Why I differentiate Anorexia from other Eating Disorders

The reason I differentiate anorexia from other eating disorders is because there are two sub-types of anorexia – a restricting sub-type and a binge-eating/purging sub type. Understanding the difference is important when considering how best to approach and support someone with anorexia.

Unlike most ED presentations,  a person with anorexia (restricting sub-type) does not present with recurring binge eating and loss of control. This person progressively restricts the amount of food and calories they consume and often over-exercises BUT denies they have a problem because they (genuinely) do not see themselves as having one. This is because their behaviour is ego syntonic – it “fits” their desired self concept as a person who is good, in control, pure, powerful, needless (and other virtues they wish to embody).

It is generally not until a person with restricting anorexia starts to experience binge eating and loss of control that they are ready to reach out for help. This has implications for treatment and support. I will explore some thoughts around anorexia restricting and binge eating purging type in the next few episodes. I welcome your feedback and questions. michelle@michellesparkes.com @mp_sparkes

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