Recently the term "disordered eating" has been getting a lot of buzz; but what does it mean exactly? Are eating disorders and disordered eating habits really that different? I felt the need to do a little research and find out exactly what the difference was...
According to the National Centre for Eating Disorders, disordered eating can be described as:
"Far more common and widespread than defined eating disorders are atypical eating disorders, or disordered eating. Disordered eating refers to troublesome eating behaviors, such as restrictive dieting, bingeing, or purging, which occur less frequently or are less severe than those required to meet the full criteria for the diagnosis of an eating disorder. Disordered eating can be changes in eating patterns that occur in relation to a stressful event, an illness, personal appearance, or in preparation for athletic competition. The 1997 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Study found that over 4% of students nationwide had taken laxatives, diet pills or had vomited either to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight."
Another definition from the National Eating Disorder Collaboration states:
"Disordered eating is when a person regularly engages in destructive eating behaviours such as restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals. Disordered eating can include behaviours which reflect many but not all of the symptoms of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS)."
And just in case you need a few more statistics, an article from ScienceDaily.com titled, "Three out of Four Women have Disordered Eating, Survey Suggests," provides some shocking numbers:
- 75 percent of women report disordered eating behaviors or symptoms consistent with eating disorders; so three out of four have an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies
- 67 percent of women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) are trying to lose weight
- 53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight
- 39 percent of women say concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness
- 37 percent regularly skip meals to try to lose weight
- 27 percent would be “extremely upset” if they gained just five pounds
- 26 percent cut out entire food groups
- 16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day or fewer
- 13 percent smoke to lose weight
- 12 percent often eat when they’re not hungry; 49 percent sometimes do
It is not shocking to me that this many people reportedly have unhealthy relationships with food; what is shocking to me, however, is the definition of disordered eating. This is just my personal opinion, but if a person is regularly engaging in eating disordered symptoms, such as binging and purging, then how is it possible that medical professionals can diagnose them with disordered eating instead of an eating disorder?
There are so many people in this world who are struggling every single day with their eating habits, but are afraid to receive help because they don't believe they are "sick enough," thanks to these stupid definitions. Again, just my personal opinion, but if a person's eating habits are getting in the way of their mental and emotional well being, then they should be considered "sick enough" to receive help.
One other thing that really pushes my buttons is when professionals do not believe a person has an eating disorder (or disordered eating or whatever other incorrect label is put on it) because they are not severely underweight. Let me repeat myself: If a person's eating habits are affecting their mental and emotional well being then they should be considered sick enough to receive help.
I'm not quite sure how this post helps my personal progress, but sometimes simply spreading a little awareness (or common sense) is good enough for me.