What is Disordered Eating?

Exploring Disordered Eating

For people who experience disordered eating, food might feel like a chain. Instead of fulfilling them, it holds them in place. Disordered eating can create a prison. A claustrophobic cell that confines them to mental and emotional anguish. One might think, “What’s the big deal? It’s only food.” But for a disordered eater, it does not feel so simple.

In this blog, Riverwalk Recovery Center surveys the following topics:

  • What is disordered eating?
  • Is disordered eating an eating disorder?
  • Could disordered eating be a symptom of a deeper issue?
  • What treatment options exist for disordered eating?
  • Where can I get more information about disordered eating?

What Is Disordered Eating?

Think of “disordered eating” as an umbrella term. Its range might include something as simple as diet restrictions. Or disordered eating might venture into compelling oneself to vomit. Disordered eating represents a lack of consistency in one’s relationship with food. If any of this sounds familiar, please keep reading. Treatment options can help. But maybe you’ve come here because of someone you care about.

Find a partial list of symptoms here:

  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Labelling certain foods as “good” or “bad”
  • Expressions of guilt or shame after eating
  • Rigidly restricting calories
  • Uncontrollably eating large amounts of food

Is Disordered Eating An Eating Disorder?

Symptoms like these can feel terrifying. Someone going through this might feel alone. They might have the sense that no one understands them. However, we must have compassion and understanding. The presence of these symptoms alone does not constitute an eating disorder. Eating disorders present much narrower diagnostic criteria.

The above actions give us examples of disordered eating behaviors (DEBs). Specific DEBs might indicate the presence of a particular eating disorder. Behind each behavior lies an internal battle. Those struggling with these issues have problems well beyond food.

A Symptom Of A Deeper Issue?

Deeper issues might manifest in this behavior. We must remember not to think of the manifestation as a moral failing. These behaviors tell us that someone feels hurt. External actions show us a little bit of someone’s internal world. It may look like a lack of restraint. But in fact, the behavior might represent trauma, abuse, mental illness, or automatic thoughts. We only see behavior. We do not see what happens inside of a person.

Disordered eating refers to behaviors. Actions. Things a person does that have become visible to others. But the term eating disorders define psychological maladies. We can observe this type of behavior. We cannot observe what goes on in another person’s mind.

This explains why we must put judgment aside. We do not have all the knowledge of another person’s thoughts. Therefore, we should assume a posture of openness and availability. We should assume that we know nothing about what another person experiences. From here, we might move into a position to help.

What Are Some Examples Of Specific Eating Disorders?

We began by speaking about eating disorders in general. It encompasses a variety of irregular behaviors. Now, we dive a little deeper. We more from a general discussion into specific eating disorders.

Some examples of eating disorders include:

  • Anorexia Nervosa: Severe diet restriction, often to the point of starvation
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Consuming large amounts of food and then forcing oneself to vomit (“binging and purging”)
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Uncontrollably eating too much food in too little time
  • Orthorexia: An unhealthy obsession with “healthy” eating
  • Pica: Eating non-edible items
  • Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder: A lack of proper eating to the point of malnourishment. Unlike anorexia, does not involve concerns about weight.
  • Other Specified Feeding Or Eating Disorder: Causes stress or discomfort but does not meet the criteria of another disorder

What Treatment Options Exist For Disordered Eating?

Riverwalk Recovery Center hopes you have found this information helpful. However, one must not stop with information. Treatment options exist for disordered eating. If you found this page, you came for a reason. Continue reading to find out more about getting help.

A person living with an eating disorder may need medical attention. Eating disorders can leave the body undernourished. In many cases, someone might become dehydrated. Treatment can teach proper nutrition guidelines. But most of all, treatment considers a client’s mental wellbeing. The illness originates in the mind. Therapy helps clients confront unaddressed trauma, mental illness, past abuse, or other internal struggles.

Where Can I Get More Information?

Please accept Riverwalk’s gratitude. We feel privileged that you read this much about a difficult subject. Remember that hope exists. An eating disorder need not become a lifetime affliction. Just because someone struggles today does not mean they must struggle forever.

If you or someone that you love has a difficult relationship with eating, give Riverwalk a deeper look. Call or email us now for more information.

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