Disordered Eating

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In a world with so many voices telling us the “right” way to eat, it’s hard to know what is actually correct. My brain gets frazzled trying to keep up with it all. It’s just so overwhelming.

disordered eating for pinterestI want to do want is right. I don’t want to do what is wrong. My sense of morality becomes interwoven when it comes to eating.

My generation has grown up with the mentality of 1990s diets. Yeah, there were good things, too – like Boy Meets World and Saved by the Bell. Oh, and obviously Full House. But, we were also taught that carbs were bad (Atkins diet) and that we needed to cut out fat. We were told that margarine was always better than butter and that if the package said “sugar-free”, we should go for that brand. Counting calories was a good thing – the less calories, the better.

I’ve learned since that the ‘90s really messed me up as far as food goes. I naturally wanted good food, but somewhere along the way I got confused. I began to see fat as negative, carbs as negative, and even protein as negative. More on this tomorrow.

Today, we are taught better things… but from too many people. You have Paleos, Vegans, Vegetarians. You have the Gluten-Free crowd, the No-Sugar crowd, the No-Dairy crowd. You have the Eat-Mostly-Meat Texans and the other Deep-Fry-Everything Southerners. There are those who believe that the less you eat, the better. Some believe you need to eat more and more, and some even say you should eat whatever you want. You have those who still have the diet mentality – we should always be trying the next big thing to see if that one will work. There is an excess of diet pills, of protein powders, of supplements. What do we choose? Who do we listen to?

We’ve become disordered. Maybe we don’t have an eating disorder, but that doesn’t mean we’re not confused.

The most succinct information I’ve found on Disordered Eating comes from the National Eating Disorder Collaboration (NEDC) based in Australia, so this information comes directly from their website. I recommend going here to learn more. In fact, their fact sheet on disordered eating and dieting is one of the most helpful resources I’ve ever read.

NEDC defines Disordered Eating as “a disturbed and unhealthy eating pattern than can include restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals”. Examples of this might include:

 

  • Fasting or chronic restrained eating
  • Binge eating
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Unbalanced eating, such as restricting a major food group (i.e. fats or carbohydrates)
  • Laxative, diuretic, enema misuse
  • Steroid and creatine use
  • Using diet pills
  • Dieting, which is “one of the most common forms of disordered eating”

 

People with disordered eating patterns might experience some or all of these:

 

  • Fatigue and/or insomnia
  • Overeating, resulting in weight gain
  • Feelings of guilt & of failure
  • Guilt and self-disgust resulting from binge-eating, failure to stay on a diet, or gaining weight
  • May isolate themselves out of fear of social eating
  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Impaired emotions
  • Increased thoughts of suicide
  • Head and/or muscles aches
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • May develop or have an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), or OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder)

Disordered eating is, I guess you could say, the “gateway drug” to eating disorders. It can start with a simple diet. It can start with hearing too many voices and cutting out certain food groups. Have conversations about healthy eating practices – real ones – like eating and balancing fats, carbs, and proteins. Begin to talk about good fats in a positive way – avocadoes, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil, milk, yogurt. We can’t tell someone that might struggle with disordered eating that avocadoes have fat, especially if we have a negative tone about it.

Changing our perception of food to a positive one will help yourself and others. I, for one, am trying to shift my views on food. Join me in fighting against the noise surrounding what we should and should not eat. Be a positive voice for those who are struggling.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

binge eating disorder

We talked about binging and its connection to loneliness during our Loneliness Series here two months ago. But, I feel like this is, not unlike the others, an often misunderstood section of eating disorders. The pain and self-hatred that goes with anorexia and bulimia is just as strong as this one, but the physical outlook of it to others is different. Those who struggled with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) really hurt.

So, BED. What is it? Basically, Binge Eating Disorder, more common than anorexia and bulimia combined, is an eating disorder where the individual feels like they have no control over their eating. They have episodes of binging followed by guilt and embarrassment. Like bulimics, those with BED sometimes hide what they eat. They feel out of control, with no hope of breaking their binging cycle. It’s not just over-eating. It’s a neurobiological disorder (www1.bingeeatingdisorder.com), and needs to be addressed.

Here are some symptoms that will help us understand a bit more:

 

–          Binging at least once a week for a period of three months or more

–          Can occur in those who have a normal weight and those who are over-weight, including obese

–          Feeling loss of self-control over eating during a binge

–          Feeling loss of self-control over the amount of food you eat during a binge

–          When binge eating, you are eating very fast, eating beyond fullness, and/or eating a lot even if you’re not hungry

–          Feeling distress/guilt after binging

–          Eating alone as an attempt to hide how much you are eating

–          Eating more than most people would under the same circumstances

–          Don’t usually resort to over-exercising or purging

anorexia-2Many people with BED got there for a reason, and with many, there is something in their body or brain function that impairs food intake regulation and increases cravings. There’s still a lot of research to be done to find out the exact cause of this eating disorder, and as I’ve said before, it has only been recognized as a distinct eating disorder for three years. But, the recognition of this particular disorder means that hope and healing are more available now than ever before.

I’m willing to bet that for someone reading this post today, you can relate to some of these symptoms. Maybe all of them. My heart goes out to you. Binge eating is an emotionally painful cycle and for those with BED, that is even more true.

This Friday, I’m going to post on “Disordered Eating and Binging Struggles”, which I hope will give you hope and encouragement. But if you feel like you need help, I want to give you some suggestions for now:

What to Do NOW if You Think You May Have Binge Eating Disorder

 

1)      Talk to someone. Make sure it is someone who will not make you feel bad – who will be understanding.  Hopefully that can be your parent, a spouse, a friend. You may want to start out calling a helpline. Google one and make the call. Externalize so that you don’t have to carry the burden alone.

 

2)      Start a conversation with your doctor/nurse. They are there to help you and they should understand that BED is a legitimate eating disorder.

 

3)      Begin the journey of replacing food with something else enjoyable – something that won’t make you feel guilty. Start with an “Anti-Binge” list. I use mine often, and now I can even recognize when I need to read or journal without thinking about the pain I’m trying to destroy.

 

4)      Try to forgive yourself. You are not a bad person just because you binge. Hold on to that truth.

As with all the eating disorders, you are not alone. It’s estimated that almost 3 million Americans struggle with Binge Eating disorder right now. You may feel alone, you may even feel like you are in the darkest depths of loneliness, but you are not. And that is something to always, always remember.

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References

www1.bingeeatingdisorder.com/