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As dietitians in the field of eating disorders, much of the conversations with have with clients, loved ones and colleagues is about recovery and also breaking free from diet culture. Discussing ED basics, the medical complications of eating disorders and finding recovery tools is nothing new to us. And as new research comes out, we try to evolve along with that research. We sometimes forget that not everyone is aware of the ED basics. This inspired us and our student interns to write a blog about it. 

What are eating disorders?

In short, eating disorders are emotional and physical illnesses, they are incredibly damaging, and potentially deadly. There are currently 8 types of eating disorders that are listed in the DSM-5.

* The DSM-5 is the “Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” used by psychiatrists to diagnose patients who suffer from mental disorders.*

Common eating disorders include: 



Binge Eating Disorder

Bulimia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

Eating disorders are often not portrayed accurately. And, they tend to be narrowly represented in media and pop culture. However, anyone can develop an eating disorder. Repeat: ANYONE can develop an eating disorder. People of all weights, genders, ages, social classes, and sexual orientations. Its so important to recognize there is no “look” or “type” for an eating disorder, this viewpoint limits proper care and recognition. It can stop people from getting treatment that they need. 

There is no one known cause for eating disorders.

But, it is believed that they are caused by a combination of psychological, social, and environmental factors.  Women and men who diet are more likely to develop an eating disorder. In addition, they are 12x as likely to develop struggles with binge eating as people who do not diet.


Eating disorders are life-threatening. And they are associated with serious physical complications. Health risks include cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalance, and even death. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. This makes it all the more important to get treatment early. Early recognition and treatment is key!

Eating disorders are not choices.

They are serious mental illnesses, they impact a person’s relationships, life, and physical health. Recovery from one is possible. However, recovery absolutely requires proper treatment. Treatment teams often include dietitians, doctors, and therapists. Having a treatment team in place is key for the type of support needed for recovery. 

By Ivy Devadas (Student Intern)

If you or a loved one could be suffering from an eating disorder, call (240) 670-4675  and speak with one of our REBEL dietitians. Find out more about how Empowered Eating can help you find freedom from food.

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