Disordered eating is not a diagnosis but a phrase used to describe a range of problematic eating behaviors. The signs and symptoms of disordered eating are similar to those of an eating disorder, although they will vary with frequency and severity. Symptoms of disordered eating includes:
- Frequent dieting or obsessive calorie counting
- Rigid food restriction or skipping meals
- Feeling anxiety, guilt or shame about certain foods or food in general
- Obsessive exercising, or exercise to “punish” for overeating
- Binging and/or purging
- Self-worth or self-esteem because of your weight or body shape and weight
- Feeling out of control around food
While disordered eating may not result in the extreme symptoms seen in a diagnosable eating disorder, it has the potential to negatively impact a person’s life. For example, someone with disordered eating may miss work, school or personal events because of anxiety or discomfort around food, or because of an obsessive exercise routine. Their obsession with food and exercise may affect their ability to focus or concentrate, impacting their performance at work or school.
Disordered eating can also take a mental and physical toll on a person. Negative self-thinking can impact their mental health, and their poor eating habits can affect them physically, such as their cardiovascular and intestinal health. Disordered eating also puts the individual at high risk for developing an eating disorder.
What causes people to engage in harmful eating habits can be complex, and vary per the individual. Individual therapy can help people examine their past to understand what led to these behaviors and learn to accept and love themselves as they are. You can also work together with a therapist to create healthier habits and develop coping mechanisms for difficult cues or triggers.
If you’re struggling with disordered eating and need support and guidance, please reach out to schedule a free 15-minute consultation.