Many people if asked could not tell the difference between someone who is on a diet and someone who is suffering from an eating disorder. They are however two very different things though. A diet is used as a means to lower your weight in a healthy manner; a disorder however, is an illness which effects the self esteem of the individual suffering from it in a very dangerous way.
The most well know of all these disorders is Anorexia Nervosa. The name itself means ‘a lack of desire to eat’. People who have Anorexia Nervosa experience obsessive feelings of self loathing. The only time they feel good about themselves is when they are starving. No matter how thin an anorexic becomes, their body dimorphic disorder is so strong they still believe themselves to be fat.
Commonly linked to Anorexia is Bulimia Nervosa. It shares some of Anorexia’s features especially the sufferers’ low self esteem. The difference is food is used by the Bulimic as a comfort and is not avoided at all. Bulimics are able to ingest as much food as they wish and rid themselves of it soon afterwards by taking laxatives or making themselves vomit it up again, this is known as purging.
Another closely linked eating disorder is Compulsive Eating Disorder. In many ways this is very similar to Bulimia and to Anorexia, the factor that sets it aside from both of these is that sufferers do not purge.
Compulsive sufferers consume and keep all the food they eat. Their days can revolve around nothing but food, from reading about it, to cooking to planning the next meal or snack. Some of the world’s heaviest people suffer from this disorder, which is fundamentally an addiction to food.
Next we have Binge Eating Disorder, again very similar to Compulsive Eating Disorder. It differs in the frequency in which food is consumed and in its secretive nature. Binge eaters will meticulously plan their binging and store large quantities of food away to eat all in one sitting when they know they will be alone.
The same issues with self esteem are very apparent in this illness and the shame the binge eater feels at eating beyond their own bodies calorific needs leads of a cycle of yet more comfort eating. Much like the compulsive sufferer the binge eater will not purge but rather keeps the calories. The only reason they are not generally as large as the compulsive disorder sufferers is they binge less frequently.