Many people are concerned about how they look and can feel self-conscious about their bodies. This can be especially true when they are going through puberty, and undergo dramatic physical changes and face new social pressures. Generally, eating disorders involve self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about body weight and food, and eating habits that disrupt normal body function and daily activities. While more common among women, eating disorders can affect men, too.
People with anorexia have an extreme fear of weight gain and a distorted view of their body size and shape. As a result, they strive to maintain a very low body weight. Some restrict their food intake by dieting, fasting, or excessive exercise. They hardly eat at all and often try to eat as few calories as possible, frequently obsessing over food intake. The small amount of food they do eat becomes an obsession.
Bulimia is characterized by habitual binge eating and purging. Someone with bulimia may undergo weight fluctuations, but rarely experiences the low weight associated with anorexia. Both disorders can involve compulsive exercise or other forms of purging food they have eaten, such as by self-induced vomiting or laxative use.
Although anorexia and bulimia are very similar, people with anorexia are usually very thin and underweight but those with bulimia may be a normal weight or even overweight.