Disordered Eating: Not Too Much, Not Too Little, But Not Just Right Either
What does it mean when your relationship with food isn’t clinically defined as excessive, or too restrictive, yet something still feels off?
Sometimes the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders leaves out struggles that have all the hallmarks of a disordered way of eating. Maybe how, when, and why you eat are hard to talk about; perhaps you feel too defensive, when someone suggests that something might be wrong.
How can you tell if your eating habits aren’t quite right?
Disordered Eating Patterns
Disordered eating doesn’t look the same in every case; however, there is one commonality found in most painful relationships to food: eating is a source of stress. Disordered eating can mean excessive dieting, eating when you’re not hungry, eating secretly, skipping meals, or eating over-processed, convenient foods for comfort.
Maybe you count calories too much, or you eat in order to feel better. It’s possible what you’re doing isn’t quite binge eating, but after denying yourself food for a time, you overindulge. You feel guilty and ashamed when the eating is finished.
In cases of disordered eating, food is causing or prolonging emotional injury. You think about food all the time. Rather than enjoying your friends or focusing on your work, you’re thinking about when you can eat next. When you look in the mirror, instead of seeing yourself as beautiful, you see all the things you’ve eaten that day. Why do I have to be this way, you might think. If only I was five pounds lighter. If only I had more self-control.
Ultimately, food has more power in your life than you want it to.
What can you do to start feeling better about eating?
Changing how you feel when you eat is really difficult. It’s not just a question of what kinds of food you should buy at the grocery store; getting better means learning to see yourself in a different light. Sometimes the change can feel like a battle.
Disordered eating can be as hard to wade through as more recognizable forms of addiction, like drinking or smoking. You’ll have to learn how to come to terms with, and manage emotions, you’ve been viewing through the constricting lens of eating for a long time.
One of the most rewarding steps you can take toward being happier at the
dinner table—and away from it—is to stop condemning yourself. When you regret something you ate, or a meal you skipped, and you think, “I’m a failure,” or “I’m never going to change,” recognize those thoughts. Try to guide yourself toward more realistic, situational thinking like, “I regret eating when I wasn’t hungry,” or “that didn’t feel good.”
Once you stop getting so down on yourself, food begins to lose its power over you. You’ll learn to really believe that the foods you eat don’t define you, and in turn, you’ll find that you feel less emotionally compelled to quash your feelings with food, or to eat in secret.
Most of all, try to recognize how you feel before you eat, or what you tell yourself afterward. What is it about the way you think about food that’s harming you so much? When you pay attention to your thought process, you might gain important insight into distorted thinking you didn’t even know existed.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Disordered eating patterns are gaining a lot of attention in the health field, which tells you that you’re far from alone in the experience of ashamed eating. With a therapist, or in a support group, you can more easily heal wounds that you’re having a hard time with on your own.
If you are ready to take that first step, our therapists in Houston, TX can help you overcome disordered eating
If you’re tired of struggling with binge eating or disordered eating of any kind and would like additional support, our therapists can help. We specialize in helping women and men overcome binge eating, emotional eating and disordered eating and find a new freedom in their relationship with food and themselves. Our services include:
- Individual Therapy – binge eating and disordered eating are often symptoms of an imbalance, unmet need or habit that developed as a coping strategy. Therapy can help you identify your unique relationship with food and ways to heal and overcome binge eating and disordered eating.
- Make Peace with Food Program – this is a 12-week structured program to help you learn strategies to manage root issues triggering binge eating and disordered eating behaviors. The emphasis in this program is healing from within and creating a new relationship with food, your body, and your self.
- Take our binge eating quiz and find out if binge eating is a concern for you or our intuitive eating quiz to find out what areas you may need to work on to become an intuitive eater.
Read more about binge eating disorder.
Read more about disordered eating.
Schedule an appointment online to get started today.
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