Does Normal Body Weight Hide Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is a severe mental health disorder related to negative eating behavior. It severely impacts your physical and mental health and prevents you from functioning normally in social or work situations. In some cases, it can lead to hospitalization or death. 

Can you have normal body weight and an eating disorder at the same time? What are the types of eating disorders? What are the symptoms of having an eating disorder?

The article will discuss eating disorders, their signs, and specific body weight with eating disorders.

If you are experiencing eating disorders, this guide here can help you find nearby clinics.

Can You Have Normal Body Weight and an Eating Disorder at the Same Time? 

One out of 10 of the population worldwide is affected by eating disorders. It is considered the second deadliest mental illness. Eating disorders can affect anyone, but they are more common in teenage girls and middle-aged women. 

         Results of a study in 2019 showed that teens and young adolescents could suffer from an eating disorder despite having a healthy body weight. 

Overweight and obese people can suffer from eating disorders too. They often suffer from binge eating disorder (BED), an eating disorder where you overeat for a short time. 

Eating disorders often occur with other mental disorders like anxiety, mood disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcohol abuse, and drug addiction. 

What Are the Signs of Having an Eating Disorder?

         It is unknown what causes eating disorders. Studies suggest that genes and heredity greatly influence your chances of developing an eating disorder. Other triggers include a stressful life event, a complicated relationship, or a physical illness.

         Although the causes are still unknown, eating disorders are treatable. The first step to treating eating disorders is to determine their symptoms. Here are some types of eating disorders and their symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa

People with anorexia have an immense fear of weight gain. Anorexic people starve themselves while exercising excessively. They have a negative body image, making them see themselves as fat even when extremely underweight. 

This eating disorder has the highest death rate of any mental disorder, second only to opioid use disorder. 

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa are immense fear of becoming fat, eating minimal amounts of food, distorted body image, and intensive and unnecessary exercise. 

Two types of anorexia nervosa are the restricting and purging types. Restricting people mainly go on a fast diet or work out too much to lose weight. Meanwhile, a purging type does intermittent fasting and binge eating and purging.

Bulimia Nervosa

People suffering from bulimia nervosa binge eat and then purge everything they consume. They do this by forcing themselves to throw up or using laxatives. Bulimic people exercise excessively and fast for long periods.

Symptoms of this condition include trips to the bathroom immediately after having a meal, overexercising, chronic sore throat, tooth decay caused by stomach acid, heartburn, and recurrent diarrhea. 

It’s hard to detect bulimia as someone with this condition doesn’t look underweight. Bulimic people can be underweight, healthy, or even overweight. 

Binge Eating Disorder

People with binge eating disorders continue eating even after they’re full. They’re eating behavior is out of control, and they consume large amounts of food in a short time. Unlike bulimia, those with binge eating disorders do not eliminate their excess food intake.

         People suffering from BED eat even when they’re not hungry or continue eating until they’re uncomfortably full. They often rapidly eat large amounts of food. They feel distressed and guilty after eating a lot that they usually eat alone to hide their embarrassment. 

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

         Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, shortened to ARFID, usually develops in children though it can start at any age. People suffering from ARFID avoid eating food based on its quality or because they experienced a traumatic incident with food.

Symptoms of this condition include lack of appetite or only eating limited types of food. This condition leads to poor growth and malnutrition. 

         Most children with this ARFID are underweight. Others have a healthy weight or are overweight when they only eat junk food. 


People with pica eat non-food items such as grass, soap, chalk, or hair. This condition often occurs in kids but may develop in adulthood too. Those suffering from pica sometimes eat objects that can harm their health. 

         Symptoms of pica include eating and craving non-food objects such as dirt, rocks, clay, crayons, paper, or even poop. They may suffer health problems like mouth or teeth injury, anemia, constipation, intestinal infection, or lead poisoning. 

Rumination Disorder

         People with rumination disorder repeatedly chew and swallow their food. Sometimes, they spit it out after chewing it several times. 

Rumination is a rare condition and is usually undiagnosed. Rumination is often mistaken for another mental illness, such as heartburn or delayed digestion.

Photo by Toni Koraza on Unsplash