Nicole Laby

Eating Disorders

What is an Eating Disorder? How do I know if I have one?
Below are brief definitions of eating disorders. (Click on the link to reveal text.) Further information on these eating disorders is available through numerous online sources. This information will not tell you if you or your loved one has an eating disorder; however, it will help you to understand the criteria that formulate these disorders in concrete terms.

If you feel that you or someone you love has an eating disorder, feel free to contact me or any of the healthcare professionals listed in the Recommended Links page of this website for an evaluation. If you have a healthcare professional in your direct area that you trust, it is advisable to talk to this person about your challenges with eating/restricting/exercise and/or any other related behaviors.


Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is characterized by a fear of weight gain and a resistance to maintaining a body weight that falls within minimally normal range; it is commonly accompanied by a distorted body image. Anorexia is marked by self-induced starvation. Two types of Anorexia have been identified: Restricting Type and Binge-Eating/Purging Type. Anorexia Restricting Type involves weight loss through dieting and/or complete fasting, and excessive exercise. Anorexia Binge-Purge type involves a combination of restricting behaviors and compensatory behaviors. These behaviors, which occur post binges and/or post consumption of any food at all, may include vomiting and/or the use of laxatives, diuretics, and enemas.


Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is characterized by binge eating followed by the elimination of food through unusual means, such as vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, and enemas. Bulimia frequently includes restricting behaviors and compulsive/excessive exercise. People struggling with Bulimia often maintain a normal body weight; however, they frequently report preoccupation with weight and body shape/size, as well as body distortion.

Two types of Bulimia have been identified: Purging and Nonpurging Type. Purging Type includes food elimination post binges as described above, while Nonpurging Type includes fasting and/or excessive exercise.


Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder

According to The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th edition, 2013) this refers to the category of eating disorders that do not meet full diagnostic criteria for the other eating disorders mentioned.


Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by regular and consistent periods of excessive overeating. It does not include inappropriate compensatory behaviors. A binge typically occurs within two hours or less and involves the abnormally large consumption of food.


Compulsive Overeating

This type of eating-disordered behavior can occur in any of the eating disorders described above; however, it may/may not constitute an eating disorder all on its own. There is no specific 'compulsive overeating disorder' diagnosis listed in the DSM V to date, but that does not diminish the serious and destructive nature of this problem.

While this type of eating does not meet the criteria for a binge, it has similar properties. Anxious and/or "mindless" eating can occur throughout the day, or at various times in the day/night. The quantity of food consumed is more than a person needs/truly wants, but doesn't reach binge proportions. Typically, feelings of guilt, shame, and loss of control follow the behavior.

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