An eating disorder is something that can happen to anybody. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, up to 24 million people of all ages and gender suffer from an eating disorder.  Medically, an eating disorder is defined as any pattern of abnormal eating which can become detrimental to the body.
1. Anorexia Nervosa: Avoiding Meals
Anorexia is a complex eating disorder which has three key components. A person refuses to maintain a normal body weight, has a distorted image of their body and suffers from an intense fear of gaining weight. Anorexics will often restrict food intake, skip meals, develop inappropriate eating habits and obsess over being thin.
2. Bulimia Nervosa: Purging
Bulimia nervosa is another serious eating disorder and in certain cases, it can become life-threatening. With bulimia, a person will have frequent episodes of binge eating and it is followed by purging through vomiting or taking laxatives in order to prevent weight gain.
3. Binge Eating Disorder: Eating Copious Amounts of Food in One Sitting
According to the Mayo Clinic, a binge eating disorder in one in which a person frequently consumes unusually large amounts of food. Most people will overeat sometimes, but for someone with a binge eating disorder, it happens on a regular basis and it is usually something done privately. People with binge eating disorder often suffer from deep embarrassment and may want to stop, but cannot help themselves when it comes to resisting the compulsion.
4. Anorexia Athletica: Exercise Obsession
The American Council on Exercise, reports that anorexia athletica was first labeled by Dr. William Glaser in 1976.  Those with anorexia athletica are obsessed with calorie counting and may appear to be fanatical about their overall health. People who have this disorder will sometimes restrict caloric intake, observe a strict diet and will exercise to the point of exhaustion, in order to burn off the calories from a meal.
5. Night Eating Syndrome: Eating Large Amounts of Food After Dinner
The Academy of Women’s Health has classified night eating syndrome, as a condition which affects approximately 1.5 -5% of the population in the United States.  With night eating syndrome, a person will consume about a quarter of their calories after dinner. A person will sometimes wake up during the night and feel as if they do not eat, they will not be able to go back to sleep. People with night eating syndrome can sometimes suffer from obesity, depression, insomnia and anxiety.
6. Orthorexia Nervosa: Obsession with Healthy Eating
Orthorexia nervosa is one of the eating disorders people are not generally familiar with. With Orthorexia, a person is obsessed with eating the right foods. People with orthorexia nervosa can go so far as to classify foods as healthy and unhealthy. It is very common for people with the disorder to avoid unhealthy foods and to be fixated on the nutritional value of the foods they eat to the point where taste no longer matters.
7. Pica: Consuming Non-Nutritional Substances
Pica is an eating disorder which is characterized by someone having an appetite for non-nutritional substances. People with pica often have a physical craving for things such as ice, sand, dirt, chalk or clay. There is no definitive test which is used to diagnose pica, but doctors will generally test the blood for lead, iron and zinc levels. A healthcare practitioner should also check for infections and parasites if a person has been consuming dirt or animal waste.
8. Rumination Syndrome: Chewing and Spitting Out Food
Rumination syndrome is a condition in which people repeatedly chew and spit up food from the stomach, chew it once more and swallow it again or spit it out. Rumination is a reflexive action and not a conscious decision. The precise cause of rumination syndrome is unknown, but it can happen in children, adolescents and adults. The side effects of rumination syndrome can cause damage to the esophagus and result in unhealthy weight loss.
9. Drunkorexia: Starving the Body and Alcohol Abuse
Drunkorexia is a slang term which refers to a behavioral pattern of starving oneself throughout the day and then binging on food and alcohol later in the evening. The condition is a combination eating disorder and binge drinking. The reoccurrence of drunkorexia can lead to serious health issues, which are related to both unhealthy eating and drinking patterns.
10. What are eating disorders not otherwise specified or ED-NOS?
There are literally dozens of eating disorders and many are classified as “eating disorders not otherwise specified.” The term is used to describe the eating disorders people have which do not meet the diagnostic criteria set forth in medical guidelines.
These individuals may have a myriad of symptoms which are present with different eating disorders, but could otherwise appear to be healthy. The medical community is researching eating disorders further, to allow for better diagnosis and treatment for people who have these types of unclassified conditions.
What is the long-term prognosis for an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are very serious and should be treated as such. Because an eating disorder is so complex, it is very hard to predict the outcome someone will have. In order to recover from an eating disorder of any kind, it is important to receive medical attention and to follow the treatment plan prescribed by the specialists who are overseeing a person’s care and recovery.