What is Disordered Eating?
Eating disorders can be considered severe psychiatric diagnoses.
However, many people don’t have clinically significant conditions but have what is called disordered eating.
Although there might be some subtle dieting, body image issues, hyperfocus on clean eating, and compulsive overeating, it doesn’t have to be a full blown eating disorder before someone seeks help. Anytime there is dysfunctional or disordered eating is the perfect time to get help from a professional so it doesn’t progress into a higher level of dysfunction, causing significant impairment or distress.
Historically disordered eating treatment has not put adequate attention to biological factors, such as genetics, neuroscience, the gut microbiome, hormones, and nutrition. Research shows food consumed during recovery can make a difference for many people. Nutritional quality is important-it is not true that a calorie is a calorie-this is mostly an outdated nutrition framework. Harnessing the power of foods high in micronutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals will result in better outcomes. In overcoming disordered eating, it is essential to address biological factors, how individuals think about food and their body, and also include some of the concepts used by holistic practitioners who take a broad view and evaluate all factors contributing to wellness. New research focusing on nutritional psychiatry and nutritional psychology is an exciting area with wide-ranging implications.
Currently, the non-diet approach empowers people to get in touch with their internal cues instead of relying on external influencers or experts. A single “food philosophy” that gets extended to all people regardless of their biology, psychology, or social conditions is non- scientific. In other words, some people will benefit from having a more exclusive dietary approach that does emphasize the biological impact of certain foods. This may include having an expert provide guidelines during the healing process to empower the person to become more intuitive over time. Sometimes more deliberate methods can still have a place, particularly for those with food addiction and other mental health issues (e.g., depression). A structured approach works better for some, and this doesn’t have to mean “diet.”
Clinicians who treat eating disorders are likely to pull their clients toward their food philosophy. I don’t have a food philosophy, so this won’t influence the direction you go but rather empower you to find out what is sustainable for you. If giving up sugar always leads to binge eating, this approach may not suit you. If frequent consumption of ultra-processed foods over-activates your reward system, making it difficult not to overeat and preventing you from being the best version of yourself, consuming less makes sense. Nutrition depends on myriad factors, and what works now may evolve as you grow and change. Many people who cut out sugar find they can include sweet foods in moderation later in life. Often food preferences fluctuate over time, and changes in dietary intake can lead to changes in palatability and cravings.
If you struggle with body image, spend a great deal of time thinking about food, or feel uncomfortable with your relationship with food, you might be ready for a meaningful approach that considers much more than just food.
TOGETHER, LET’S TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR NUTRITION.
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