Disordered eating is a term that is used by some people to describe a wide variety of irregularities in eating behavior that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. People who have this kind of disordered eating patterns may be diagnosed with an eating disorder not otherwise specified. A change in eating patterns can also be caused by other mental disorders (e.g. clinical depression), or by factors that are generally considered to be unrelated to mental disorders (e.g. extreme home-sickness).
Some people think that disordered eating patterns that are not the result of a specific eating disorder are less serious than symptoms of disorders like anorexia nervosa. Others note that individual cases of disordered eating may involve serious problems with food and body image. Additionally, certain types of disordered eating can include symptoms from both classic cases of anorexia and bulimia, making the disordered eating as dangerous as regular eating disorders.
Some counselors are specialized in dealing with disordered eating patterns. The recognition that some people have eating problems that do not fit into the scope of regular specific eating disorders makes it possible for a larger proportion of people who have eating problems to receive help.