Allison Ballina MS, RD, LDN
The pressure to be thin is as real as ever. People, especially young females, are willing to go to extremes for the ultimate goal…the perfect body. But what is the perfect body? Is it having a muscular appearance, having the “thigh gap”, being able to fit into size 0 jeans, or having a flat stomach? There is no definition for the perfect body. However, what our mind tells us tends to be what dictates our decisions. It can become an obsession that is difficult to explain, and ultimately our actions create an outcome.
Disordered eating and eating disorders often get confused. Disordered eating can refer to wide range of abnormal eating behaviors, some which are shared with eating disorders. Some common symptoms of disordered eating include: binging, dieting, skipping meals often, laxative use, chronic fasting, body shaming, misuse of laxatives, and self induced vomiting. These are not as easily diagnosed as an eating disorder. Individuals struggling with disordered eating exhibit many of the same symptoms as eating disorders but not as extreme or at a lower frequency. Many people suffering with this have a tarnished relationship with food that includes fears, phobias, avoidance, and emotional eating. All of these are included on the spectrum of disordered eating. It is just as common in people who are overweight and obese, they continue to gain weight because of an emotional attachment to food. People with disordered eating are at a greater risk for developing eating disorders. Their eating patterns may lead to malnutrition, fatigue, or poor concentration. It can also greatly affect a person’s social life due to the constant anxiety around food.