I’ve suffered from an eating disorder for almost 20 years, and I’ve seen all the different types of eating disorders that exist while interacting with over 5,000 other eating disorder sufferers.
This is what I’ve learned.
3 Different Types of Eating Disorders
These are my explanations from two decades of suffering, researching, and interacting with thousands of people suffering from eating disorders. These are not what you would call proper definitions, but you can find the proper definitions anywhere.
You see yourself as never skinny enough. Every day, you look in the mirror, and the image is odd. You still see yourself but it feels bigger. It doesn’t feel like you.
So you end up starving yourself.
You can’t eat because one piece of lettuce will put inches on your thigh. You become isolated, because going out or spending time with anyone means food. No one quite gets it, so they eventually give up on trying to help.
In your head, you obsess about food 24/7. What to eat. What not to eat. You count every calorie, from one grape to one cracker.
You never feel full. No matter what, you just keep eating. Why don’t you feel full? You keep filling the black hole inside you. Doesn’t matter what it even tastes like anymore.
You’ve been starving yourself, or not eating quite enough. Then you give in. You eat a cookie. So you say, “Whatever, fuck this, I’m just going to finish the box… and this box. And that box.”
The harm already has been done.
Instead of just eating that one cookie, you’d rather eat everything. Then you sit there, ashamed and guilty.
Bulimia is closely related to anorexia and binge eating You realize this new way of getting rid of food is almost magical. You’re at the point where you need to binge and binge. You can’t stop finding even sugar packets to eat.
Then you make it come out.
When it comes out, there is a small high. You become addicted to it. There are diff ways to make it come out. I will not specify as I am not promoting an eating disorder, but either way gives you a sort of high or feeling of accomplishment.
It sounds absolutely disgusting, and you’re ashamed, but you can’t stop.
You now feel like you’re losing weight. And some are. But you can’t stop binging and purging.
You use all your money to buy every type of food you always wanted to eat. The food has no taste after the first few bites anymore. But doesn’t matter—just gotta get it in and out.
Bulimia becomes a normal part of life. You might have stopped or controlled the binge eating, but if you’ve eaten one bite—something you shouldn’t have—that’s it.
It needs to come out.
On the outside, everything looks normal. No one knows. You hope every restaurant has a private bathroom. It somehow becomes a normal thing that you do—living this life without anyone knowing.
You cover the smell, wash your hands and face, then go back to the table.
But now even the feeling of food inside stresses you out.
It’s not calories anymore.
It’s how you feel.
You eat a giant salad with 150 calories and feel like a pig.
You need to get it out.
But you eat some chocolate to keep going, and that’s fine.
Eating Disorders Are Complicated
All the different types of eating disorders are more common than our society wants to admit.
Food is complicated.
It’s used in celebrations, it’s used as a reward, but there are also those who lack food. Starvation is found all around the world. There are kids out there not getting enough nutrients (protein mainly). They end up with kwashiorkor, where their belly bloats up. Food isn’t just complicated—it’s controversial.
To be honest I would rather run down the street screaming I was a raging heroin addict than even mention I have an eating disorder (I suffer from bulimia).
Speaking of heroin…
Food Is Harder to Put Down Than Drugs
Society is more understanding about a drug addict than a food addict for the simple reason that drugs are avoidable. They’re something we don’t need. So in a sense, it’s almost seen as less shameful than being addicted to something we need to survive.
Let’s exchange food for heroin. Let’s say we need heroin to survive, grow, etc. Some people are able to take enough or be fine. It’s used in celebrations, and sometimes people overdo it a bit, but mostly everyone takes their heroin the way they’re supposed to.
Then there are those that have no control.
They either take too much or avoid taking it because they will binge.
But remember, heroin is needed to live.
Some people don’t understand how you can’t just take a little and be fine. Then there are people dying because they can’t get the heroin they need to survive.
That’s what an eating disorder is like. You need to put something in your body every day that’s so dangerous it can kill you but that you literally can’t put down because you need it to survive.
Now imagine that the taboo associated with heroin applied to eating disorders.
Oh, wait… it actually does apply.
All Different Types of Eating Disorders Are Still Taboo
There are more people suffering than the statistics say. I can bet my life on it. I’ve suffered and am still suffering from almost two decades of an eating disorder. During this time, I’ve interacted with over 5,000 other sufferers. From what I’ve seen, the consequences of eating disorders are just as deadly as heroin addiction.
It’s been less and less of a taboo nowadays, but eating disorders are still hidden very well, especially with men.
Now with women, it’s already something shameful to admit and talk about. We laugh about it, like, “Oh she must be anorexic since she ordered a salad.”
While in our heads we are looking at her and wishing we were as thin.
Or that we had that willpower.
With men, it’s not talked about, or even thought about. Men have to hide it far more, and people are far less understanding when they talk about it.
Unfortunately, no matter your gender, there’s no getting away from food.
Food Will Always Be There
One of the main myths about eating disorders, in my opinion, is that there is no “recovery” for an eating disorder since you can’t recover from something you need. You can stop the food behaviors, so control can return, but you never really recover because you always have to eat.
Food will always be part of your life.
It’s like waving a bottle of beer in front of a recovered alcoholic. There are those who have control of it, and it’s seen as recovery, but I don’t ever believe those people don’t still have thoughts sometimes.
I hope you’ve learned something about the different types of eating disorders, something more than you’d get from just a dictionary definition.
I still struggle with my eating disorder, but I want to help you.
These are just the opinions based on my experience.
I’d love to hear yours.
Let me know in the comments.