By Lauren Harding, Recovery Coach

Disordered eating is NOT “less serious” than an eating disorder. And BOTH are deserving of support and treatment. Eating disorders are a pattern of behavioral, physical and psychological signs and symptoms that fit into the specific criteria outlined by the DSM. Disordered eating is a pattern of behavioral, physical and psychological signs and symptoms that do not clearly fit into a diagnosis outlined in the DSM. Disordered eating may be harder to detect due to a society that is obsessed with the pursuit of “wellness” and that celebrates disordered eating behaviors.

It is no surprise that research suggests up to 50% of the population in the United States demonstrates problematic or disordered relationships with food, the body, and exercise. Another study found that 75% of women fit the criteria for eating disorder behaviors. Many people struggle with disordered eating at some point in their lives. And most people who do struggle with eating disorders don’t fit into a perfect diagnostic box. Understanding the difference between being health conscious and having an eating disorder may be difficult to navigate, but regardless of any struggle with food and the body, you deserve help. The treatment of disordered eating and eating disorders is most effective when addressed early. It is important to recognize the signs of disordered eating and to get help from a medical professional BEFORE the problem gets worse.

So how do you know if you should get help from a professional? Well, if that is even a question in the first place- you should probably seek out some type of support. But here are a few more questions to ask yourself:

  1. Has the quality of your life decreased as a result of your focus on your diet or on your body?
  2. Is the nutritional value of a meal more important than the pleasure you receive from eating it?
  3. Do you limit foods you used to enjoy?
  4. Do you ever feel out of control when eating and extremely guilty after you eat?
  5. Does your self-worth increase when you eat “healthy?”
  6. Do you try to compensate for food you have eaten to affect your weight or shape?
  7. Do you feel that you focus too much on a number on the scale?
  8. Do you spend more than 20% of your day thinking about food or planning your meals?
  9. Do you consistently use food as a coping skill to comfort yourself, even when you are not hungry?
  10. Do you avoid certain social situations as a result of food or how you feel about your body?

There are three key factors to considering your relationship with food and your body. Ask yourself about your specific BEHAVIORS, your level of OBSESSION, and your overall FUNCTIONALITY.

If you have more questions or feel like you could use some support in healing your relationship with food and your body, schedule a time to meet with Northside’s eating disorder recovery coach.

Northside Mental Health Site Admin

Northside Mental Health Site Admin