Eating disorders

Information about eating disorders and places to find support.

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a condition where eating behaviours are extreme or unhealthy. They are often a sign of distress.


Anorexia is an eating disorder that causes people to severely restrict what and how much they eat. This is often due to worries about weight.

Read more about anorexia, from Beat a UK eating disorder charity.


Bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterised by binge eating – eating an extreme amount of food. This is then followed by purging – trying to get rid of the food eaten by vomiting, taking laxatives or excessive exercising.

Read more about bulimia, from Beat a UK eating disorder charity.


Pica is an eating disorder where a person eats non-food items. This can include anything, such as shampoo, rocks, mud or plastic toys. It can be worrying as a carer because some items are dangerous to eat, for example cleaning fluids that contain toxic chemicals. Hard items can also damage teeth and cause choking.

Pica often occurs in people who have conditions such as autism or learning disabilities.

Read more about pica, from Beat a UK eating disorder charity.

ARFID – Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

ARFID is an eating disorder where people avoid eating particular types of food. It is not about ‘fussy’ or ‘picky’ eating. it is avoidance often caused by severe anxiety. It can lead to weight loss and poor nutrition if the person is not eating enough.

ARFID is often found in autistic people or those with other conditions such as anxiety disorders or ADHD.

Read more about ARFID, from Beat a UK eating disorder charity.

More information

There are more types of eating disorder than those listed above.

Further resources to find out more

Support regarding eating disorders

Support for children:

Support for adults:

Support for you or someone you love

  • BEAT - there doesn't have to be an eating order diagnosis to use this service.