Valerie Rice | June 15, 2021
Once upon a time we all went to a health class. I am betting that at some point the teacher told you about eating disorders, you might have even seen a film about a couple of girls. You know the one. The one where the girl who doesn’t eat gets sick and her friend who does eat vomits? Yeah, it was a Hallmark moment…. Anyway. I want to talk about a lesser known problem called (unironically) Disordered Eating.
So instead of your classic EDs, this is more subtle, but with similar behavior. Let me ask you a question: Do you wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and go all day on nothing but another latte and a cup of ice until around midnight when you have some snack food before tumbling into bed? Do you go through binge and purge cycles? I mean….not regularly…like not daily…. Okay, real talk. If you have symptoms of an eating disorder but it isn’t enough for a full diagnosis: You have disordered eating and it is an eating disorder outside the confines of a diagnosis. You’re Welcome. But seriously, healthy attitudes toward your body and food are considered the norm. When you deviate from this, you are running into disordered eating. Which is why my fridge is empty save for jelly, ice, and bread. I simply do not eat.
SO yeah, body image, and our society’s obsession with perfection. Let us not forget about the deep seeded need for control over our lives and autonomy. But wait, there’s more! Another cause for disordered eating is neurodivergence (sorry guys, it’s true). Thanks to our sensory problems and rigid adherence to routine, safety foods, and texture. If a safe food is not available, we will not eat, and Ta-DA! A new, unhealthy, pattern forms. IS THIS IN THE DSM? Lemme check….not exactly, it is EDNOS and there is a push (from some) to widen the criteria so that separate treatment can be created. This does not include ARFID. Click here for that. The degree to which disordered eating is taken seriously depends on both your current weight (unfortunately) and the knowledge of your provider. Failing to address this issue leaves you open to developing the more narrow and easily diagnosed though harder to treat ED’s and serious medical complications including death.
Look, I didn’t mean to call anyone out just now. Here’s the deal. If you have disordered eating, the best thing to do right now is acknowledge it. Once you do that you can work on changing eating patterns before they become deadly. Unfortunately for most people this means identifying the root cause and may mean going to therapy. I haven’t said that recently. So there ya go. Changing a habit that is deeply ingrained takes time and assistance. Food is very much a personal issue for people because it is a large part of our culture and has both positive and negative effects on our self image. So if you think this may be an issue you need to address, find help, but in the mean time…
Nutrient dense foods are your friend. If you have a hard time eating large amounts right now, try to pick nutrient dense foods such as nuts and berries. In addition to being high in nutrients, they require very little preparation and are easy to snack on. For more options, click here. Along with that concept is eat the rainbow. If your snacks are multi-colored and natural, you have a decent chance of getting a variety of nutrients. Those fruits and vegetables can be delicious raw, just wash and snack. They even have them conveniently packaged and ready to go in both grocery and convenience stores if you do not have the energy to prep. No shame, I can NOT stand up long enough to cook a full meal anymore, so those pre packaged grapes and cheese snacks at the corner store are gold. Also, eat often. If you are snacking only you are probably running on very few calories, and calories are necessary to sustain life. So instead of 3 meals, aim for 6 snacks.
Please please PLEASE do not think that eating a few snacks is the solution. It is a step in the right direction, and I am not a nutritionist. The best thing to do is to get help identifying the cause and triggers of food issues and address them. Now, in order to not be hypocritical, I am going to grab a handful of almonds and a cup of green tea. Until next time, Be Well!