Societal pressures have created a toxic environment for individuals with regard to their nutrition, especially with regard to women. We are bombarded by trendy diets and Instagram challenges to show how skinny we can be and if we aren't we should be ashamed. However, to have feelings of guilt and shame for being hungry or for wanting to eating carbs is like feeling guilty for needing breathe air. Our basic human needs are now a basis of shame and ridicule and it is about time to refuse to feel guilty - You are allowed to eat!
So, what happens when we become obsessed with this culture and where do we differentiate disordered eating and eating disorders? First, we need to understand what the normal standard is.
Standard eating habits are when an individual sensibly consumes food when they are hungry and is able to stop when they are full. Additionally, the individual incorporates a variety of foods into their diet. Now, under this definition, many people who consider themselves to have a terrific relationship with food, may be classified as “disordered eaters”: maybe they eat when they’re bored, have the same thing for lunch daily, or possibly cut out a main food group (i.e. carbs), etc. Societal pressures, as well as fascinations with weight loss and exercise, may lead individuals to alter their food intake. Some may say "this works for me". More so, It does not interfere with their lives; they are able to find food they’re comfortable with eating at any many restaurants and they do not feel overwhelmed to a point where they want to change their habits. For others, this way of eating can be a precursor to developing an eating disorder.
There are three critical factors to look for when wondering if someone has a disorder. Behaviors, obsession, and functionality that will let your nutritionists, dietician, or yourself know where your habits lay.
When an individual is struggling with an eating disorder, they generally engage in multiple behaviors. These behaviors could involve food, body image, and their mood. The level of obsession around eating thoughts and behaviors can distinguish disordered eating from an eating disorder.
What are eating disorders? Well, the most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa, and each disorder presents differently and they all have long term consequences to your body.
Anorexia is characterized by a distorted body image along with an unwarranted fear of being overweight. These individuals may not only try to starve themselves but they might try to rid their bodies of any caloric intake they consumed by self-induced vomiting, diuretics, laxatives, and heavy exercise regimes.
Bulimia nervosa involves distortion of one's body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression/guilt and self-induced vomiting, fasting.
Binge Eating Disorder (more commonly known as BED) is characterized by repeated episodes of uncontrolled intake of large amounts of food in a short period of time. These binging episodes are followed by feelings of guilt and emotional distress. Having at least three of these symptoms while binging is apparent in BED:
• Eating until you are uncomfortably full
• Eating quicker than normal
• Eating a large consumption of food when not hungry
• You find yourself eating alone because of embarrassment
• Feeling ashamed, depressed, or guilty after the episode
So what is the difference between having a eating disorder and having disordered eating?
What Is Disordered Eating?
Disordered eating is not an "eating disorder"; however, it is an abnormal behavior that can possibly become dangerous. Disordered eating occurs when individuals eat for other reasons than hunger, performance nutrition, or optimal nutrition. Individuals may eat when they are bored/stressed, feed their emotions, skip meals, engage in binging/purging, may leave out major food groups, or eat the same thing every day.
Although both disordered eating and eating disorders are abnormal, eating disorders have very specific diagnostic criteria outlining frequent and severe behaviors.
Many of the individuals demonstrate problematic or disordered relationships with food, body, and exercise. Individuals may count calories, over-exercise, exercise solely to lose weight, and cringe at the sight of skin rolls, dimples on legs/arms, and cellulite. What we must remember is that these are normal and it is time to start normalizing bodies of all shapes and sizes. Perfect bodies to not exist. Everyone is built differently and require different amounts of nutrients to maintain homeostasis for THEIR body and activity level.