Eating behaviours occur along a continuum from normal to somewhat abnormal to disordered.
Our feelings about food and our body images influence our eating behaviour. True eating
disorders are psychiatric conditions characterized by long-term behaviour patterns that
negatively affect body functioning, whereas disordered eating is a more general term applicable
to any of a variety of abnormal or atypical eating behaviours that may not seriously impair health
A number of factors are thought to influence the development of eating disorders. These include
genetic and biological factors as well as environment – our family environment, the media,
society and culture. However, the combination of factors triggering the development of an eating
disorder in any individual is probably unique.
Anorexia nervosa is a severe, life-threatening disorder in which the person refuses to maintain a
minimally normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight, and exhibits a significant
distortion in the perception of body size and shape. Knowing the early warning signs of anorexia
nervosa, and understanding the denial that often accompanies it, can help you identify friends
and family members at risk for this disorder.
Bulimia nervosa is a severe eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating
followed by self-induced vomiting or another method of purging (laxatives, diuretics, excessive
exercise, fasting for days after binge) in an attempt to avoid weight gain. Knowing the early
warning signs of bulimia nervosa can help you identify friends and family members who may be
Weight cycling or yo-yo dieting occurs when a person who is normal weight or overweight
successfully diets to lose weight, then regains the lost weight, and then repeats the cycle all over
again. A chronic dieter is an individual who consistently and successfully restricts energy intake
to maintain an average or a belo