Disordered Eating and Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are complex, chronic illnesses largely misunderstood and misdiagnosed. The most common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating. No one knows exactly what causes an eating disorder, however it can be found among all socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural groups. Eating disorders have numerous physical, psychological and social ramifications from significant weight preoccupation, inappropriate eating behaviour and body image distortion. Many people with eating disorders experience depression, anxiety, substance abuse, childhood abuse and may be at risk of osteoporosis and heart problems.


Disordered Eating

Disordered eating is a term used to describe eating habits or patterns that are irregular. Many different types of disordered eating habits exist but for the most part these habits do not add up to a diagnosis of an eating disorder. Excluding whole food groups (for example, all fats or all carbohydrates), eating only specific foods, eating only foods of a specific colour, eating only foods of a specific texture, not eating certain foods together in a sitting and not eating specific foods from the same plate can all be types of disordered eating.

Disordered eating can also be described as changes in eating patterns that occur in relation to a stressful event, an illness, personal appearance or in preparation for athletic competition. Disordered eating also involves people who have no time to eat or plan their meals properly, who often eat fast food or miss meals especially breakfast and who are not aware of their body signals of hunger or fullness.


Differences between Eating Disorder and Disordered Eating

  • Eating disorders are chronic and most often even complex illnesses which need concrete treatment and therapies for effective control. Disordered eating on the other hand is not complex enough to be categorised as an illness.
  • Some of the prominent forms of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia. All of them are known to have damaging repercussions on health. Disordered eating might not have specific names as such. Some forms of dieting or resorting to diet pills and weight loss supplements can also be considered as forms of disordered eating.
  • Whereas eating disorders are most often persistent conditions which might last through the years if left untreated, disordered eating sprees are considered to be rare phenomenon. They might occur as isolated spells and no prevalent trends can be established for the same.
  • Eating disorder can often be considered responsible for serious repercussions. Alternatively, disordered eating is considerably less harmful leading to some nutritional insufficiencies alone.
  • Disordered eating is mostly atypical while the same cannot be said about eating disorders.
  • Disordered eating can often develop into an eating disorder. The reverse however, is not possible.


Several studies in the last decade show that eating disorders and disordered eating behaviours are related to other health risk behaviours including tobacco use, alcohol and drug abuse, delinquency, unprotected sexual activity and suicide attempts.

While disordered eating can lead to weight loss or weight gain and to certain nutritional problems, it rarely requires in depth professional attention. However, it may develop into an eating disorder. If disordered eating becomes sustained, distressing or begins to interfere with everyday activities, then it may require professional evaluation.



Allergic Reactions – Four Types

The immune system is an integral part of human protection against disease but the normally protective immune mechanisms can sometimes cause detrimental reactions in the host. All types of allergic reactions are caused by the hypersensitivity of the immune system to an allergen. Any item, chemical or substance that causes an allergic reaction is an allergen.

Different immunoglobulins (Igs) are involved in different types of allergic reactions. The main groups of Igs are IgE, IgG, IgA, IgM and IgD.


The four main types of allergic reactions are listed below along with brief explanation:


1. Type I (IgE-mediated and anaphylactic)

Type I is most commonly associated with allergic reactions to drugs such as chemotherapy medicine.  These reactions are immediate and may occur within seconds or few minutes, especially if the body has been exposed to the foreign substance before and has been ‘sensitized’.

Examples of this type of reaction are hay fever, allergic asthma, hives (urticaria), food allergies etc.


2. Type II (Cytotoxic, cell reactions)

With Type II reactions, the antibodies produced during an immune response recognise and bind to antigens (structural components of cell surfaces).  This antibody/antigen complex then activates ‘classical’ pathways in the immune system to cause inflammation at the site. This creates a defect on the cell’s surface leading to breaking open of the cell and eventually killing it.

Examples of this type of allergic reaction are transfusion reactions, autoimmune hemolytic anemia.


3. Type III (Immune-complex)

In Type III reactions, immune complexes are formed in the circulation and deposit in various tissues where they may trigger the classical pathways in the immune system.  This process may occur in hours to days from the triggering substance.

Examples of this type of allergic reaction are serum sickness, systemic lupus erythematosus immune-complex glomerulonephritis (a disorder of the kidney).


4. Type IV (cell-mediated)

This type of reaction is a delayed reaction (2-3 days) and involves activation of the T-cells of the immune system. The foreign substance is presented to the T-cells of the immune system, which recognises them and sets off a series of reactions that eventually work to destroy the targeted cells.

Examples of this type of reaction are contact dermatitis (poison ivy), rejection of a transplanted organ etc.