EDNOS: Deadliest Eating Disorder Is Quietly the Most Common

EDNOS Sufferers Aren't Just Teenagers, But Adults Too

"I could sustain myself and I wouldn't be hungry," she said. "I would be at the gym for two or three hours every day after only eating a cheese stick and maybe nothing that day, and then I also would purge too."

EDNOS can be tricky to diagnose because it can include so many behaviors -- and not everyone suffering from EDNOS expresses all of them.

For 23-year-old Ali, once an Ivy League softball pitcher, EDNOS wasn't triggered by a desire to lose weight. When a shoulder injury sidelined her during college, Ali said she became obsessed with getting back on the field, and turned to extremely rigid diet rules and exercise in an effort to rebuild her strength.

"I had this idea that if I controlled [what I ate] I could never get hurt again," she said.

Ali said she became infatuated with healthy "super foods," or so-called clean, non-processed foods. She stuck to severely strict diet rules, including calorie counting.

"I ate for fuel," she said. "I didn't eat what I enjoyed. I ate what I needed for a workout, a little bit of quality carb and a protein. It was that specific."

Ali stopped seeing friends, stopped dating and worked out constantly. She even began carrying around her own cooler stocked with meals she had pre-measured.

"It was planning every single meal, portioning, measuring, so that I had just too not too much, not too little, just the right amount of the right foods, nothing else," she said. "If it wasn't the right food, I couldn't have it."

EDNOS: Warning Signs and Symptoms

But it backfired. Ali said she stopped menstruating. She lost her ability to concentrate, frequently fainted and had night sweats as her body struggled to warm itself.

"I was just scared," she said. "I didn't know what was happening. I stood up to hand in an exam and face-planted in front of a room full of people."

Still, Ali said she struggled with the idea of having an eating disorder because she didn't fit the mold for anorexia or bulimia. Eventually she realized she needed to get help.

"I had dropped so much weight and lost so much power, I couldn't be what I was before," she said. "I gave myself no shot, but I couldn't see it then."

Ali and Taylor are both undergoing treatment at The Renfrew Center. At Renfrew, the philosophy is simple: The first necessity is to get the patients eating well and restore physical health. Then the long term focus is on the psyche -- finding the root of the destructive thoughts.

We have to eat at treatment so I always bring a sweatshirt so you can't see my bloating after meals," Taylor said. "Yeah, it's still a part of the body image that I see."

At Renfrew, numbers are not allowed: No calorie counting, no scales and no talk of pounds. It's a change that brings anxiety to many patients, including Taylor, who said she used to weigh herself seven to 14 times a day.

Not just college-aged girls are here, but grown women too.

Chloe, a 36-year-old assistant professor and mother of three young children, said she went back and forth between binging and restricting, starting when she was 12.

"I tried to purge and I was totally unsuccessful, and I remember writing really bad poetry about trying to stick a toothbrush down my throat and making my throat bleed."

Chloe, once an aspiring dancer, said she first turned to food to numb emotional pain, but as she became an adult, her eating disorder became about having control of her body.

WATCH: Chloe's Story, Battling EDNOS

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