Do I Have an Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating?

Written by: Arooj Paulus B. Sc – (Applied Psychology)
Last updated date : March 06, 2023

The latest food trends, popular diets, and mobile apps are all around us all the time. Some people track every step they take and the calories they consume. As to look attractive, there is social pressure to have certain body weight and shape. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the daily diet requires 2,000 calories, with enough amounts of vitamins, minerals, and proteins and low intakes of fat and carbs. People usually eat 3 meals a day to fulfill this requirement. However, if a person eats out of boredom or does not eat at all then it becomes a problem. So people increase or reduce their diet according to it. Do you know why you are eating too much or too little food? Let us find out if you have an eating disorder or disordered eating. They both are two different things.

“Very interesting and relevant” John

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Chapter 1:

What Is a Disordered Eating?

Poor eating habits come under disordered eating. However, they are not diagnosed as a proper eating disorder until they meet its full criteria. Disordered eating is a descriptive term, however, eating disorder is a clinical term. For instance, poor eating habits may exist, but a diagnosis can only be made by a specialist who compares the signs to the diagnostic manual.

If you have bad eating habits, you could engage in special eating patterns, diet routines, body weight changes, or social withdrawal.

Following are some examples of disordered eating.

  • If your diet often includes worrying about certain foods or you miss meals.
  • If you have sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Some people have strict eating and exercise habits with set times.
  • If you feel guilty or sad after eating.
  • Preoccupying with food thoughts can be a common experience.
  • If you feel out of control when it comes to food.
  • You may be engaging in compensatory actions to balance your overeating such as exercise or vomiting.

Chapter 2:

What Is an Eating Disorder?

People who fight with an eating problem will have obsessive thoughts about food. They spend most of their time on food avoidance, flavor, and calories or looking for the best place to buy food. Also, they will spend countless hours in food prep, calorie tracking, exercise, bingeing and vomiting to the point that it interferes with their daily lives. However, an eating disorder is a mental condition in which the person has an abnormal concern with food, exercise, and body weight or form. It is diagnosed when it is causing a problem in a person’s social and work life as well. People who have an eating problem are 5 times more likely to die early and 18 times more likely to kill themselves which makes it a serious mental health risk. However, you can get better with the help of proper treatment.

There are several eating disorders such as binge eating or anorexia are the most common types of it. Each eating disorder has different signs and causes. Let us have a look at several eating disorders mentioned below.

Chapter 3:

Do You Have an Eating Disorder?

As we discussed disordered eating, you can identify if you have an eating disorder by looking at its types. The following can be its causes.
    • Genes in some people may put them at a higher risk of having eating problems.
    • It may be influenced by changes in brain chemicals.
    • Relationship problems or other emotional or mental issues can cause them.
    • Life changes can also cause them such as a disease.

Binge Eating Disorder
It is a severe eating disorder in which you keep on eating a large quantity of food to satisfy yourself and can’t stop it. After you eat a lot of food, guilt usually follows. You cannot stop yourself from overeating. Following are the signs of binge eating disorder according to the DSM-5 criteria.
  • If you have instances of binge eating that occur often. Such as eating more food in 2 hours times, and you frequently have these binge-eating episodes. While you are unable to control your urge to eat.
  • The bouts of binge eating are linked to 3 (or more) signs such as
    • If you eat more than hunger
    • If you eat fast in less time
    • You feel guilt or shame after eating
    • You eat even when not hungry
    • Or eating alone to avoid social awkwardness
  • There is noticeable stress due to binge eating.
  • If the episodes occur every week for 3 months.
  • The episodes are not due to others eating conditions such as anorexia or purging in bulimia. (If this is the case then a comorbid diagnosis will be made).


It is a condition in which a person reduces their intake of food. They could try to eat in very limited amounts, or avoid some items while they eat only a few others.

Following are the signs of this eating disorder.

  • They have low body weight with their age, gender, and body health due to restricted food intake compared to their body needs.
  • They have a severe fear of putting on weight or getting fat while being underweight.
  • It can involve
    • Confusion in how one feels about their body weight or form
    • The unwanted effect of body image on self-perception
    • Or a denial of the gravity of their current low weight
  • It can be a restricted type (only eating certain foods e.g. boiled vegetables so that you do not gain weight). Or it can be with binge eating episodes and then purging later on.


In this type, a person binge eats followed by poor compensatory actions meant to avoid weight gain such as vomiting after overeating.

Following are the signs of this eating disorder.
  • If they often have an episode of binge eating.
  • If they have recurrent and poor compensatory practices, such as
    • Self-induced vomiting
    • Using pills or other drugs
    • If you starve yourself
    • Or excessive exercise to avoid weight gain
  • It continues once a week for 3 months.
  • They frequently keep a check on their body weight and shape.
  • If the problem does not just happen during anorexia episodes.

Chapter 4:

Call to Action

Poor eating habits can be dangerous. So, if you see any signs of an eating disorder in someone you know then talk to them about it and seek help.

You can read “Rigid Eating and Inflexible Food Rules and How to Manage It” at Epsychonline to learn more about disordered eating and eating disorders and how to t deal with them.

You can further join a course named “Binge Eating Disorder” at Epsychonline so that you can manage your harmful eating habits. We hope to be a help to you. Sign up now!

"Very interesting and relevant" John

72 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount