Eating disorders are not new. Romans would eat, and then vomit, and eat some more. It was a sign of status of the wealthy and elite. The ancient Egyptians would consume emetics to purge themselves of diseases they thought came from foods that they ate (1,2).
Morbid hunger was first described in the 5th century as a ravenous appetite, absence of chewing, and vomiting. Forms of eating disorders in the Middle Ages were referred to as anorexia mirabilis, meaning loss of appetite due to a miracle. Saint Catherine of Siena, who lived in the 14th century, starved herself for religious fulfillment. She would force herself to vomit as punishment for breaking her vows. Religious women were considered holy for fasting. Later on in history, however, fasting was considered to be inspired by the devil and efforts were made to discourage this type of behavior (1,2). "