MyFitnessPal believes food should nourish and be enjoyed, however, we acknowledge that relationships with food are not always so simple.
Eating behaviors are shaped by a number of factors, including biological, behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social influences that can have powerful effects on how we think about and connect with food. These factors can either influence eating behaviors in a healthy way or contribute to problematic or disordered, eating behaviors.
Struggling with Food or Exercise Issues?
Take a free and confidential online eating disorder screening here or see the "Seeking Help" section below.
What Healthy Eating Looks Like
- Eating a variety of foods
- Enjoying food without guilt or anxiety
- Eating when physically hungry
- Eating until satisfied, but not overly full
- Enjoying treats and comfort foods on occasion
Signs of Problematic Eating
- Recurring episodes of under or overeating
- Eating in response to emotions instead of hunger
- Eating to a point of physical discomfort
- Preoccupation or distress regarding weight and frequent comparison to others
- Inappropriate behaviors to compensate for eating such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, fasting, or excessive exercise
Types of Eating Disorders & Symptoms
While eating disorders may first appear to be weight-focused, food can also become a coping mechanism for feelings or emotions that may otherwise seem overwhelming. Over time, these behaviors will damage an individual’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem, sense of confidence, and control.
Binge Eating Disorder (BED): Characterized by repetitive, uncontrolled eating of large amounts of food in a short period of time, without behaviors to prevent weight gain. People who suffer from BED may frequently experience feeling out of control when eating––they may eat when not hungry or in response to emotions, eat to the point of discomfort or eat alone out of shame for their behavior. Binge-eating is sometimes, but not always, associated with obesity. Learn more
Anorexia Nervosa (AN): Characterized by restrictive eating (such as fasting or extreme dieting) that leads to weight loss. Compulsive exercise routines and other persistent behaviors may also be taken to prevent weight gain or promote further weight loss. Those suffering from AN commonly exhibit an intense fear of weight gain and/or an obsession with weight. Some sufferers of AN may also show an obsession with athletic performance and engage in strenuous exercise and dieting to an unhealthy extent. Learn more
Bulimia Nervosa (BN): Characterized by frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food, feeling a lack of control over eating, and followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain. These behaviors include but are not limited to 1) self-induced vomiting, 2) abusing laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, or enemas, 3) fasting and/or 4) compulsive exercising. People suffering from BN may also exhibit an intense fear of gaining weight. Learn more
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS): Includes feeding or eating disorders that cause significant stress or impairment, but does not meet the criteria for the eating disorders explained above. Disordered eating presents in many different ways. Learn more
Eating disorders affect people of every age, race, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status. Much like the individuals they affect, they are unique and complex, and may not fall into a clear category. If you are concerned about your eating and exercise habits, or thoughts and emotions surrounding food, physical activity, and body image, or if you’re concerned about a friend or loved one, we urge you to seek help. If you're seeking help outside of the US, see our Global Eating Disorder Support section below.
If you’re struggling to have a healthy relationship with food, body image or exercise, our partners, the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), can help. If you’re not sure if you suffer from disordered eating or exercise habits, start by taking their free and confidential Eating Disorders Screening Tool. You can also seek help by calling the NEDA Helpline (From the US: 1-800-931-2237), chatting with a NEDA volunteer, or by visiting their website for additional resources or NEDA en Espanol.
For a Friend or Family Member:
If you are concerned about the eating habits, weight, or body image of someone close to you, NEDA offers great resources for friends and family members, including a toolkit to help you understand how you can support a loved one with an eating disorder, and the Parent, Family & Friends Network. Learn more.
If you or someone you know are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please visit our resource page for more information.
Eating Disorder Resources:
- Academy for Eating Disorders
- Eating Disorders Anonymous
- National Alliance for Eating Disorders
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
- National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
Global Eating Disorder Support:
- Australia: National Eating Disorders Collaboration
- Austria: Austrian Society for Eating Disorders (ASED)
- Belgium: Dutch Association for Eating Disorders
- Brazil: Eating Disorders Support and Treatment Group
- Canada: National Eating Disorder Information Center
- Czech Republic: Czech Eating Disorder Association
- China: Hong Kong Eating Disorders Association
- Costa Rica: Vital Change Foundation
- Germany: Germany Society on Eating Disorders
- Greece: The Centre for Education and Treatment of Eating Disorders
- Ireland: Eating Disorder Resource Centre of Ireland
- Italy: Associazione Italiana Disturbi Dell’Alimentazione e del Peso
- Israel: The Israel Association for Eating Disorders
- Japan: Japan Society for Eating Disorders
- Spain: Eating Disorders Support and Treatment Group
- UK: Beat Eating Disorders
Help us grow our list!
If you know of an eating disorder organization in a country not listed here, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the name and a link to their website.
Article is closed for comments.