Do I Have an Eating Disorder?

It can be difficult for people to recognize or admit when they have a problem. This post can help you recognize some of the signs of disordered eating and guide you on the next steps to take.

What Eating Disorder Do I Have?

There’s a wide range of disordered behaviors. Someone is diagnosed with a specific eating disorder when their symptoms match up to the disorders listed in the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

This post will cover four common eating disorders. It’s important to know though that the label is less important than the impact that food, exercise, or body image is having on your life.

For example, if your relationship with food is causing problems in your life, relationships, career, or health then you may have an issue.


Do I Have Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder characterized by repetitive and compulsive episodes of binge eating. Everyone overeats from time to time. Overeating is different from binging.

For something to be considered a binge, at least three of the following symptoms must be true:

  • Eating more quickly than normal
  • Eating until being uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food even if you’re not hungry
  • Eating alone because you’re embarrassed about how much you’re eating
  • Feeling disgusted, guilty, or upset after binging

Also, a binge is when someone eats an amount of food larger than what most people would eat in the same amount of time. Someone with BED feels out of control while binging and has been binging at least one time per week for three months.

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Do I Have Anorexia?

People with anorexia severely restrict their food intake to the point they are unable to maintain a healthy weight. This food restriction is driven by an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. People with anorexia may also purge or compulsively exercise in order to lose weight.

Individuals with anorexia also place great importance on their body image. So much so that body shape and size feel like the most important part of the Self.

Women Weighing Herself

Do I Have Bulimia?

Individuals with bulimia deal with cycles of binging and compensatory behaviors. A compensatory behavior is any behavior that is intended to offset the “consequences” of binging.

Common compensatory behaviors include self-induced vomiting, abusive exercise, laxative abuse, or fasting. People with bulimia can be at any weight point—whether underweight, normal, or overweight.

PMS symptoms

Do I Have ARFID?

ARFID is another eating disorder that doesn’t get a lot of attention. ARFID is an eating disorder that like anorexia, is characterized by severe food restriction. However, people with ARFID don’t restrict out of a desire to lose weight.

This restriction can be driven by an extreme dislike of certain sensory (taste, texture, etc) qualities of different types of food. Other reasons for restriction include a lack of interest in eating or fear of vomiting or having a bowel movement [1].

The lack of food in people with ARFID leads to significant weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and problems in their work, school, and social life [1].

Why Do I Have an Eating Disorder?

There isn’t just one reason that someone develops an eating disorder. An eating disorder is often the result of several factors, such as:

  • Genetics
  • History of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Pressure to have a specific body shape or size
  • Growing up in a family or culture that views certain foods as “good” or “bad”
  • Perfectionism
  • Rigid thinking patterns, such as viewing things in black and white [2]


What to Do if I Have an Eating Disorder?

If you have an eating disorder, there’s hope for you. If you are at a point where you are looking for help or thinking that you might need help, kudos! This is a big step.

There are a few different ways to go about getting help. It’s important to turn to qualified professionals who are able to accurately assess an eating disorder.

Here are a couple of suggestions for how to get the ball rolling on eating disorder treatment:

  • Use the treatment finder. This tool will let you search for treatment centers in your area. Once you find one, you can call them and speak with their admissions department. The admissions department can tell you about their unique program and admissions process.
  • Talk to your insurance. Ask your insurance company for a list of in-network eating disorder treatment centers. From there, you can contact the treatment center directly and get the process started.

It’s important to get treatment. Eating disorders can wreak havoc on your life and health. Even though it’s intimidating or disordered eating may not seem like a big deal, it is. Getting help will be worth it.

[1] National Eating Disorders Association. (n.d). Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. Retrieved November 22nd, 2021 from

[2] Eating Recovery Center. (n.d). Causes of Eating Disorders. Retrieved November 22nd, 2021 from

Author: Samantha Bothwell, LMFT
Page Last Reviewed and Approved By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC 12.21.21