11 Types of Lesser-Known Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

Did you know eating disorders have the highest mortality rates? According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders every 62 minutes someone dies as a direct result of it (ANAD, 2020). Therefore, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are common types of eating disorders, but unfortunately there are many lesser-known ones and others that aren’t officially considered a disorder. The following is a list of those:

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder – ARFID (selective eating disorder)

Eating Disorders
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Those with this disorder are known as extremely picky eaters. It emerges during infancy/childhood and can persist into adulthood. The pickiness is so acute that those with it may end up eating only 5 foods or less. They also struggle with a lack of appetite and have difficulties eating foods with specific textures, colors, smells, or shapes. The dangers are under consuming calories and nutrients. People can develop anemia, kidney and liver failure, cardiac problems, bone density loss, and low blood sugar, among other health risks. In severe cases it can be life-threatening.


Pic by: Neslihan Gunaydin

This eating disorder typically starts during childhood and lasts a couple of months, although it can continue into adulthood. It is mostly observed in those with an intellectual disability or with autism spectrum disorder. Those with it eat non-nutritive things, like dirt, paint, glue, clay, talc powder, soap, and ice, etc. People who struggle with this can end up with nutritional deficiencies, constipation, intestinal blockages, and anemia, among other complications. The biggest danger is when people eat toxic substances like paint that contains lead or parasites in soil.

Orthorexia Nervosa

eating disorders
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This eating disorder isn’t an official diagnosis, but it is starting to become noticed. Healthy eating is essential for our mental wellbeing and overall physical health, but those with orthorexia take it too far. This disorder revolves around the obsession of healthy eating. Contrary to anorexia, those with orthorexia barely focus on losing weight. Their fixation is with the quality and purity of their food. This leads to malnutrition, hormonal imbalances, extreme weight loss, and other medical problems. This stems from cutting out food groups like, all sugar, carbs, and meat because these food groups aren’t pure to orthorexics.

Wannarexia (wanna-be ana or anorexic wannabe)

Eating Disorders
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Wannarexia is described by experts as a cultural phenomenon triggered by social media and unrealistic beauty standards. It is mostly observed in female teenagers who wish to be anorexic, but aren’t. This originates from the desire to fit in and be popular. Since this disorder isn’t officially recognized, doctors and psychologists may diagnose this as ‘eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS)’. The biggest difference is that wannarexics feel gratification with their weight loss, while anorexics don’t. This disorder isn’t dangerous like anorexia, but it can lead to developing it.

Bigorexia (muscle dysmorphia or reverse anorexia)

Pic by: Anastase Maragos

This disorder is mostly seen in men who have obsessive-compulsive behavior. Unlike anorexia, bigorexia is a disorder in which people are preoccupied with their body fat. They become obsessed with the size of their muscles and believe they are too small. In other words the bigger the muscle the better. This disorder falls into the category of eating disorders because their obsession to gain muscle affects their food choices and eating patterns, such as having an unbalanced protein diet.


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This eating disorder isn’t recognized officially, but doctors are starting to notice it. In the medical world diabulimia is called ED-DMT1, which refers to eating disorders in those with type 1 diabetes. Diabetic medications can cause weight gain in some people, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. In extreme cases diabetics can decrease, delay, and stop taking their insulin along with induced vomiting, excessive eating, and strict dieting rules. This is dangerous because it can cause blindness, nerve pain, kidney damage, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disease, and in worst cases death.


Pic by: Fallon Michael

Unfortunately, this disorder hasn’t been officialized yet, but it is dangerous and can harm the baby’s and mother’s health. This occurs when women worry about weight gain during pregnancy. Pregorexics become preoccupied with calorie counting and exercising. Some go on a binge eating spree and then induce vomiting. This eating disorder if not controlled can lead to developmental problems for the baby or miscarriages. Sadly, many mothers who struggle with this don’t get help because of the stigma of “how can a mother hurt her child”.

Anorexia Athletica (sports anorexia or hypergymnasia)

Pic by: Maddi Bazzocco

This is a subtype type of anorexia and bulimia, in which people are obsessed with their body image. It is mostly observed in athletes. They rely on exercising to lose weight or to maintain it. Through exercise people can get rid of extra calories. For example, instead of purging after a binge eating episode, they will excessively exercise for long hours. They can become so preoccupied with exercise that they miss out on fun activities with friends and family and their responsibilities are affected as well.

Prader-Willi Syndrome

Pic by: Szabo Viktor

This syndrome is a genetic disorder that comes with cognitive and behavioral problems. One of the complications of this disorder is that people experience a constant sense of hunger. They never feel full, therefore, they become overweight, and in most cases struggle with obesity. Those with this disorder hoard food and even eat food that is frozen or from the garbage. The urge to eat is so strong that children and adults will continue eating until the body automatically vomits it. They also throw tantrums, steal food or money to buy food.

Gourmand Syndrome

Pic by: Louis Hansel

This eating disorder is considered extremely rare, and it is not well understood. It is caused by a head injury, tumor, or stroke in the right hemisphere of the brain. This disorder is considered “begnin” because those with it crave fine dining food. They became preoccupied with high-quality food, the preparation of it, and the presentation. They do not overeat or restrict, they simply insist on eating gourmet food.


Pic by: Louis Hansel

Drunkorexia isn’t an official diagnosis. The name comes from a cultural phenomenon in which people restrict food calories to compensate for the calories in alcoholic drinks. Basically, they restrict food, so they can drink more. In their minds this is a way of preventing weight gain. This is mostly observed in young women with binge eating problems. The danger is drinking alcohol on an empty stomach because it increases the negative effects of alcohol, like, passing out or getting into accidents.

These eating disorders should become an official diagnosis or at least be explained to medical and mental health care providers. The eating problems mentioned above cause anxiety, depression, and problems with daily functionality. Doctors and psychologists should be aware of these disorders to help improve people’s quality of life. What are your thoughts on this topic? Have you heard of these eating disorders before?

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ANAD. (2020). Eating Disorder Statistics. Retrieved from: https://anad.org/education-and-awareness/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

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