What Is Disordered Eating?

There is an obsession in our culture with body size, weight, diet and exercise. Unfortunately this has led many down a road of disordered eating. Research suggests that up to 50 percent of the population show signs and symptoms of disordered relationships with food, body, and exercise. Clinical eating disorders are estimated to be around 1 to 3 percent of the general population. Do you see where I am getting at?

Disordered eating patterns need to be taken seriously. They can be problematic if not. An individual with disordered eating patterns engages in some of the same behavior as those with clinically diagnosed eating disorders. It is at a lesser frequency or lower level of severity but it is still very important not to ignore. 

When disordered eating patterns aren't addressed it could lead to depression or anxiety. Some of the more harsh symptoms of disordered eating may include food restriction, binge eating, and purging. Purging could include self induced vomiting, excessive exercise, and the use of diet pills or laxatives.

When I meet an individual who may have had a bad relationship with food in the past I always start slow. One of the first things I address is creating a better self image since self image issues can be a trigger for most. Issues with your body shape and weight can weigh on you and lead you down a path of disordered eating. I will see this happen when someone's weight falls within a healthy range but they continue to feel they are overweight. This attitude could lead to an excessive or rigid exercise routine. I've seen people play it off as if they are practicing self discipline. But it is a mask they wear to hide hours spent in they gym, avoiding social situations, and ignoring family events. This approach could go with obsessive calorie counting too. I often see people who have anxiety about certain foods or food groups because it will 'make me fat'. The process of rigid eating, only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times and refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home is the start to destructive patterns of eating.

Learning how to over come disordered eating patterns is a process.

Here are 4 helpful tips to help you or anyone you know get through this difficult obstacle.

1. Do your best to avoid fad diets. Diets are typically restrictive in some form or fashion in both quantity or variety. Restriction at high levels leads to a feeling of deprivation and binge eating could follow that feeling. I have always preached to be more inclusive than exclusive. Moderation is a more healthier long term approach.
2. Have a healthy limit on exercise and always do physical activities that you enjoy. When exercise becomes a chore then it is time to look into other means of partaking in physical activity. 
3. No more negative self body talk. Even simple comments pointing out a proposed flaw of yours could lead to a downward spiral. Be mindful of critical talk about yourself or your body.
4. Put the scale away until you have a better relationship with food.