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Rare Eating Disorders Database


Many of the following listings are not official eating disorders and yet they are important for helping people recover from similar afflictions. At EDReferral we are working hard to develop a database of practitioners who have experience working with these rare disorders.

Achalasia: is a disorder of the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach (esophagus), which affects the ability of the esophagus to move food toward the stomach.
Anorexia Athletica (compulsive exercising): Not a formal diagnosis. The behaviors are usually a part of anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The person repeatedly exercises beyond the requirements for good health. May be a fanatic about weight and diet. Steals time to exercise from work, school, and relationships. Focuses on challenge. Forgets that physical activity can be fun. Defines self-worth in terms of performance. Is rarely or never satisfied with athletic achievements. Does not savor victory. Pushes on to the next challenge immediately. Justifies excessive behavior by defining self as a "special" elite athlete. Compulsive exercising is not an official diagnosis as are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. We include it here because many people who are preoccupied with food and weight exercise compulsively in attempts to control weight. The real issues are not weight and performance excellence but rather control and self-respect.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID; also known as Selective Eating Disorder, SED): is an eating disorder that prevents the consumption of certain foods. It is often viewed as a phase of childhood that is generally overcome with age. Some people may not grow out of the disorder, however, and may continue to be afflicted with ARFID throughout their adult lives.
Body dysmorphic disorder: BDD is thought to be a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is not a variant of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. The person with an eating disorder says, "I am so fat." The person with BDD says, "I am so ugly." BDD often includes social phobias. Sufferers are shy and withdrawn in new situations and with unfamiliar people. BDD affects about two percent of the people in the United States. It strikes males and females equally. Seventy percent of cases appear before age eighteen. Sufferers are excessively concerned about appearance, in particular perceived flaws of face, hair, and skin. They are convinced these flaws exist in spite of reassurances from friends and family members who usually can see nothing to justify such intense worry and anxiety. BDD sufferers are at elevated risk for despair and suicide. In some cases they undergo multiple, unnecessary plastic surgeries. BDD is treatable and begins with an evaluation by a physician and mental health care provider. Treatments thus far found to be effective include medication (especially meds that adjust serotonin levels in the brain) and cognitive-behavioral therapy. A clinician makes the diagnosis and recommends treatment based on the needs and circumstances of each person.

Bigorexia: Muscle dysmorphia (bigorexia): Sometimes called bigorexia, muscle dysmorphia is the opposite of anorexia nervosa. People with this disorder obsess about being small and undeveloped. They worry that they are too little and too frail. Even if they have good muscle mass, they believe their muscles are inadequate.

Cyclic vomiting syndrome: Cycles of frequent vomiting, usually (but not always) found in children. May be related to, or share neurological mechanisms with, migraine headaches. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is an uncommon, unexplained disorder of children and adults. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is characterized by recurrent, prolonged attacks of severe nausea, vomiting and prostration with no apparent cause. Vomiting occurs at frequent intervals (5 -10 times an hour at the peak) for hours to 10 days (1-4 most commonly). The episodes tend to be similar to each other in symptoms and duration and are self-limited. The person is typically well between episodes.
Chewing and spitting: The person puts food in his/her mouth, tastes it, chews it, and then spits it out. Some people think this is a separate eating disorder. It is not. It is a calorie-control behavior commonly seen in anorexia nervosa, and sometimes in bulimia and eating-disorder-not-otherwise-specified. The person is creative, allowing some experience and enjoyment of food but avoiding calories. Since essential nutrients are not incorporated into the body, chewing and spitting can be just as harmful to health as are starvation dieting and binge eating followed by purging.Chew and Spit (CHSP), which anecdotal evidence suggests can lead to unwanted weight gain as well as deteriorating health. CHSP had been listed in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) – a resource used by clinicians to diagnose various psychiatric disorders – under Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified. However the disordered eating behaviour has since been removed from the updated edition because of a lack of awareness about the condition.
Dysphagia: Difficulty with swallowing is the sensation that food is stuck in the throat, or from the neck down to just above the abdomen behind the breastbone (sternum).
Eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE): a digestive disorder. In eosinophilic esophagitis (e-o-sin-o-FILL-ik uh-sof-uh-JIE-tis), a type of white blood cell (eosinophil) builds up in the lining of the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach (esophagus). This buildup, which is a reaction to foods, allergens or acid reflux, can inflame or injure the esophageal tissue. Damaged esophageal tissue can lead to difficulty swallowing or cause food to get caught when you swallow.
Gourmand syndrome: The person with Gourmand Syndrome is preoccupied with fine food, including its purchase, preparation, presentation, and consumption. Exceedingly rare; thought to be caused by injury to the brain. People with this eating disorder develop abnormal appetites. No single cuisine or taste drives the compulsion. Along with food passion, most sufferers exhibit spatial memory problems or diminished control over impulsive behavior.
Hirschsprung's disease: Hirschsprung's disease is a disorder of the abdomen that occurs when part or all of the large intestine or antecedent parts of the gastrointestinal tract have no nerves and therefore cannot function. During normal fetal development, cells from the neural crest migrate into the large intestine to form the networks of nerves called Auerbach's plexus and Meissner's plexus. In Hirschsprung's disease, the migration is not complete and part of the colon lacks these nerve bodies that regulate the activity of the colon.

