Having a healthy relationship with food and our bodies is not easy these days. We're bombarded with mixed messages about dieting, thinness, and what to eat. Even in the process of trying to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, we can easily fall into distorted patterns eating if we aren't mindful of our habits.
Disordered eating can quickly turn into an eating disorder
if these patterns continue. Relationships with loved ones can become tense and argumentative over food, we can become isolated from friends and family, or we can wind up feeling ashamed or guilty. If self-compassion
is being replaced with self-hatred, it’s time to take a good look at our eating habits.
If left untreated, eating disorders can lead to extreme health concerns such as liver damage, osteoporosis or heart failure and can quickly become life-threatening.
Reasons we develop disordered eating patterns may not always be food-related.
Disordered eating can also be triggered by stressful or challenging events in life, our personality types, family influence, pressure from the media that influences our body-image in a negative way
, or even biological factors such as hormones or genes.
A few examples of disordered eating:
- Being extremely rigid with your meal plans and avoiding certain food groups.
- Not allowing yourself to enjoy your food.
- Spending a lot of time looking in the mirror and obsessing over certain body parts.
- Avoiding friends and family so you don’t have to eat in public.
- Constantly feeling uncomfortable in your clothes and fidgeting with them.
- Experimenting with diet pills and laxatives.
- Keeping precise track of calories and nutrition intake.
- Not being able to stop yourself from consuming large amounts of food at times.
- Having an intense love hate relationship with your scale.
- Often comparing yourself to others.
- Over-exercising to make up for extra calories.
- Defining your self-worth by what you eat.
So what does healthy eating look like?
No one perfect eating plan is right for everyone. While reading food labels and paying attention to what goes in our body is very important, eating healthy is about finding a balance of the right foods (in particular the right foods for your body!) at the right time, and most importantly: enjoying your food.
What are some steps to move toward healthy eating patterns?
The good news is that eating disorders are preventable and treatable, especially if caught at an early stage.
Learning to eat mindfully or intuitively can give you practical tools to develop healthy eating habits and a positive relationship with your body. Mindful eating
teaches you to listen to the messages your body sends and to respond to them lovingly.
Learn to recognize cravings
and find out what they are really telling you about the needs of your body. Focus on eating a balanced diet that incorporates a variety of foods and honor your hunger levels. Think critically about the messages you’re exposed to by the media. And know that a particular weight or dress size does not equal happiness.
If you’re worried about yourself or someone you know who may be struggling with body image or weight issues please address your concerns before it’s too late. Talk to a professional and get the support you need.