Our society sends many messages about how we should eat. Unfortunately, sometimes the quest to "eat healthy" becomes disordered eating. And sometimes disordered eating turns into a serious eating disorder diagnosis. Here's the breakdown to help you understand the difference.*
Another way to tell if your relationship with food has become a serious problem is to assess the extent of the problem:
Concentration and ability to focus: Do thoughts about food, body, and exercise prevent concentration or impede performance at work or school?
Social life: Is socializing restricted because it might require eating in a restaurant, consumption of foods that are scary or uncomfortable, or disruption of exercise routine?
Coping skills: Is food consumption and/or restriction used as way to manage life’s problems or cope with stressors?
Discomfort or anxiety: How much discomfort do thoughts of food and body cause? Are these thoughts hard to shake and anxiety provoking?
***This is meant to give you an idea about whether your relationship with food is problematic. Of course, this is no substitute for getting an accurate diagnosis from a mental health professional, so seek professional help if you have concerns. :)
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Anderson, Marci. (2015, February 25). Eat Right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/diseases-and-conditions/eating-disorders/what-is-disordered-eating
Gottlieb, Carrie. (2014, February 23). Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201402/disordered-eating-or-eating-disorder-what-s-the