Eating Disorder Guides & Articles

Leigh Morgan
Last updated:
Brindusa Vanta, MD, DHMHS
Medical Editor

What Is an Eating Disorder?

An eating disorder is a serious condition that causes someone to develop abnormal eating behaviors or become preoccupied with their weight and body shape. 1 People with eating disorders also have distressing emotions related to food, weight, exercise, and appearance. 2 These conditions can affect anyone, but they're most common in women between the ages of 12 and 35. The National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders estimates that nearly 30 million Americans will develop an eating disorder at some point in their lives. 3

Conditions such as anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, and food addiction affect the entire family, especially when the person with the disorder is an adolescent. 4 People with these disorders often develop rigid rules about what they eat or how much food they consume each day. This can lead to conflict with parents, siblings, spouses, and other family members. An individual with an eating disorder may also isolate themselves from loved ones to make it easier to hide their behavior, causing feelings of loneliness and shame. Family members may struggle to pay treatment-related expenses or worry that the disorder will result in death or severe impairment at some point.

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Insurance Coverage for Eating Disorders – Anorexia & Bulimia
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AETNA Anorexia Bulimia Coverage AmeriHealth Anorexia Bulimia Coverage APS Healthcare Anorexia Bulimia Coverage Assurant Anorexia Coverage Blue Cross and Blue Shield Anorexia Bulimia Coverage Cigna Anorexia Bulimia Coverage Cobra Anorexia Bulimia Coverage Community Health Anorexia Bulimia Coverage CompPsych Anorexia Bulimia Coverage Cook Children’s Health Anorexia Bulimia Coverage Emblem Health Anorexia Bulimia Coverage Exclusive Care Anorexia […]

Am I Ugly
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Weightloss Fakers
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Eating Disorder Symptoms, Causes and Effects
in Eating

Eating disorders are among the most dangerous and difficult to treat of the addiction issues people face. It is easy to see why; food is inescapable. It’s pretty obvious that a $200-a-day heroin habit is problematic, but everybody needs to eat food every day. While nobody needs cocaine, even the most strenuous binge eater will […]

Using Aetna for Eating Disorder Treatment
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With over 22 million members, Aetna is one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States. It offers many different health insurance plans, primarily through employers. If you are considering getting treatment for an eating disorder, the following guide will help you navigate the complexities of using Aetna for eating disorder treatment. There […]

Eating Disorder Treatment Program Options
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Someone suffering from an eating disorder has an unhealthy relationship with food that is interfering with many areas of everyday life. A person may eat little to no food, eat excessively large amounts of food, be obsessed with thoughts of food or exercise, and have a distorted body image. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of […]

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Eating Disorder Coverage
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Blue Cross Blue Shield is by far the most recognizable name in health insurance, serving millions of patients around the country. Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association insurance is accepted by 92 percent of doctors and specialists, making it easy to get affordable care wherever you live in the United States. Nearly all major health […]

How to Find Help Treating an Eating Disorder
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An eating disorder is characterized by an extreme disruption in regular eating habits, whether it is eating too little or eating too much. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a person may start out eating less or more than usual, and then the habit spirals out of control. Someone with an eating disorder […]

Getting Help With Anorexia
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Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to as anorexia, is a serious eating disorder in which a person has a distorted body image and does not maintain a healthy weight. It can have life-threatening consequences if not treated appropriately. Help for anorexia is available. However, people who have a family member or friend with anorexia may not […]

Anorexia Treatment Programs
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Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by a low body mass index (BMI), a fear of gaining weight, severe self-induced weight loss, and an abnormal perception of body weight and shape. Anorexia is most common among teenage girls, affecting up to 0.7% of this age group. But it also appears in men and adults.1,2 This […]

in Eating

Anorexia nervosa (commonly referred to as anorexia) is a serious mental health condition that can drastically impair a person’s physical health. When a person severely restricts food intake and limits or eliminates vital nutrients, their body’s systems can begin to slow down, leading to several potential short- and long-term effects – many of which can […]

