Eating Disorders

The cultural imperative to align ourselves with a certain body type and shape deeply affects us by as early as six years old. Many of us develop eating disorders in an attempt to attain that ideal, though disordered eating habits can develop for complex emotional reasons that have little to do with weight, such as a desire for control. While eating disorders are frequently discussed as a “women’s issue,” they affect all genders (in fact, subclinical disordered eating habits, such as binge eating and purging, are nearly as common among men as women). Eating disorders are often a hidden illness; it’s impossible to tell if someone has one just by appearance or physical fitness, and since they frequently carry great burdens of shame, sufferers usually hide their behaviors and carefully mask their symptoms. Even when we’re aware that someone around us has an eating disorder, we’re often unsure about how to support their needs without enabling their disordered behavior. Eating disorders can have serious physical consequences and typically require medical and psychological treatment.

If you or someone you know is in immediate need of support, please seek professional help. If you are in crisis, here are some immediate free resources.


6 Types of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors. Obsessions with food, body weight, and shape may also signal an eating disorder. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.

Sick Enough

Patients with eating disorders frequently feel that they aren’t "sick enough" to merit treatment, despite medical problems that are both measurable and unmeasurable. They may struggle to accept rest, nutrition, and a team to help them move towards recovery.

Eating Disorders: The Nutrient Solution

As a psychiatrist, I am clearly familiar with the psychodynamic issues underlying eating disorders, and I see psychotherapy as a vital part of treatment.

You know you are addicted to a food if despite knowing it is bad for you and despite wanting to change, you still keep eating it.


My Unhealthy Obsession With Getting Thin

As Evelyn started to grow up and become a teenager, she looked around at her friends and started to notice differences in the way she looked.

8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder Workbook

8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder was lauded as a "brave and hopeful book" as well as "remarkably readable.

How Alanis Morissette Beat Her Eating Disorder

Alanis Morissette struggled with eating disorders in her teens and 20s. But then she discovered how good it felt to treat her body right—and this fall she ran a marathon to prove it. Here, Morissette opens up about her long, winding road to becoming healthy.


An Eating Disorder Specialist Explains How Trauma Creates Food Disorders

As an eating disorder and trauma therapist, Ashley McHan sees patients with an array of issues with food. VICE speaks to her about our unhealthy relationship to food, how it contributes to disordered eating and the underlying causes, similarities and differences of various eating disorders.

Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder (Second Edition)

If your teen has an eating disorder—such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating—you may feel helpless, worried, or uncertain about how you can best support them. That’s why you need real, proven-effective strategies you can use right away.

Eating Disorders Thrive in Anxious Times, and Pose a Lethal Threat

Eating disorders are thriving during the pandemic. Hotline calls to the National Eating Disorders Association are up 70-80% in recent months. For many, eating is a form of control — a coping mechanism tied to stress.


The information offered here is not a substitute for professional advice. Please proceed with care and caution.