Hypothalamic obesity: Hypothalamic obesity results from a damaged brain's hypothalamus, or pituitary gland. The condition causes one to overeat.
Infection-triggered, auto immune subtype of anorexia nervosa: Not an official eating disorder, but the topic has gathered the interest of researchers. May be related to a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder triggered by an auto immune process involving bacteria or viruses and parts of the nervous system. May be related to pediatric infection-triggered auto immune neuropsychiatric disorders (PITANDS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus (PANDAS). Suspected when symptoms and behaviors typical of anorexia nervosa appear suddenly in a young child, or when symptoms and behaviors in a young child worsen quickly with no other explanation. And when the child has had a recent respiratory, throat, or other infection. Antibiotics, antivirals, and/or vaccines may be part of the treatment, either after refusal to eat appears or as prevention. The first step in treatment is a thorough evaluation done by a pediatrician who is familiar with PITANDS and PANDAS research. Reference for physicians: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 36, Number 8.
Kleine-Levin syndrome: A rare disorder characterized by the need for excessive amounts of sleep (hypersomnolence), (i.e., up to 20 hours a day); excessive food intake (compulsive hyperphagia); and an abnormally uninhibited sexual drive. The disorder primarily affects adolescent males. When awake, affected individuals may exhibit irritability, lack of energy (lethargy), and/or lack of emotions (apathy). They may also appear confused (disoriented) and experience hallucinations. There is no specific treatment.
Night-eating syndrome: The person has little or no appetite for breakfast, delays first meal for several hours after waking up, and is often upset about how much was eaten the night before. Most of the day's calories are eaten late in the day or at night. The three main features of this syndrome are eating heavily in the evening, insomnia, and loss of appetite in the morning. In the general population, only about 1 or 2% fulfill the criteria for this syndrome. For people who are obese, however, about 9% fit the picture of someone with night-eating syndrome, and when you get to the population of severely obese people, about 1 out of 4 fill the bill. The person has little or no appetite for breakfast. Delays first meal for several hours after waking up. Is not hungry or is upset about how much was eaten the night before. * Eats more food after dinner than during that meal. * Eats more than half of daily food intake after dinner but before breakfast. * This pattern has persisted for at least two months. * Person feels tense, anxious, upset, or guilty while eating. * Person may be moody at night: tense, anxious, nervous, depressed, etc. * Has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.*Wakes frequently and then often eats. * Foods ingested are often carbohydrates: sugary and starch. * Behavior is not like binge eating which is done in relatively short episodes. Night-eating syndrome involves continual eating throughout evening hours. * This eating produces guilt and shame, not enjoyment. ANRED reports that only 1-2% of average weight adults have this problem, but that more than 25% of people who are overweight by 100 or more pounds, practice night eating.
Nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder: Thought to be a sleep disorder, not an eating disorder. Person sleep eats and may sleep walk as well. People with nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder may binge, or consume strange combinations of food, raw foods and even non-food items in the period between wakefulness and sleep. Upon waking up, the person has little or no memory of doing this. Although nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder is found across ages and in both males and females, more females appear to be affected. It is thought to be a sleep disorder rather than an eating disorder.
Odynophagia: (from the Greek roots odyno-, pain + -phagia, from phagein, to eat) is painful swallowing, in the mouth (oropharynx) or esophagus. It can occur with or without dysphagia. Odynophagia often results in inadvertent weight loss. It can be caused by many conditions, including very hot or cold food or drink, drugs, ulcers and mucosal destruction, upper respiratory tract infections, immune disorders, epiglottitis, cancers, and motor disorders.
Orthorexia nervosa: Not an official eating disorder diagnosis, but the concept was coined by Steven Bratman, M.D. to describe "a pathological fixation on eating "proper" or "pure" or "superior" food. People with orthorexia nervosa feel superior to others who eat "improper" food, which might include non-organic or junk foods and items found in regular grocery stores, as opposed to health food stores. Orthorexics obsess over what to eat, how much to eat, how to prepare food "properly," and where to obtain "pure" and "proper" foods. Eating the "right" food becomes an important ,or even the primary, focus of life. One's worth or goodness is seen in terms of what one does or does not eat. Personal values, relationships, career goals, and friendships become less important than the quality and timing of what is consumed.

Pica: A craving for non-food items such as dirt, clay, plaster, chalk, or paint chips.
Prader-Willi syndrome: A congenital problem usually associated with mental retardation and behavior problems, including a drive to eat constantly that will not be denied. PWS is caused by a chromosomal defect. It is non hereditary and it affects both sexes and all races. PWS can bring with it a number of symptoms including motor skill deficiency, incomplete growth, and mental retardation. In addition, PWS causes an unquenchable appetite. Left unchecked, sufferers can literally eat themselves to death. Treatment includes growth hormone and a low-cal diet that absolutely must be maintained.
Rumination syndrome: Person eats, swallows, and then regurgitates food back into the mouth where it is chewed and swallowed again. Process may be repeated several times or for several hours per episode. Rumination may be voluntary or involuntary. Ruminators report that regurgitated material does not taste bitter, and that it is returned to the mouth with a gentle burp, not violent gagging or retching -- not even nausea.

Selective Eating Disorder: Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID; also known as Selective Eating Disorder, SED) is an eating disorder that prevents the consumption of certain foods. It is often viewed as a phase of childhood that is generally overcome with age. Some people may not grow out of the disorder, however, and may continue to be afflicted with ARFID throughout their adult lives.

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In Partnership with the American Eating Disorder Association- -SINCE 1999