Criteria for Eating Disorders

Note: This is not meant for self diagnosis. Even if you only have some of the symptoms; speaking to your family physician and seeking treatment can be beneficial as your health can be at risk.

Anorexia Nervosa

The criteria for anorexia is:

  • body weight less than 85% of what is typical for someone for their age and height 
  • an intense and overwhelming fear of becoming fat or of weight gain
  • how one feels about him or her self is directly related to their weight, shape and size

Individuals with anorexia nervosa can fall into two types:

Restricting type (restriction of food occurs without engaging in binge-eating or purging behaviours) and Binge eating/purging type (self-induced vomiting occurs or the misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas)

Bulimia Nervosa

The criteria for bulimia is:

  • eating a large amount of food within a period of time (e.g: 2 hour period) that is typically larger than most people would consume during a similar period of time or circumstance
  • feeling out of control during the above episodes

The two types of bulimia nervosa are:

 - Purging type (engaging in self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas) and non-purging type (other compensatory behaviours engaged in, such as fasting, excessive exercise, rather than those behaviours in the purging category.

Binge Eating Disorder

The criteria for binge eating is:

  • experiencing frequent episodes of eating abnormally large amounts of food
  • feeling out of control when eating, specifically what or how much is being consumed

Several of the following behaviours or feelings:

  • eating more quickly than others
  • eating until being uncomfortably full
  • consuming large amounts of food, regardless of physically feeling hungry or not
  • feeling embarrassed about the amount of food being eating, resulting in one eating alone
  • after overeating, feelings of disgust, depression or guilt occur

Otherwise Specified Feeding Disorder and Eating Disorder (OSFED) 

This diagnosis is used when an individual experiences significant impairment or distress due to eating behaviours, however do not meet the full criteria for any of the above disorders.  

There are 5 forms of OSFED: 

  • typical Anorexia Nervosa - all the criteria for anorexia is met, however one's weight is within or above the normal range
  • Binge Eating Disorder - all the criteria for binge eating disorder is met, however behaviours occur less frequently or for less than three months
  • Bulimia Nervosa - all the criteria for bulimia is met, however binge eating and compensatory behaviours occur less frequently or for less than three months 
  • Purging Disorder - No binge eating present. Purging behaviour occurring frequently as a mean to control or influence weight/shape
  • Night Eating Syndrome - frequent episode of eating after awakening from sleep or an evening meal and is not influenced by social or cultural norms