Dieting: Socially Acceptable Disordered Eating

Dieting is disordered eating. It's a fine (often overlapping) line away from an eating disorder and research shows it's often a huge contributing factor to developing a full blown eating disorder. Our diet obsessed culture is screwing up our relationships with food and ourselves on such a massive scale that it’s made disordered eating, not only socially acceptable but expected and normal. We’re taught that happiness with ourselves and our bodies requires being super controlled with what goes in our mouth, even when it comes at a huge emotional and physical cost. Disordered Eating Defined The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-Text Revision) defines disordered eating as "a wide range of irregular eating behaviors that do not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder." Symptoms of Disordered Eating Signs and symptoms of disordered eating may include, but are not limited to: Chronic yo-yo dieting Frequent weight fluctuations Extremely rigid and unhealthy food and exercise regime Feelings of guilt and shame when unable to maintain food and/or exercise habits Pre-occupation with food, body and exercise that causes distress and has a negative impact on quality of life Compulsive or emotionally-driven eating Use of compensatory measures, such as exercise, severe food restriction, and even purging or laxative use to "make up for" food consumed Fasting or chronic restrained eating, skipping meals Binge eating Restrictive dieting Unbalanced eating (e.g. restricting a major food group such as ‘fatty’ foods or carbohydrates) Laxative, diuretic, enema misuse Using diet pills Harm Caused by Disordered Eating Disordered eating is so normal that many people either minimize or don’t even realize the impact it has on their mental and physical health. Harmful consequences can include a greater risk of obesity and eating disorders, bone loss, gastrointestinal disturbances, electrolyte and fluid imbalances, low heart rate and blood pressure, increased anxiety and depression, and social isolation. Disordered eating is a serious concern that’s hard to address because dieting has become such an ordinary, commonplace part of our culture. Dieting has made the abnormal, acceptable. It’s made dysfunction, something to celebrate. It made punishing ourselves part of every day life. But those things are not normal. Restricting foods and entire food groups is not a normal way for humans to live. Feeling guilt and shame around the things we choose to put in our mouths is not normal. Eating until we’re sick is not normal. Purposely not allowing ourselves to eat when we’re actually hungry is not normal. But because diet culture has made it acceptable and expected, we never talk about the significant physical, emotional and mental stress it causes. If you have any concerns that you may have disordered eating patterns or an eating disorder, click here for a helpful screening tool. Also, feel free to drop me an email ( ....and talk to your doctor. Or click here to read how Dieting Made Me Bulimic.

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