5 Life-Altering Lesser-Known Eating Disorders

Simply put, an eating disorder is any severe and lasting disturbance to the way a person eats. The reasons why one might participate in these behaviors can be complex and difficult to establish, even on a case-by-case basis. The most well known disorders, however, are arguably anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, all of which deliver a variety of serious injuries both to the mind and body.

Still, while there are a handful of reasons why some lesser-known eating disorders, although well-documented by medical experts, might seem unfamiliar to most, they stand as a continuation of examples of how human brains express personal pain or trouble through their owners’ diets.

Pica

Pica prompts the regular consumption of materials that offer no nutritional value — chalk, dirt, paint, sand, paper, clay and even animal feces. Unlike many patients diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia, those with pica can rarely express motivation behind their compulsions. However, the disorder is linked in both children and adults (especially pregnant women) to medical phenomena such as anemia, intestinal blockages, digestion of toxic bacteria and other causes of nutritional imbalance. Some individuals with pica even report being drawn to the mouthfeel and texture apparent when eating particular, otherwise inedible substances.

Night Eating Syndrome

Unlike those with binge-eating disorder, individuals who experience night eating syndrome express their loss of control over food intake less as a symptom of how much they eat and more as a symptom of when it feels safe to eat. At the core of NES are altered hormone levels that unwind one’s circadian rhythm, or the inborn 24-hour “biological clock” indicating when to sleep, when to wake and when to eat. NES sufferers are often pre-diagnosed with depression and/or sleeping dysfunctions and are, in turn, more likely to eat not during the day, but when they cannot sleep, are bored or are emotionally restless.

Rumination Syndrome

Like pica, rumination syndrome is an eating disorder directed by subconscious behaviors, not self-aware decision-making. Individuals with this disorder chew, swallow, and then shortly thereafter, regurgitate their food. This behavior usually takes place every day, at every meal, at which time individuals either re-chew and re-swallow their food or remove the contents of their mouths into their napkins.

Because the disorder is so often displayed in children, concerns remain that the behavior is a sign of deep-seated problems between young people and their primary caretakers; rumination has been reported as a self-soothing behavior or a means of gaining attention, especially when food is spat out in more eye-catching displays.

Diabulimia

Diabulimia typically affects individuals with Type 1 diabetes who cannot produce their own insulin hormones. These individuals purposefully restrict their insulin doses, which affects the presence of blood sugars in the body. This behavior is carried out with the expressed purpose of losing weight, as calories are “purged” through insulin restriction, not unlike other indviduals’ attempts to do the same by over-exercising, intentional vomiting or refusal to eat.

Like many eating disorders, diabulimia is potentially fatal: Those with diabulimia can fall into diabetic ketoacidosis wherein the body produces toxic organic compounds known as “ketones.” In turn, diabulimia increases the chances of other serious diabetic complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and the need for limb amputation.

Orthorexia

Defined as the “fixation on righteous eating,” orthorexia is observed in individuals who have an obsession with consuming only “healthy” foods. While one might consider such aspirations favorable to the body, the operative word in understanding orthorexia is “obsession,” which can lead those with the disorder to become fixated on proportions, nutritional labels and the consequences of “mistakes,” such as eating foods that are not absolutely “pure” and untainted (like organic items). These mistakes can sometimes lead to self-punishment, such as over-exercise, purging or even direct self-harm.

Like anorexia, orthorexia is seen by many with the disorder as a badge of honor for remaining “in control” of one’s impulses — a sign both of physical and even spiritual health — although the effects can eventually not only leave one malnourished, but removed from the company of loved ones who maintain more balanced diets.

82 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Cabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Omarr jo
Omarr joabout a year ago

if you have pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes Or you know someone with this conditions, You need to see THIS VIDEO

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Karen C.
Karen Cabout a year ago

Thanks! It's good to talk about all disorders, and help everyone who suffers or feels alone

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Lawren R.
Lawren Rabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing....so many people suffer with eating and body image and the more we know the better

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Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawnabout a year ago

this needs more publicity

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Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for the article.

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Veronica B.
Veronica Babout a year ago

Great article about eating disorders, thank you for sharing!

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Muff-Anne York-Haley
Muff-Anne York-Haleyabout a year ago

So sad!

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Ana R
ANA MARIJA Rabout a year ago

So far, haven't heard of any :( Thank you for the article.

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Mrs M.
Mrs Mabout a year ago

Scary!!!

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