Do I Have an Eating Disorder


Glasgow Centre for Eating Disorders

Therapy, Support, Training and Education for Eating Disorders in Scotland

Types of Eating Disorder


There are many forms of eating disorder and disordered eating, some of which you may not have heard of before.


The most 'well-known' eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. While anorexia may be one of the most well-known of eating disorders, it's actually one of the least common of eating disorders: there is a significantly higher incidence of bulimia, binge-eating disorder, EDNOS and other eating disorders compared to anorexia. We hear about anorexia more in the media, in books, in magazines etc, however, it not the most common of the eating disorders.


Here's a list of the eating disorders we currently know about. However, there is likely to be more forms of eating disorder and disordered eating, as well as various forms of those eating disorders noted below.


  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Orthorexia
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • Chew and Spit Disorder
  • Compulsive Overeating
  • Phagophobia
  • Pica
  • Purging Disorder
  • Night Eating Syndrome
  • Emotional Eating
  • Selective Eating Disorder
  • Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified or (EDNOS)


If you require more detailed information about these forms of eating disorder, please get in touch for an Information Sheet.

Do I Have an Eating Disorder?

‘I look normal and I’m not sure if I have an eating disorder’. Some people think that because someone looks ‘normal’ then they can’t have an eating disorder. We can look ‘normal’ but still have all these thoughts, feelings, worries, concerns etc going on underneath.


As far as we are concerned (and, as mentioned previously), if someone says that they have difficulties with food and eating in some way and that it affects their life in some way, then they may have an eating disorder and need help and support. As mentioned previously, diagnostic criteria, especially for eating disorders, are basically there because there is a lack of resources and the number of people eligible to receive ‘formal’ treatment must, therefore, be limited in some way.


Eating disorders come in all forms and most people who have problems with food and eating do not meet all of the diagnostic criteria. As highlighted, this can be dangerous, as perhaps ‘controllable’ behaviours can very easily turn into a very serious mental health condition with devastating consequences.


Many people that we are in contact with question whether they do have an eating disorder, even though they may not be ‘underweight’ or been told they look ‘ok’ or ‘fine’. From our experience, it seems that many people – both men and women – worry that they are not ‘ill enough’ to warrant help and support.


It is important to reassure people that the Glasgow Centre for Eating Disorders provides support and information to anyone who feels that they have problems with food and eating and that it affects their life negatively in some way. Please do not worry about accessing any services because you feel or have been told you look ‘normal’. People can look ‘normal’ and be of a ‘normal’ weight but are, underneath, very ill and debilitated by their eating disordered thoughts, feelings and behaviours.


Most people with an eating disorder do not fit into a specific category. We are all different and this is a stereotype that is often portrayed by members of the medical profession and the media and which must be challenged


If you do wish to think a little more about whether you might be suffering from an eating disorder or disordered eating, here are some questions to ask yourself. Some of the questions will apply to you and others will not. We are all different, meaning that our eating disorder experiences will also differ from person-to-person and be individual to each of us.


  • Do you use self-starvation, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, diet supplements, purging, self-induced vomiting, or excessive exercise as a way of losing weight or controlling the amount of food you eat?


  • Do you engage in any of the above when you are feeling sad, angry, lonely, depressed, confused, stressed, or when you are feeling under pressure or out of control?


  • Do you spend a lot of time cooking for other people, reading recipes or looking at the calories and fat content in food?


  • Would you worry about a family member or friend if they came to talk to you about having similar eating and food behaviours as you have?


  • Do you hide food, eat alone, avoid eating in front of other people or engage in secretive behaviours surrounding your eating behaviours and/or buying and eating food?


  • Do you even feel relieved, less stressed/pressurised, comforted, or more in control after restricting your food intake or bingeing and/or purging?


  • Do you often feel guilty after a binge, after a snack, after overeating or after eating a small portion of food?


  • Do you ever feel that you have immediately gained weight after eating even a small amount of food?


  • Do you ever drink water, diet drinks, tea or coffee to suppress you appetite or stop yourself from eating food?


  • Do you even smoke cigarettes as a way of curbing your appetite and to stop yourself from eating?


  • Do you lie about what you have eaten and how much? Do you often say you are not hungry, have already eaten, feel sick, are cutting out certain foods, are eating healthier, or that you haven’t eaten when you have? Maybe you say you haven't eaten, when in fact, you may have eated a lot of food?


  • Do you ever do any of the following: avoid eating in public; make excuses to avoid eating meals; wear loose clothes to hide your weight/body; hide food; steal food; use laxatives/diuretics/diet supplements/enemas; caffeine pills; eat in secret; or exercise in secret?


  • Do you ever set weight targets only to find that when you reach the target you wish to lose more weight?


  • Do you weigh yourself often?


  • Does the number on the scales affect your mood and feelings of self-worth, or how ‘good’ you are as a person?


  • Do you chew and spit food (chewing food, and spitting it out rather than swallowing)?


  • Do you binge (eat large amount of food in a short period of time)?


  • Do you restrict your food intake or starve yourself (eating very little/nothing/as little as possible)?


  • Do you purge (self-induced vomiting, using laxatives/diuretics/enemas, exercising excessively)?


  • Do you take diet supplements, laxatives, diuretics, appetite suppressants, use enemas or use other substances to combat the effects of eating)?


  • Do you compulsively overeat (eat even when you are not hungry)?






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