Eat clean & move more: sounds simple right?
Well, yes & no. Being healthy involves a variety of behaviors and choices, including some that may seem counter-intuitive. It’s important to try to give our bodies the best we can, but equally important that we stay mentally healthy while we do it. With healthy eating & exercise, normally healthy endeavors can turn into unhealthy obsessions given the right circumstances.
Eating disorders have a broad range: it’s not just anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. You do not need to lose or gain weight to have an eating disorder. You do not need to be obsessed with your body image to have an eating disorder. E.D.’s are qualified as having an “unhealthy, disordered relationship with food (too much, too little, or very specific kinds) & are characterized by stress, anxiety & gaining (or losing) control over the body”. It’s about behavior: not outward symptoms. Many people go undiagnosed because we tend to focus heavily on visual signs and not enough on behavioral cues.
It’s tough to imagine, but you CAN be too “healthy”. Orthorexia (Healthy Diet Obsession) is more and more common, and it’s hard to diagnose people who suffer.
If you’re a health nut, how can you tell the difference between orthorexia & just doing what’s best for your body?
Orthorexia becomes a problem when food becomes a source not just of nutrition, but of virtue or self-worth, when eating “bad” food implies that one is a bad person, and when the diet becomes a source of either self-esteem or, conversely, guilt and self-loathing.
Possible Signs of Orthorexia (particularly if 4 or more apply. If they all apply, you may be suffering)
Commitment and adherence to a diet can be warranted for the seriously overweight, even to the point of altering their lifestyle. But, “isn’t it also important in life to have some spontaneity, some enjoyment?”
First, lemme explain binge eating disorder to those who might not be familiar with the differences between an occasional binge and a disorder.
B.E.D. is a compulsive eating disorder, in which a person seemingly eats uncontrollably to deal with stress or anxiety. To classify as a disorder, it must happen regularly and feels uncontrollable when it does. There’s usually a shame involved: typically people hide their binges (it’s not a random night when you eat a little too much after dinner). Binge eating most commonly occurs when users are on a diet or are watching their intakes carefully OR are dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety (a sudden change in their routine can count as well). Binge eaters often eat when they’re not hungry and well beyond the point where they feel full or uncomfortable. Some may not even be aware of what they are eating - in a trance like state.
Typically, the worse a binge eater feels about themselves, the worse their binging gets. The worse their binging gets, the worse they feel about themselves. It can be a vicious cycle, where food becomes a temporary coping mechanism that eventually makes the problem worse.
Behavioral symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating
- Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food
- Eating even when you’re full
- Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret
- Eating normally around others, but gorging when you’re alone
- Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes
Emotional symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating
- Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating
- Embarrassment over how much you’re eating
- Feeling numb while bingeing—like you’re not really there or you’re on auto-pilot.
- Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat
- Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after overeating
Stress can be apparent and not-so apparent, and we all deal with it differently. Bingeing is a coping mechanism, which means it’s being used to address other issues you’re having. So not only do you need to address the bingeing: you need to address the issues that are triggering binges.
Questions To Ask Yourself
1. What triggers usually precipitate a binge? Stresses, events, feelings etc.
2. What other mechanisms can you employ to deal with that stress? Talking, venting, exercise, meditation, massage etc.
3. What can you do to minimize binge damage? Food in the house (do you typically binge on the same foods, or ANY foods), having someone around, leaving your home, etc.
To deal with binging disorders, most people would recommend treatment, therapy, group support, and a conscious effort to reduce stress in other areas of your life. You might need to talk to someone: if you have a school you can start there (most have resources available to students), or you can try the community or get a referral from your doctor. Talking tends to help, so even if you don’t seek treatment from a doctor, finding a supportive ear can do wonders for you. In the online world, there are tons of support groups, blogs and help lines if you want to take that route as well.
Often people are hesitant to seek treatment (there’s a lot of stigma), but there’s no need for it. Taking care of your mental health, stress & identifying when you need help is the sign of a really strong person (and a key to success - the most successful people know to ask for help when they need it). Think about it this way: if more people took advantage of the help available to them, the world would be a better place. When people want to make a healthy, fitness lifestyle change, they hire trainers, buy expensive equipment, and surround themselves with like minded individuals to help them reach their goals. The same attitude should be taken when it comes to our mental health/well-being. Most counselors are highly trained, many have dealt with their own issues with binge eating, and they CAN offer great support and help if you’re open to it. They give you the tools you need to handle it on your own when you’re ready.
If you think you might have a bingeing problem, this is a pretty solid list of tips that can get you going in the right direction.
Take care and PLEASE talk to someone if you get a chance (even to discuss other treatment options/advice - it’s empowering). It’s important to seek professional advice: these tips are simply tools you can use to get you moving in the right direction. There’s no shame in getting informed: you can only benefit from it.
Source & Fab Resource: http://helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm
Myth # 4: Eating disorders aren’t really that dangerous.
Eating disorders, which INCLUDE extreme dieting on and off, can lead to irreversible and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease, bone loss, stunted growth, infertility, and kidney damage.
Even short term diets, on and off, can mess up your hormones, cause calcium & bone loss, and can heighten certain cancer risks. For life.
Most symptoms diminish with treatment. There is hope & possible reversal for most issues related to ED. The key is early treatment & continual support.
If you’re suffering, there is help. If you know someone suffering, get help TO help.
Eating disorders are not glamorous. But they are treatable. I promise.