Uncommon Eating Disorders

The contentious relationship between society and food often manifests itself in the form of an eating disorder. There are numerous kinds of eating disorders which stem from causes as varied as the individuals afflicted with these conditions. Being aware of the signs and symptoms of uncommon eating disorders can aid in early diagnosis and treatment.

Purging disorder – This disorder differs from bulimia in that there is no binge eating. Purging happens after regular sized meals and the person may continue to have a normal body weight.

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Anorexia athletica (compulsive exercising) – This is an addiction to exercise where a person feels compelled to work out, despite illness or injury. The enjoyment has gone out of exercise, but guilt or anxiety may be experienced if a work out is missed.

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Body dysmorphic disorder – A mental illness resulting in an unhealthy obsession with minor or imagined flaws to the point of elective isolation.

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Muscle dysmorphic disorder (bigorexia) –Also called vigorexia or an “Adonis Complex” this is another form of body dysmorphic disorder, which focuses on muscle mass and body size. Most common in males, this disorder results in a fixation on getting larger.

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Infection-triggered, auto immune subtype of anorexia nervosa in young children - While not formally recognized as an eating disorder, this condition presents itself with anorexia-like symptoms in young children. This disorder is usually brought on by a viral or bacterial infection. Typically requiring specialists with knowledge of Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococci (PANDAS ) and Paediatric Infection-triggered Autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders
(PITAND)

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Orthorexia nervosa - An unofficial disorder outlined in 1997, this is a severe fixation with healthy eating, to the point of causing health risks.

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Night-eating syndrome - Repeated nocturnal binging in an effort to fight off stress and insomnia. Nightly binges may also be followed by anorexia in the morning. This disorder may be caused by severe hormonal imbalances.

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Nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder – Associated with sleep walking, this condition is characterized by eating while sound asleep and without conscious intent. Individuals with this disorder have no memory of eating at night, and may find remnants of night binges in the form of wrappers or food.

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Rumination syndrome – A little known disorder which involves persistent and repetitive regurgitation of food which may be spit out or re-swallowed. This process differs from bulimia and heartburn gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in that it is involuntary and typically without abdominal pain. This condition is frequently over looked and often misdiagnosed.

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Gourmand syndrome – Following an injury to the right frontal lobe an individual may develop this condition which is characterized by an obsession with fine foods. This is considered a benign eating disorder.

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Prader-Willi syndrome – A genetic disorder usually diagnosed during infancy which is frequently mistaken for down syndrome. This condition causes short stature, obesity, hypotonia, small feet and hands and mild forms of mental retardation.

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Pica – Most commonly found in autistic children, this condition is characterized by a compulsion to ingest non-food items or large quantities of an odd food item.

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Cyclic vomiting syndrome – Persistent nausea and vomiting which persists for days. Most common in young girls between 3 and 7.

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Chewing and Spitting – An unofficial disorder which involves chewing food and spitting it out in order to enjoy foods without weight gain.

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