of body image issues

  • Signs of pica or craving non-food items

4. Rumination Disorder

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, rumination disorder involves the routine purging of food. Unlike bulimia nervosa, this condition does not involve episodes of compulsive binge eating, followed by purging. With this form of disordered eating, the affected person will regurgitate their food, re-chew, and swallow it or spit it out. When this happens, the affected person does not seem to be bothered by the occurrence.

Common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting that isn’t caused by a medical condition

  • Stomach aches and pain

  • Indigestion

  • Nausea

  • Bad breath

  • Tooth decay

  • Dry or irritated lips

It is important to note that signs and symptoms are similar in adults and children. However, adults are more likely to spit out the regurgitated food.

5. Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED)

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), unspecified feeding or eating disorder (UFED) is a diagnosis given to those suffering from some form of disordered eating that causes significant distress but does not meet the full criteria for more specific diagnoses. When this classification is used, it means that the clinician has chosen not to give the reason that the full criteria has not been met for a specific diagnosis, and declares that there is insufficient information to provide such a diagnosis.

What to Do if You Suspect an Eating Disorder

If you believe that you or a loved one are currently struggling with an eating disorder, it is essential that you speak with a behavioral health specialist for a proper diagnosis.At Tapestry, your therapist will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan specific to your needs to help you on your journey to recovery. Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but is often the first step toward wellness.

Eating Disorder Treatment in North Carolina

At Tapestry, our treatment programs are dedicated to understanding our clients as whole people with varied life experiences. Whether you have questions about mental health or how to support a loved one struggling with their mental health, we are here for you. Contact us today by filling out a confidential form or give us a call at (844) 299-1343.

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