There's a fine line between a diet and a disease. Find out if you're in danger.
First, answer these questions:
1. Do you binge, but don't purge?
2. Do you overeat at night on a regular basis?
3. Do you eat when you are stressed or eat to cope?
4. Do you eat in secret? Do you feel like a sugar or carbs addict?
5. Do you eat a lot of junk food? Do you constantly crave food?
6. Are you good during the day, but bad with food at night?
7. Do you overeat forbidden foods before or after a diet?
8. Have you been on multiple diets, yet still can't seem to make healthy food choices, or stay in control around certain foods?
9. Do you have restrictive eating and cheat days?
If you said "yes" to any of these questions, you have an eating problem. That does not mean you have an eating disorder, but you may be heading for one if you don't change the way you eat, or if you don't change your relationship with food. Those with serious eating disorders are diagnosed with bulimia, anorexia or a binge eating disorder, which are severe enough to put one's health in danger.
It is likely that more than half of all adults in the US have an eating problem, but it goes undetected and unreported. No one talks about overeating, night eating, stress eating, emotional eating, sweets or junk food eating as a serious problem. But those who have these food patterns know it isn't healthy, and often carry feelings of shame about the way they eat. Many are also at risk, like Julia, of shifting into eating disorder behaviors.
Sadly, dieting contributes to the problem, yet dieting is the primary solution people are given to resolve eating issues by well-meaning physicians, nurses, coaches and nutritionists. In research conducted nearly twenty years ago, it was determined that 35% of those who dieted became pathological dieters, and a fourth of these people would progress into having eating disorders. Very likely those percentages are much higher today, which explains why specialized eating disorder treatment centers are seeing such an increase in patients.
Here are six signs you may be heading for an eating disorder:
1. You are continually obsessed with your weight, counting calories or what types of food you are (or are not) eating.
2. You get on the scale multiple times a day to check your weight.
3. You believe you are never perfect or thin enough, and you must control yourself with more restrictions and diligence to reach that state of perfection.
4. You exercise excessively to compensate for eating, or to punish yourself for eating too much.
5. You hate your body, no matter how thin you get.
6. You are ashamed of the way you eat, and often eat in hiding.
You don't have to progress into an eating disorder to get help. More dieticians, coaches, like myself, and a growing number of psychologists are now skilled in treating eating problems, particularly emotional eating, binge eating and body image issues. It is far easier to resolve these issues before they become life-threatening, but you have to be willing to reach out for our help.
The good news is, eating problems and food triggers are fairly easy to resolve. So don't wait to get help if you think you have a problem, no matter how small you think it might be. You can eat normally, and you can be free of the shame you carry about your body and yourself. I know how it feels, because I used to carry that shame and struggled with eating issues for most of my life. I wish I had gotten help sooner. So does Julia.
For more insight about food issues and how to resolve them, get two free chapters from the book INSPIRED TO FEEL GOOD.