(301) 474-2499 CONTACT US

Your Go-to Resource for all Things Eating Disorders

As Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians, we wanted to provide you with a go-to resource for the 3 common eating disorders we work with in our office every single day to help clients and families on the road to recovery.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is characterized by failure to maintain an adequate body weight, body image disturbance, and excessive dietary restriction. There is also the purging type or use of other self-destructive methods to keep weight off. Anorexia nervosa involves self-starvation. The body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally.  So, it is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy.

Signs & Symptoms Anorexia Nervosa

  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Low self-esteem related to body image
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restriction against whole categories of foods
  • Denial of hunger
  • Development of food rituals (eating food in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate)

Health Consequences of Anorexia Nervosa

  • Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure
  • Reduction of bone density
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Severe dehydration
  • Hair loss and dry skin
  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Lack of or irregular menses


Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by binge eating (consuming large amounts of food while feeling out of control) accompanied by compensatory behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting to prevent weight gain, and body image disturbances.

Signs & Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa

  • A feeling of being out of control during binge-eating episodes
  • Poor self-esteem related to body image
  • There may be no change in weight so harder to recognize
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals or packages of wrappers and diuretics
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen
  • Swelling of the cheeks or jaw area
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth

Health Consequences of Bulimia Nervosa

  • Electrolyte imbalance that can lead to irregular heartbeats
  • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus
  • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acid released during vomiting
  • Chronic irregular bowel movements


Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating without use of compensatory measures to counter the binging. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It is often associated with intense shame and guilt. A “binge” can vary in the amount of food consumed and duration spent consuming it, typically it feels out of control.

Signs & Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

  • A feeling of being out of control during binge eating episodes
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating
  • Eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort or eating because of shame about the behavior

Empowered Eating Staff

Health Consequences of Binge Eating Disorder

*Important to remember that BED does not equal obesity and often weight loss prescribed as a treatment can damage recovery.
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • PCOS
  • Depression
  • Anxiety


The important thing to remember about all eating disorders is that they are not a choice. They are serious-life threatening illnesses that require appropriate and consistent treatment. Here are some more resources for more information.

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)

Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA)

Eating Disorder Network of Maryland (EDN)

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders

Association for Size Diversity and Health

Our dietitians are here to help you. Please contact us today for more information about our nutrition programs.

Note: This blog has been edited and re-posted from June 29, 2015.