Getting Help for Binge Eating Disorder
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Binge eating disorder (BED) affects many men and women across the globe. According to research, 3.5% of women and 2% of men will develop the condition at some point in their lives.1 BED can lead to serious complications, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.3 But it is a treatable condition, and many people recover. Early […]

Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
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Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious eating disorder characterized by frequently consuming large amounts of food and feeling unable to stop. BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting between 1-5% of the general population.2 Those struggling with BED should seek treatment as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment […]

Binge Eating Disorder
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Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States.6 The key symptoms are consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time and feeling out of control during a binge. Many people do not seek treatment because they fear others will judge them for being unable to control their […]

Where to Get Help for Bulimia
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Many people spend their whole lives struggling with body image issues. They feel bad about themselves and constantly go on and off diets. Other people develop dangerous eating disorders such as bulimia. Bulimia is treatable. Many people who suffer from bulimia go on to live healthy lives with normal attitudes about food and body weight. […]

Bulimia Treatment
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Bulimia nervosa, more commonly referred to as bulimia, is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder. Professional treatment is often necessary to overcome the disorder and some insurance covers bulimia treatment. Those with bulimia may receive a combination of therapeutic approaches, such as psychotherapy (individual or group counseling), family therapy, nutrition counseling, and medication. Any […]

in Eating

Bulimia nervosa, more commonly known as bulimia, is an eating disorder that can damage a person’s health and relationships. A key behavioral feature of bulimia is what’s known as the binge-purge cycle. Bulimia can have serious short- and long-term effects. If you suspect you or someone you know may have bulimia, speak to your healthcare […]

Getting Help for Food Addiction
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Food addiction is a notoriously under-reported problem. People often struggle for years without receiving the treatment they need. Many people try numerous diets and exercise programs before they realize that they have a serious problem. Researchers believe that merely treating the symptoms of food addiction, such as obesity, provides little long-term benefit because it doesn’t […]

Food Addiction Treatment Programs
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Food addiction is a serious medical condition. Similar to drug addiction, the symptoms of food addiction can include difficulty controlling behavior, cravings, tolerance, dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and relapse. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from food addiction may hesitate to get help because the condition is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. […]

Food Addiction
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In recent years, the scientific community has begun to more closely study compulsive behaviors such as gambling, sex, video games, and eating. Research suggests something more complex may be at play in some people than simply overeating. Foods full of fat and sugar can supercharge the brain’s reward system similarly to the way addictive drugs […]

Male Body Image and the Average Athlete
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Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Professional athletes have come to represent the pinnacle of physical ability, serving as a cultural image of performance and physique. With millions watching sporting events, these body ideals have been planted firmly in the mainstream’s consciousness. But what happens when these examples inspire behavior that goes beyond what’s healthy […]

The Evolution of Miss America
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Share on Twitter Share on Facebook “There she is, Miss America. There she is, your ideal,” are the first words of the original Miss America Theme Song written in 1954. And although the song is no longer part of the pageant, one thing still stands true; Miss America is seen as a representative of the […]

Body Image Perceptions – Visualizing #fitspo and #thinspo on Instagram
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Share on Twitter Share on Facebook As the Internet became a worldwide phenomenon and a household essential, another more disturbing trend began to take hold: the rise of online communities encouraging and glorifying eating disorders. Under names such as “pro-ana” and “pro-ED,” these sites offer weight loss tips as well as images of ultra-thin or […]

Body Image International
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Body image in America is constantly a hot button issue. From movies to magazines, people in the US are constantly bombarded with messages about how they should look. But how does this compare to people outside US borders? To find out, we surveyed 500 people from the United States and 500 people outside the US […]

What Is Anorexia?

Anorexia is a condition that causes people to obsess over food and body size. The disorder is often accompanied by poor body image, causing an individual to feel overweight, even if their body weight is low. 5. Researchers don't know exactly what causes anorexia, but certain factors increase the risk of developing it. For example, many people with the disorder have family members with mental health conditions. Anorexia may also develop in someone who used to be overweight and doesn't want the extra weight to come back.

The following factors also play a role in the development of anorexia and other eating disorders:

  • Family/social influences
  • Genetic variations
  • Developmental problems
  • Chemical imbalances in the brain

Although anyone can develop anorexia, people who participate in certain activities have a higher risk of developing it. These activities emphasize the importance of maintaining a certain weight or body shape, which causes some people to become obsessed with food:

  • Weight lifting
  • Ballet
  • Gymnastics
  • Modeling
  • Wrestling
  • Cheerleading

Anorexia treatment programs will vary per individual. Anorexia can lead to serious health problems, including abnormal heart rhythms, iron deficiency, kidney disease, electrolyte imbalances, and bone loss. In severe cases, it can also lead to death. If you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms of anorexia, get help finding treatment for anorexia today.

What Is Anorexia Nervosa?

Anorexia nervosa is a type of eating disorder that causes an individual to severely restrict their food intake. A person with this type of anorexia typically has an extreme fear of gaining weight, becomes fixated on counting calories, engages in excessive physical activity, or denies their hunger. As it progresses, anorexia nervosa may also cause dehydration, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, brittle nails, and thinning hair. In some people, extreme weight loss makes it difficult to tolerate cold temperatures or causes fine body hair to grow. This fine hair is known as lanugo. Over time, someone with this disorder may withdraw from social situations, experience mood changes, or become more irritable.

Anorexia nervosa has two subtypes: restricting subtype and binge-eating/purging subtype.

What Is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa is another type of eating disorder, but instead of restricting their food intake, someone with this disorder binges and then purges to try to get rid of the calories they consumed. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, people with bulimia nervosa engage in binge eating, which involves eating a large amount of food during a specific amount of time. <sup6 This amount of food is more than other people would eat in the same amount of time and in the same setting. Purging behavior may include vomiting, taking diuretics, or taking laxatives. A diuretic increases the amount of water excreted from the body, while a laxative causes someone to have a bowel movement. 7 8

There are also two types of bulimia, per DSM 5: purging bulimia and non-purging bulimia. A person who has non-purging bulimia may fast or engage in excessive exercise to prevent weight gain after a binge. If you or someone you love is showing symptoms, bulimia treatment is imperative.  Get help for bulimia today.

What Is Binge-Eating Disorder?

Binge-eating disorder causes someone to consume large quantities of food and feel as if they have no control over their eating. 9 Eating a large meal once in a while doesn't mean someone has an eating disorder. For example, eating extra pie on Thanksgiving generally isn't cause for concern. It's when someone overeats regularly that there may be a problem. People with this disorder may keep eating even after they feel full, eat rapidly, feel disgusted about their eating habits, or dine alone to avoid allowing family members and friends to see how much they're eating. If you are suffering, get help for binge eating disorder today. While binge eating treatment types vary per individual, the first step is getting professional help/

What Is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is when someone eats as a way of coping with difficult emotions. 10 It isn't quite the same as binge eating, as it doesn't involve eating excessive amounts of food within a certain time period. For people with this disorder, food makes it easier to manage sadness, anger, and other unpleasant emotions. Some people engage in emotional eating because they've been dieting and feel deprived. Men and women may also use food as a coping tool when they don't feel good about their bodies.

Do I Have an Eating Disorder?

There are many symptoms of eating disorders. Anyone whose preoccupation with food, weight, or body shape affects their well-being should see a healthcare provider to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor may order blood tests to rule out dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other physical problems associated with eating disorders. A visit to a mental health professional is also in order, as this type of condition has a strong psychological component. A psychiatrist, counselor, or other professional can conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if an individual meets the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or another disorder. 11 Find help treating an eating disorder today.

What Is the Best Eating Disorder Treatment?

Eating disorder treatment programs will vary based on the individual. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy, has the most evidence supporting it as a treatment for eating disorders. 12 CBT is based on the idea that people with psychological problems can learn how to cope with their symptoms and improve their daily functioning. 13 It also assumes that many psychological problems, including eating disorders, stem from negative patterns of thinking and behavior. During a CBT session, a trained therapist helps the individual identify those negative patterns and learn how to correct them. In many cases, CBT also includes role-playing to help the individual improve their problem-solving skills.