Common Eating Disorders
As a golfer, your diet and mental health are major performance factors. Learn about the 4 most common eating disorders athletes may face, as well as what signs to look out for and steps to take toward recovery.
Jun 20, 2023 By Common Eating Disorders

If you are an avid golfer, your diet plays a huge part in your health and game. Unfortunately, many golfers struggle with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and rumination syndrome without noticing the signs themselves or taking the necessary steps to get help from professionals.

Not only can these mental health issues take a toll on physical performance, but they can also impact concentration levels throughout practice and tournament days.

To ensure that you're mentally prepared for the tee-off time and optimizing peak potential on the green—it's essential to understand how to make informed decisions about what goes into your body before playing golf.

In this blog post, we'll cover the common types of eating disorders and why those involved in sports like golf must look out for them in their lives.

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a mental health disorder typically characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. Eating disorders are serious and can have life-threatening consequences if not treated in time.

The most common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder (BED), and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).

Signs of an eating disorder

Symptoms of an eating disorder can vary greatly from person to person. Very preoccupied with food, weight, or appearance, eating a lot of food quickly, making efforts to limit food intake, such as vomiting or using laxatives, and getting plenty of exercise.

Other physical and emotional symptoms include frequent dieting, feeling out of control around food, avoiding meals or social events centered around food, insomnia or sleeping too much, anxiety or depression, extreme mood swings, low self-esteem, and isolation.

Common types of eating disorders

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extreme weight loss and an intense fear of gaining weight. Common signs and symptoms include food restriction, preoccupation with body shape or size, overly critical self-image, a distorted body image, and excessive exercise.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by bingeing and purging to control weight. Common signs and symptoms include self-induced vomiting, fasting or restrictive dieting, over-exercising, preoccupation with food and body shape, feeling out of control, and a fear of gaining weight.

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of uncontrollable overeating.

Common signs and symptoms include exercising control during binges, eating even when you're not hungry or full, feeling ashamed or guilty after binging, hiding food for later binges, and frequent dieting without success.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)

ARFID is an eating disorder characterized by a persistent avoidance of certain foods due to the fear of negative consequences such as choking or vomiting.

Common signs and symptoms include low weight, nutritional deficiencies, anxiety around food and mealtimes, difficulty transitioning to new foods or textures, gagging when exposed to certain foods, and avoiding social situations involving food.


Pica is an eating disorder characterized by persistently ingesting non-food items such as paper, dirt, or chalk.

Common signs and symptoms include cravings for non-nutritive substances, ingestion over time, absence of cultural acceptance for the behavior, and potential nutritional deficiencies due to lack of proper nutrition.

Night Eating Syndrome (NES)

NES is an eating disorder characterized by late-night binges and excessive daily snacking.

Common signs and symptoms include frequent nighttime awakening with episodes of bingeing or overeating, feeling irritable or depressed during the day or in social situations involving food, difficulty sleeping at night and waking up hungry in the morning, and consuming more calories at night than during the day.

Rumination Disorder

Rumination disorder is an eating disorder characterized by regurgitating ingested food and then re-chewing, re-swallowing, or spitting it out.

Common signs and symptoms include frequent episodes of regurgitation, difficulty swallowing solid foods, excessive salivation, and saliva in vomit after meals, abdominal bloating or discomfort after meals, weight loss due to inadequate nutrition, and recurrent chest infections due to aspiration of food particles into the lungs.

Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a preoccupation with healthy eating habits and avoiding unhealthy foods.

Common signs and symptoms include fear of certain foods or ingredients, restrictive eating habits, preoccupation with food quality and safety, a need for control over food choices or preparation, excessive exercise to "burn off" calories consumed, and feeling guilty or ashamed after eating certain foods.

Food Avoidance Emotional Disorder (FAED)

FAED is an eating disorder that avoids specific foods due to fear, disgust, or anxiety.

Common signs and symptoms include avoidance of certain foods or food groups, extreme fear or anxiety around eating, shame or guilt after eating certain foods, and a preoccupation with food-related thoughts.

Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED)

UFED is an umbrella term for all other feeding and eating disorders that don't fit the above categories. Common signs and symptoms include all the above behaviors and any disordered eating behavior not included in the other categories.

No matter which type of eating disorder you are struggling with, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional for treatment and support. Those suffering from eating disorders can find support, learn to manage their symptoms and live healthier lives with proper care.

What causes eating disorders?

Eating disorders are complex conditions with no single cause. Genetics, biology, environment, and psychological factors can all contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

Common risk factors include a family history of eating disorders, being female (although males can suffer from eating disorders too), body dissatisfaction or low self-esteem, mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, perfectionism, difficulty coping with stress or trauma, history of dieting or disordered eating, and interpersonal issues such as bullying, abuse, or a history of being teased about one's weight.

How are eating disorders diagnosed?

Eating disorders are diagnosed based on various criteria, including physical and psychological symptoms. A mental health professional will typically conduct an assessment to determine if a person meets the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. This may include taking a medical history, completing physical exams or laboratory tests, and conducting psychological or personality assessments.

How are eating disorders treated?

Treatment for eating disorders typically consists of a combination of medical care, nutritional guidance, and psychotherapy. The goal of treatment is to help individuals develop healthier relationships with food and their bodies, learn coping skills for managing stress or difficult emotions, and improve overall physical health. Medication may also address underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.


Who typically has eating disorders?

Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. People with eating disorders typically have a distorted view of body size and shape and an intense fear of gaining weight. Common eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).

What is a diagnosable eating disorder?

A diagnosable eating disorder is a mental health condition characterized by an unhealthy relationship with food. Eating disorders may involve excessive food restriction, compulsive overeating, and purging behaviors. People with a diagnosable eating disorder typically experience poor physical and emotional health consequences that can be life-threatening if left untreated.

What model died of anorexia?

In November 2020, model Daul Kim died at the age of 20 from anorexia nervosa. Her death sparked a renewed conversation about eating disorders and the need for greater awareness. It is estimated that approximately 30 million people in the United States have some form of diagnosable eating disorder.


Eating disorders can have a serious and long-lasting impact on your physical and mental health. It is important to seek help if you or someone close to you is struggling with an eating disorder. Common types of eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), and other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). Treatment for these disorders typically involves a combination of medical, nutritional, psychological, and social support. With the right resources and support system, people with an eating disorder can progress toward recovery.

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