It’s incredible to consider that, despite the amazing advancements we have made in our understanding of nutrition, fitness and wellness in the last hundred or so years, so many struggle with their relationship with food and body.
When we go in and do the math and crunch the hard numbers, over 1 million men in the United States are said to suffer from an Eating Disorder. When it comes to women – the number increases ten-fold – that’s 10 million women (of all ages) afflicted with a very challenging and delicate disorder. Whether it appears as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, orthorexia, or binge eating in the individual, that’s still 11 million people that could seriously benefit from some faithful support, encouragement and guidance.
10% of our National Population or 24 million People Have Eating Disorders
We can all agree that such a number is alarming – and yet, this speaks to the number of documented cases. The national Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders puts the total number at closer to 24 million people. It’s closing in on 10% of our National Population.
Obviously whatever we’re doing isn’t quite doing the job. Obviously there’s a need here to approach the topic in a new way and everyone seems ready to weigh in with an opinion about what causes it and how to go about fixing it.
While we have all been taught to recognize, at least in theory, the more clinical forms of eating disorders, there’s actually a whole other range of disordered eating patterns that affect an even wider portion of the population. And the reason why we don’t hear about them is, well – they’re not so clear-cut.
Disordered eating is different than an eating disorder because it’s not “diagnosable”. Eating disorders have names like: anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and symptoms like purging, vomiting, fear of food, obsession with purity, and starvation.
Disordered eating can result from a variety of different factors, which, while hugely impact-full, will rarely put someone into required clinical care or even hospitalization. Regardless, the truth is that Disordered Eating is an everyday reality for many, many people.
This is why we at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating focus our intentions and passion on these most common eating concerns and issues – because they often slip under our noses, because so much of this behavior has been normalized, because so many believe they are alone in how they relate to food and their body.
It’s why our founder Marc David, developed eating psychology for everybody.
Because it may show up in relation to weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, digestion, fatigue, our immune systems and our moods. Because it’s different for everyone. And each aspect deserves our attention, compassion, focus and diligence.
Disordered eating consists of more nebulous symptoms like:
- Eating more than is comfortable for the body
- Cravings that rule food choices
- Chronically dieting
- Self-judgment and/or guilt after eating
- Excessive planning and thinking about food
- Fear of food and weight
- Obsession with weight and weighing oneself
- Disconnection from full and empty signals in the body
Now, admittedly, few of these symptoms will ever prove themselves to be life threatening in the way that traditional, clinical eating disorders can be, but they are always life altering. When so much of our energy and focus is being placed on what we just ate, how much we weigh, and what we’ll eat next – we are depriving ourselves of the fullness and wonder available to us in the gift of our lives. It’s so easy to forget our passion and our joy when we expend so much effort in just one small corner of life.
Here at IPE, we believe that a plan for healing disordered eating must bring about a positive and healthy relationship with our body, and in turn, provide us a strong foundation for having a positive and healthy relationship with our entire life, and not confine it to what’s on the plate or what the scale says. It’s time to make you room in the equation for your true nutritional dream.
3 Helpful Steps to Heal Disordered Eating
With all of that said, we wanted to serve up 3 helpful steps to begin healing your relationship with any pattern of disordered eating you may be experiencing. Let’s dive in!
Every solution comes about from our willingness to first, naming the problem and then “getting curious” about it in a non-judgmental way. It’s common to notice a problem and then wish its demise or seek to eradicate it with an aggressive plan of attack. You might have noticed how this tends to set up an internally antagonistic relationship with our food and body. It turns up the volume on our resistance to change. When we allow ourselves to be in a state of self-inquiry and observation, however, – and without self-judgment – then we position ourselves for a more flexible emotional and mental state, which opens the door to step 2: listening to the messages our disordered eating symptoms have to say to us.
All our unwanted eating behaviors – be they overeating, chronic dieting, binging, etc. these are messages from our body and psyche. Symptoms are the way our body talks to us. Our chronic dieting may be telling us that we feel out of control in life, and need to make sustainable and healthy changes to find stability. Our sugar cravings may be telling us that we need more sweetness in our life, or that we have a nutritional deficiency. When healing our disordered eating, it’s imperative to walk towards our unwanted behaviors with a listening ear, versus trying to ignore, or wage war on them.
Healing happens most easily with support, guidance and company. In a society that perpetually promotes dieting and an antagonistic relationship with our body, it’s essential to find like-minded people who will support a holistic and healthy approach to healing disordered eating patterns. Support makes it easier to maintain an attitude of curiosity and respectful listening when it comes to healing disordered eating. Because you’re not alone and you have no need to be. By healing disordered eating, we not only regain a positive and healthy relationship with our body and life – we can also head off the development of full blown eating disorders – which saves lives.
Here at IPE, we’re all about a safe and supportive journey. And we’re all about helping you find the path that’s the most inspiring, empowering and most perfect for YOU.
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