A person with anorexia nervosa has a distorted view of their body and may have a fear of putting on weight.
People with anorexia nervosa become preoccupied with food and weight. It may become an obsession that severely impacts what and how they eat.
They will create extreme rules and restrictions about their diets. Some people with anorexia may binge eat and then purge.
Anorexia falls into two general types:
1. Restricting type
People with this type of anorexia nervosa place severe restrictions on the quantity and type of food they consume.
This could include counting calories, skipping meals, restricting certain foods (such as carbohydrates) and following obsessive rules, such as only eating foods of a particular colour.
These behaviours may be accompanied by excessive exercise.
2. Binge eating / purging type
People with this type of anorexia also place restrictions on the food they eat. But it's accompanied by binge eating or purging. Binge eating involves feeling out of control and eating a large amount of food.
A person then 'compensates' for this eating by purging the food through vomiting, misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas.
These behaviours are unhealthy physically and mentally, and can even be life threatening. It's important to seek ongoing therapy and nutritional education for treatment of anorexia nervosa.
Where to get help
If you or someone you know might have anorexia nervosa, contact the following organisations for support, information and counselling:
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Last reviewed: June 2019