Eating Disorders

Eating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life threatening consequences for females and males.

Anorexia Nervosa

Characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.


  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above normal weight for height, body type, age, and activity level.
  • Intense fear of weight gain or being “fat”
  • Feeling “fat” or overweight despite dramatic weight loss
  • Loss of menstrual periods
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape

Bulimia Nervosa

Characterized by a secretive cycle of binge eating followed by purging. Bulimia includes eating large amounts of food – more than most people would eat in one meal in short periods of time, then getting rid of the food and calories through vomiting, laxative abuse, or over exercising.


  • Repeated episodes of bingeing and purging
  • Feeling out of control during a binge and eating beyond the point of comfortable fullness
  • Purging after a binge, (typically by self induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives, diet pills, and/or diuretics, excessive exercise, or fasting)
  • Frequent dieting
  • Extreme concern with body weight and shape

Binge Eating Disorder

Also known as compulsive overeating, binge eating characterized by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge. People who overeat compulsively may struggle with anxiety, depression, and loneliness, which can contribute to their unhealthy episodes of binge eating. Body weight may vary from normal to mild, moderate, or severe obesity.

Other Eating Disorders

These can include some combination of the signs and symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, and/or binge eating disorder. While these behaviors may not be clinically considered a fully syndrome eating disorder, they can still be physically dangerous and emotionally draining. All eating disorders require professional help.

Information adapted from the National Eating Disorder Association. Permission is granted to copy and reprint materials for educational purposes only. Referral Helpline: 800.931.2237