Newsletter Banner - Disordered Eating-4.png

Apr 19, 2023, 4:00 am UTC

1 min

Created by

Eating disorder vs disordered eating

Disordered eating and eating disorders aren't the same.

An eating disorder is a clinical diagnosis. In contrast, disordered eating describes behaviors, thoughts, and emotions related to food and body image that don’t meet the criteria for eating disorders but aren't healthy habits either. In other words, disordered eating sits on a spectrum between "normal" intuitive eating and "abnormal" eating patterns that signal an eating disorder.

Both are cause for concern.

About 9% of adults in the U.S. are affected by an eating disorder in their lifetime. Up to 20% of adults have symptoms of an eating disorder but do not meet the standard definition. Furthermore, disordered eating can progress to an eating disorder, so it's important to spot it early and get help.


  1. Laurence, E and Ross, C. (2022, September 15). Disordered Eating: Causes, Warnings Signs And How To Seek Help. Forbes Health. 
  2. American Psychiatric Association. Eating disorders. December 2020. Available at:
  3. Psycom Pro. Eating Disorders. Available at:
  4. Smink, F.R.E., van Hoeken, D. & Hoek, H.W. Epidemiology of Eating Disorders: Incidence, Prevalence and Mortality RatesCurr Psychiatry Rep 14, 406–414 (2012).
  5. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders. Available at:
  6. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Eating Disorder Statistics. Available at:

Subscribe to our newsletter

  • Get a weekly roundup of articles, inspiration, and brain health science in your inbox. Subscribe now.

More Blogs

  • Is it the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

    Is it the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder?

    Jan 16, 2023, 5:00 am UTC

    See the difference — and understand your treatment options.

  • Discrimination may explain why some women binge eat

    Discrimination may explain why some women binge eat

    Dec 06, 2022, 5:00 am UTC5 min

    Research suggests there is a connection between discrimination and binge eating, particularly among young Latines.

  • Picturing Brain Health: Making connections

    Picturing Brain Health: Making connections

    Feb 15, 2023, 5:00 am UTC1 min

    Use this visual guide to build connections and cultivate belonging.