What’s the difference between disordered eating and an eating disorder? It’s a fine line. It’s not a label of who you are, but it does bring awareness to the majority of the population who don’t know how to eat and have an unhealthy relationship with food. What, you may ask, is the determining factor between an eating disorder and disordered eating? How much these thoughts control you, your level of obsession with food, exercise, thoughts and behaviours.
Eating disorders that are diagnosed are labeled as as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, overeating. It excludes other types of disordered eating such as the behaviours listed below.
Signs of disordered eating:
- Frequent dieting
- Rituals and routines that surround food and exercise
- Anxiety around certain foods
- Skipping meals
- Food guilt
- Labelling foods as good or bad
- Obsessive thoughts around food, weight, and body image
- Negative impact on quality of life
- Excessive exercise & food restriction (especially to make up for “bad foods” consumed)
The above can all be the precursor to an eating disorder.
The lack of understanding comes from society and the abundance of information out there. I am here to tell you, eating well can be really simple. It takes some mental strength and willpower to forget all you have learned, forget your fears about foods, the diets you have tried and what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and instead, listen and trust your body. Do the research on what works and what doesn’t, because the truth is – everyone is unique. But, let’s talk about some general guidelines to follow (*notice I didn’t say ‘rules’ to follow, because these are just that, guidelines with no set right/wrong). It is always good to consult with a nutritionist for a more specific plan.
Food is fuel. I say this all the time because so many people choose to believe that calories are bad, high fat foods will make you fat, and eating less means weight loss. When in fact, this isn’t the case. Calories are energy we burn energy all day just by breathing, we need calories.
Let’s talk ‘how to’s’ on eating properly.
- Start your day with breakfast
- 3 meals + 1-2 snacks/ day
- 2-3 hours between each meal
- Put your food on a plate (i.e do not eat out of a bag)
- Make sure you have protein + fat + fibre at each meal
- Take account quality vs. quantity of foods
- Focus on whole foods vs. low fat/ low calorie
- Drink at least 2 litres of water/ day
- Eliminate nighttime eating/ emotional based eating
Many people suffer with disordered eating but do not even realize it. Disordered eating can be difficult to detect since each persons patterns are unique and may not be displayed at all times. It impacts both mental and physical health, to a point of real danger. These consequences include a greater risk of obesity and eating disorders, bone loss, digestive disturbances, low heart rate and blood pressure, increased anxiety and depression and social isolation.
Consulting with a nutritionist allows you to set a plan in motion specific to what your unique needs are.