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Eating Disorder Definitions

Eating disorders can be complicated and may involve one's emotional and mental health. To help encourage understanding, some descriptions of common eating disorders are provided below.

If you believe you or a loved one has an eating disorder, we can help. To contact us, online health history questionnaire, contact our clinic at 320-255-5996 or at

Conditions We Treat

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by:

  • weight loss (or lack of appropriate weight gain in growing children)
  • difficulties maintaining an appropriate body weight for height, age, and stature
  • distorted body image

People with anorexia generally restrict the number of calories and the types of food they eat. Some people with the disorder also exercise compulsively, purge via vomiting and laxatives, and/or binge eat.

Anorexia can affect people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is an eating or feeding disturbance (e.g., apparent lack of interest in eating or food; avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food; concern about aversive consequences of eating) manifested by persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs associated with one (or more) of the following:

  • significant weight loss (or failure to achieve expected weight gain or faltering growth in children).
  • Significant nutritional deficiency.
  • Dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements.
  • Marked interference with psychosocial functioning.

ARFID does not involve any distress about body shape or size, or fears of fatness.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent episodes of:

  • Eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort)
  • A feeling of a loss of control during the binge
  • Experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards

BED also does not involve compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED)

OSFED is a category used to encompass those individuals who did not meet strict diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa but still have a significant eating disorder.

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