The "Unknown" Eating Disorders

Updated: May 4, 2019





Most people are aware of how dangerous eating disorders can be. Personally, I hate it when people judge others on their appearance and assume they must suffer from a type of eating disorder or are lazy... It could all be genetics, really.


I worked at a place where the boss very casually mentioned weight in a discussion in the open style office… Describing how some people had “let themselves go” and how others were “doing so well.” Here is the issue: the people who weren’t doing well (I noticed) were comfort eating. I felt anxiety for not feeling like I fit to that individual's physical standards and made sure not to mention anything about my treats drawer. 


Just because someone wasn’t sickly thin or morbidly obese, doesn’t mean they weren’t struggling with some sort of eating disorder.  However, after this conversation, I saw a sudden shift in the workplace, I suppose trying to fit this “ideal”. I saw so many unhealthy habits, and while my the number of treats I ate rose, so did the number on the scale from anxiety and wanting comfort.


I know we get the common eating disorders, but what about other ones. I made a list, I assure you, you might read about disorders you never thought existed!! I know I did Perhaps even feel a little less alone as well, if that’s the case.


1. Anorexia Nervosa: Characterised by self-starvation, excessive weight loss and an extreme fear of weight gain.

2. Bulimia Nervosa: Repeated episodes of bingeing and purging. There can also be abuse of substances like laxatives.

3. Binge Eating Disorder: Characterised primarily by periods uncontrolled, compulsive and continuous eating. Often to a point of discomfort. (This one I relate to oh too well. The people at a specific drive-through know my face so well, we are all almost on a first name basis). That was a general overview of the most common eating disorders. There still are many factors to include in all three, like occasional dieting, extreme exercise etc.


These are all easy for people to look up and generally understand. It’s also important to note that people who suffer with these may not have the “typical” look that most people would think. Not everyone who binge eats is fat, not everyone who is anorexic is only “skin and bones” for example. Here are the others that sometimes go unnoticed, aren’t typically understood and in some cases not taken seriously. With most if not all of these conditions the symptoms have had to last for at least one month:


1. PICA: eating of substances without any nutritional value. Nope, I’m not talking about a really rich piece of cake, rather things like sand, paper, chalk, hair, soap and even metal.

2. Rumination Disorder: This is the regurgitation of food. The food then gets re-chewed, re-swallowed or just spat out.

3. Orthorexia: The cutting out of all foods considered unhealthy and only eating food deemed as “pure” (a very narrow group typically). Interesting is that body image issues, may or may not be present with this one, but the individual could be cutting out foods that are essential.

4. Compulsive exercise: Intense anxiety over not being able to exercise, and usually the exercise can take the place of other important activities, be done at times that are not appropriate and even if there is an injury present.

5. Diabulimia: Neglect of diabetes management because medication may cause weight gain and cutting out foods to deliberately lower insulin dosage.

6. Nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder:  A sleep related eating disorder in which people eat while seeming to be sound asleep, either eating in bed or prowling to the kitchen.


There are a number of other lesser known eating disorders I could be missing. I obviously haven’t gone into too much detail or I might have you sitting and reading for hours. However, when I did some research, I realised that people rarely think the other disorders may be serious. If anything, individuals suffering with orthorexia are encouraged to keep up with the extreme lifestyle. I knew a man with orthorexia, who’s doctor eventually had to tell him he didn’t have enough fat in his diet and even in his body. The man was obsessed. Yes, men also have eating disorders, this is not exclusive to just women. 


I am not a #fitspo kind of gal… I do believe that we need to be kinder to ourselves and our bodies (it’s the ONLY ONE you have) especially if you are an able bodied person. It’s imperative to feel comfortable in your own skin just as it is. We all have good and bad days with our bodies, who doesn’t?


Here’s the thing, don’t try to force a look that your body does not conform to. The shit we put our bodies through can be so unhealthy. Eating that piece of cake won’t render you a terrible person, I promise. Exercising doesn’t mean you missed the body positive movement bus. Having some rolls and a soft belly doesn’t make you ugly, and having a six pack doesn’t make you a bad person either. Personally, I think life would actually be boring if we all looked the same. Short, tall, skinny, fat, a bit chubby, muscular… differences make us all unique. So I’d like to urge everyone to try writing a gratitude list of their bodies. Write as many points as humanly possible. It’s surprising what you realise when you didn’t realise it to begin with. Then do it again and again everyday. Look yourself in the mirror and admire those parts of your body. It takes time, but you start to appreciate what you have. Please seek help if you feel you are struggling with an eating disorder. Be a support for someone who may be struggling with one. 


#bopo #bodypositivity #effyourbeautystandards #body #loveyourself #eatingdiorders

©2019 Copyright Powerful Body & Mind/ Awande Mabaso