Disordered eating: what you need to know

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Chasing a weight loss goal can lead you to watching everything what you eat but when does it become too much? Relationships with food can be as complex as explaining the offside rule to that one mate who has no clue. Join us as we discuss disordered eating.

Have you found yourself completely avoiding certain food groups as you think you can’t be trusted around them? Constantly thinking about food and feeling super stressed over what to eat?  Or thinking you need to earn what you eat through exercise? These can all be signs your relationship with food needs attention.

Think of eating habits as being on a spectrum.


At one end is a healthy relationship to food. Here you’re relaxed about what you eat and when. You’ll eat for enjoyment, as well as to fuel your body, without any worries. (Although don’t get confused, being relaxed about food isn’t the same as not caring about what you eat and how it affects your weight or health).

At the other end of the spectrum is an extremely unhealthy relationship with food where you might have all the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder like very strict habits around eating, deliberately making yourself sick or taking laxatives after eating a meal and being secretive around food.

And in the middle is disordered eating. Here you might start a new diet every Monday, comfort eat when stressed or have some rules around what you can and can’t eat.

Other signs of disordered eating are:-

– Having forbidden foods you feel you can’t be trusted around
– Getting mad or beating yourself up for eating something ‘unhealthy’
– Difficulty taking a break from exercise even if injured or unwell
– Always thinking about food and planning ‘cheat days’
– On/off mindset around food
– Labelling food as ‘good/bad’ or ‘unhealthy/healthy’
– Not trusting yourself to stop eating when you’re full

The good news is you can show disordered eating habits the red card and switch your mindset by:

–  Subbing out rigidity for flexibility when it comes to food – all foods fit – you just let some off the bench more often than others.
– Treating your inner critic like a pitch invader when it pipes up with things like ‘Did you really just eat all of that’ – escort it out of the ground so play can continue.
– Reading up on Intuitive eating with the book ‘Just eat it – getting your sh!t together around food’

Remember, the game isn’t over at half time – eating habits and your relationship to food takes time to change.

If you’re concerned about your eating habits and think you might have an eating disorder your GP is the place to go. There’s no shame in seeking support, eating disorders are considered serious mental illnesses, and they don’t discriminate. They can affect anyone regardless of race, gender or body size.

It’s also impossible to tell whether someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them. If you’re after more information or concerned about a mate, check out BEAT’s website.


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