What is Disordered Eating?
According to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, the word disordered means "not functioning in a normal healthy way". So what is disordered eating? Let's dive in! :)
Eating becomes disordered when you construct rules around food that you tell yourself you must follow.
Some examples of this mentality can be:
^for more on this see ImmaEATthat's amazing article here!
Ask yourself, "Is this REALLY increasing my life quality?". Spoiler alert: it's not.
Do you find yourself having to explain your "odd" food habits or preferences? Do you notice anxiety or guilt around certain foods? I would encourage you to really seek out a non-diet dietician and seek to bring more freedom into your relationship with food.
What does food freedom look like?? Great questionnn! ;)
Normalized, non-disordered eating is when one mindfully consumes food when hungry and is able to stop when full. Yet, are also okay when they overeat which is also a part of normal eating. (ie intuitive eating)
GUESS WHAT?! You can live a healthy life without living within dieting and food rules!! You don’t have to worry and stress about food and exercise.
Your body is smarter than you think.
Our society, especially toward us women, is constantly bombarding us with the message that we must seek control over exercise and what food goes into our bodies. However, I have learned from medical doctors and certified nutritionists that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When I started recovery from anorexia, I met with a nutritionist twice a week for an hour at each appointment. There, she gave me a meal plan of nutrition to restore my body.
Having heard from society/diet culture my whole life, I thought that fruits and veggies were the most important aspect of nutrition. However, my nutritionist taught me that it is absolutely imperative that our bodies receive a balance of protein, fats, and carbs/grains.
Wow, I was stunned. I had heard so many messages of needing to cut out carbs/grains and finding the low-fat or low-calorie option. THIS IS SO FALSE. Why we are taught the complete opposite is beyond me. Who wants to live chained to that kind of life?? Um not me.
I want to live the abundant life where I can enjoy a pizza the way it comes and order a fun Starbucks latte without feeling the pressure to get it “skinny” or sugar free. (whatever the heck that means).
I learned a new and improved way to look at food. My nutritionist gave me a packet that had pages for what counted for proteins (bacon, chicken, beef, peanut butter etc.), carbs/grains (bread, tortillas, farro, rice, beans etc), and fats (nutella, nuts, whipped cream, pumpkin seeds, avocado, hummus etc.). I could choose any of those options and at the amount that I needed for my body (in recovery you are told how much to eat because you need the guidance).
Before meeting with a nutritionist, I had the mindset that there were “good foods” and “bad foods” and “healthy foods” and “unhealthy foods”. However, THIS IS FALSE TOO.
There is no unhealthy food and there is no bad food. Maybe you’re laughing and thinking to yourself, “Maybe that works for you, but it won’t work for me.” Or maybe you just don’t believe me. Read up on it here: and here.
Additionally, fats like avocado, Nutella, etc. deliver vitamin D to your bones!! So it actually strengthens your bones! I often hear people make comments like, "I'm trying to be good and not eat ___" or "___ is unhealthy". Both of theses opinions are false and not medically or scientifically proven. A food does not make you bad or good (it's what is in the INSIDE that matters--see Matthew 15:11). Next time you feel bad about eating something, reframe it as the fact that you are actually delivering Vitamin D and strengthening your bones!!
We see there is an increase of societally accepted diets such as the gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free diets (these are diets because they restrict foods and food groups…unless of course you have an actual allergy or are living this way due to religion but often times extreme disordered eating and eating disorders disguise themselves in these diets because they are a socially accepted (and encouraged) way to live restrictively…not the abundant life!)
It’s interesting because while our society has increased the push to “cut out”, diet, and “eat healthy or clean”, we have actually seen a decrease in vitamins and nutrients our body needs. Why? Because by cutting these things out, your body is lacking things that it needs. More people are having vitamin d deficiencies (dangerous and could lead to stress fractures) because they are restricting fats from their diet. Eating a balance of carbs, proteins, and fats gives your body the NUTRITION and energy that it needs and actually helps it to stay at its natural set point (often why many people claim to be so tired).
Rather than living with the mindset of good/healthy foods and bad/unhealthy foods, I learned that the best way to live according to nutritionists, is to eat all foods. All foods fit in balance, moderation, and variety. There are multiple reasons for this.
First, the diet industry is a billion-dollar industry. Why, you ask? Because they don’t work. It’s the one industry that convinces you that it’s completely your fault when it fails. Plot twist: it’s not your fault. It’s the way your body is made. Your body doesn’t want to live in this fight or flight, starvation, or restrictive way. When you live in a way that cuts out food groups, your body will begin to crave it as well as other things in a more extreme way. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Um, I’M LACKING HERE SOS!”. For example, when I was cutting out carbs, I had great cravings for them and for sugar. The reason why is because when you cut out carbs, your body is screaming to you that it’s lacking nutrition and needs energy (carbs=energy) so it goes to the quickest form of energy (saying SOS SOS LISTEN TO ME) which is sugar/glucose. So, when you do eat sugar or carbs your body will turn on this great desire to binge on it because it’s been starving from it for so long.
You see, when you cut foods out, your body will want to make up for lost time (as well as your taste buds). This is why the “cheat day” mentality is also really unhelpful. When this happens, your body is in a SOS mode and so are your taste buds. Once you allow yourself that “cheat day”, you want to eat way more than you would have if you ate it in moderation throughout the week.
When you eat a balance of proteins, fats, and carbs, your body is digesting in the most effective way.
As you can see in this chart, by eating all food groups, you will feel more satisfied for longer. Ever feel like you just can't feel satisfied/like something is missing from a meal? That's how I used to feel when I cut out food groups, especially carbs. BUT, when I began to include all food groups, I would feel more satisfied from the meal quicker. Then, I could leave the meal behind without over thinking about food. With fats, you are more satisfied for longer too! They all just work together beautifully!!
Lastly, eating every 2-3 hours is actually the best thing for your metabolism. Often, we are told to eat less, BUT this sets your body into SOS or starvation mode as well. Over time, it holds onto your food and keeps it as fat so that it can be a protection (because it goes into starvation mode and is not sure when you are going to eat next). When you eat every couple hours, it increases your metabolism. Your body and your metabolism LOVEE it!
So, these are just some of the main nutritional truths that I have learned from certified nutritionists. They gave me incredible freedom with food and I hope they do to you, too. :) If you have any questions, be sure to meet with a non-diet dietician (one who practices intuitive eating...the sustainable way to make peace with food long term).
Here are some nutritionists, if you feel you need some guidance in your journey to peace with food.
see here or just google non-diet or intuitive eating dietitians in your area! :)