Disordered eating is a serious issue that can turn into an actual eating disorder over time. If you feel that you have an unhealthy relationship with food, you need to see a professional that can help you. If you are constantly over eating, you may have a binge eating disorder, or your over eating could be a symptom of another issue affecting you.
For me personally, what appeared to be a disorder was actually a symptom of my Depression and PTSD. These are issues that I could not fix on my own. It became necessary for me to seek out and receive professional help. Like many people, I often felt shame in how I ate, especially when I would eat in secret. It was not uncommon for me to sneak off to the kitchen and eat canned frosting with a spoon. You might’ve found me sitting on the kitchen floor while snarfing down Nutella either by itself or spread on cookies. I have been one to eat ice cream straight out of the carton. I’ve also been one who would eat cake from the pan with a fork instead of cutting out a piece.
I too have suffered from disordered eating!
I speak and write from personal experience with disordered eating. What appeared to be a binge eating disorder was actually a symptom of something deeper. Some things you simply cannot just get over without help. I know.
Why do we develop relationships with food?
“There, there. Just let me bake you some cookies.” “Don’t cry. We’ll stop and get some ice cream, and it will all be better.”
Do these words sound familiar to you? Maybe statements that you heard as a young child? They were innocent words and very genuine actions on the part of our caregivers to express love and concern to us when we were hurting. The way they knew to do this was through comfort foods. Foods rich in fats and carbohydrates which only bring us comfort in the moment. As a result of this, food has come to be used as a special type of medicine to cure the mood that ails us. However, such patterns can become very problematic, especially if it is a habitual pattern causing excessive weight gain.
Food nourishes our bodies and gives us the energy we need to get through our day, contribute to the world around us, and be present for our loved ones. But do we really need to develop a relationship with it? Food does not return the love we have for it. A relationship with food is a one sided affair, that only serves to harm you.
What exactly is it about food that pulls us into unhealthy habits.
Well of course, food makes us feel better in the moment. But, have you ever considered why it makes us feel better in the moment? People who turn to disordered eating often do so to cope with uncomfortable emotions. We turn to food because our brains reward us for it, by releasing pleasure chemicals no different than drugs and alcohol. Scientists studying that good feeling after eating call it ingestion analgesia, literally pain relief from eating. Is it any wonder that we develop eating disorders?
Disordered eating is an epidemic in our culture. The National Eating Disorders Association reports that approximately 35 percent of “normal dieters” develop a pattern of pathological dieting. Breaking disordered eating habits before they lead to an eating disorder can be done, but you might require professional help to get over it.
Finding balance with our nutritional habits.
My friends, we have to find balance in our nutritional habits. There is absolutely no balance in disordered eating habits. At David’s Way, we want you to become the best version of you that you can be. But that does not mean we expect you to get hung up on perfection. When one gets hung up on perfection, it is just as harmful as the “Self Lovely” attitude where people expect to be accepted just as they are in an unhealthy body.
Both attitudes are extremely selfish in my opinion. The pursuit of perfection often brings about a neglect of more important things in life such as family. “Self lovely” is selfish because persisting with unhealthy living only serves to bring about heartache. Your unhealthy body will result in sickness and premature death your loved ones will have to deal with. Remember, life is never just about you!
Recognizing disordered eating in ourselves and loved ones.
One of the most common misconceptions about disordered eating is that it’s a young white woman’s disease. The truth is that disordered eating can affect any gender, race or age. In fact, it is said that men account for 25% of disordered eating cases. However, I would actually reckon it is much higher. Everywhere we turn, we can see men walking around with fat bellies.
The following are the most common physical signs of disordered eating:
- Significant fluctuations in weight.
- Stomach complaints and pain.
- Changes in bowel habits.
- Changes in menstrual regularity, including stopped or missed periods.
- Feeling dizzy, weak and/or tired.
- Changes in skin and hair (such as being dry and brittle).
- Acid-related dental problems, including cavities and erosion of enamel (caused by bulimia). (1)
The emotional signs of disordered eating include the following:
- Being preoccupied with weight, food, dieting, calories and carbohydrates to the point that eating and managing weight become a primary concern over other activities.
- Being preoccupied with body image, body size/shape, a specific part of the body and/or the number on the scale.
- Significantly limiting the repertoire of foods by restricting whole categories of food and only considering a very small number of foods safe to eat.
- Performing specific food rituals.
- Withdrawing from social eating activities. (1)
The key to changing these lifelong patterns of equating food with happiness is to first be aware. Take some time to reflect on how food was used through your life and its connection to your emotional states. Next, take some time to reflect on your own emotional states. You may keep a feeling journal and write down how you felt each day. In reflecting, you will be more aware of the connection of food to your feelings in the past and more aware of your feelings in the present.
Remember, our disordered eating is a result of having developed a lifetime pattern of using comfort foods. This pattern is not likely to change quickly. You may need professional help, and there is no shame in this. Make sure to give yourself some time to make these changes. When you are able to change your relationship with food, you are able to change your relationships with others. You just might find these newfound relationships more satisfying and healthier than ever before.
Check out our our plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
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