Thinking about food when you’re hungry or making cooking plans is completely normal. But thinking about food constantly? That may be a sign something is up.
You're not alone. The statistics show that 70 - 80% of women have disordered eating. But when does disordered eating become an eating disorder? And most importantly, how can we stop it?
The first step in creating a lasting change in your relationship with food is recognising if the thoughts or behaviours you have around food that are disordered. Only when you acknowledge a problem, can you start to get the support to solve it.
Whether you're looking to improve your own relationship with food or support someone else in their journey, this episode will help you recognise the signs.
P.s. If you struggle with binge and emotional eating, please try Lyndi's FREE 5-day course. It’ll teach you the strategies she used when learning to stop binge eating.
For more personalised support, check out the Keep It Real Program. It’s based on Lyndi's clinical experience as a dietitian so it won’t just be another failed attempt. Plus, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee so nothing to lose by trying this new approach.
Hello, this is the No Wellness Wankery podcast. I am Jenna D'Apice and I'm joined by the lovely Lindy Cohen.Lyndi:
Hello everyone, and this is the topic I have experienced with disordered eating. Firstly, having experienced disordered eating for a decade myself and then becoming an eating disorder dietician. That's a topic I know well and, jenna, you seem to have had some experience with it too.Jenna:
Yes, and I think it's such an interesting one because I suffered from binge eating and until I met you, Lyndi, i literally didn't even really know that was a thing. I was like I don't starve myself, i don't have anorexia, i don't purge, i don't make myself sick, so I don't have an eating disorder, i'm fine. I just have no self control. That's just the problem, and I sometimes it can be hard. You don't know that you even have disordered eating. So I think we want to go. If you are in that stage, what are the things to look out for? How do you know if it's normal and healthy or if you maybe need some help?Lyndi:
Yeah, Okay, firstly, let's think about disordered eating and healthy eating as a continuum. On the one side you've got a healthy, intuitive eater. That's that person who they're like, oh, i'm not hungry. So then they have a few bites of the cake and they push it away. I was never that person. Or they're like, oh, i'm just. You know, i'm really hungry today. So they eat as much as they want And they don't feel guilty about it. And they eat until they feel satisfied. And when they've, you know they're finished eating and they just they might have some food left over in their plate and they push it away because they're like, oh, that's that, yes.Jenna:
Or if it's like a birthday their birthday or if it's Christmas or something, something different to where there's yummy food around, they'll eat a little bit more than normal and they will feel a little bit more full than normal, but they'll be like oh, that's normal too. Yeah, i've eaten too much. Oops, exactly, and I'm not beating myself up about it.Lyndi:
I find those people tend to be quite slow eaters as well. I've become quite curious about them. I actually find they are the exception to the rule, people who have no body image hangups, who have a perfectly healthy relationship with food, who eat when they're hungry, stop when they feel full. They are the exception, so they exist on the one side of the continuum. On the other side of the spectrum, you have eating disorders, yes, and in the middle you have degrees of disordered eating, and I think that's the thing that most people don't realize When they look to the research around this. We have 70 to 80% of women struggle with disordered eating And of those I think it was 10% of those have an eating disorder. So there is a huge number of people who live in the middle who have disordered eating but perhaps aren't diagnosable for an eating disorder.Jenna:
Yeah, Or perhaps are. Maybe they are The thing that stuck out to me, which I didn't realize until after I was out of the thick of it. The biggest sign to me is just my obsession with food. I spent basically all of my spare brain power. No wonder I had no hobbies on thinking about food, thinking about losing weight, thinking about my body, thinking about everything to do with that, Even if I wasn't necessarily acting on it or doing something that I had deemed in my head to be disordered and that would mean I had a problem. I was just thinking about it constantly.Lyndi:
Yeah, so I mean, dieting can certainly trigger this in us. In fact, sometimes we think, oh, i'm on a diet, but it causes food obsession, which causes disordered eating, and it's not a good thing.Jenna:
So that's one big thing obsession. I would think another thing would be food rules.Lyndi:
Yeah, So if you have a whole bunch of food rules, then food rules. I talk about this in my book. Your Weight is Not the Problem. If you haven't read that, I would highly recommend you go and listen. If this podcast sounds like relevant to you, go have a read or a listen. And we talk about food rules, because you could have hundreds of food rules. So, many You have accumulated after so many years of dieting, and they can often contradict each other, which is really crappy.Jenna:
So Leave you with nothing to eat, more confusion and more obsession because you're trying to work out the perfect meal, snack or food that makes every rule happy.Lyndi:
So every So food rules examples of food rules might be I'm only allowed this number of calories for a snack or a meal. I have to have a protein with every single meal. I can only Can't have carbohydrates at dinner. Yeah, i can only have one carbohydrate a day. I can only have one carbohydrate per meal.Jenna:
Can I eat a small apple, not a big apple. Half a banana quarter of a banana.Lyndi:
I must have coffee, i can't have coffee. We could go on and on and on. Yes, and so if you feel like you have diet rules before you go to make a food decision, if you feel like you can weigh up you're weighing up all these decisions about what should I be eating Chances are there's a degree of disordered eating due to all those diet rules. Yes, another sign of disordered eating is, i think, hating your body and constantly wishing that you weighed less. I saw this thing. It's like a bit of a symptom of being a woman is, you know, hating how you look all the time, and then you look back at all photos of yourself and you go, oh, i wish I looked like that now. But if you look back, you remember you hated yourself back then as well. And that's just the constant state of being a woman Yeah, Always hating how you look and wishing you looked like you did when you were younger. So I think some degree of body image stuff is tied up with disordered eating as well. It's definitely the catalyst. So if you feel like you're always constantly trying to lose weight or wanting to lose weight, you're desiring weight loss all the time, irrespective, you know. I think that's a sign of disordered eating.Jenna:
I would say another thing would be having like a real all or nothing approach to food and to exercise. Anyone that if you think I'm going for a run every day for three weeks and then I'm not doing anything for six months and I'm going to meal prep all my food for three weeks and then I'm not going to eat any of it, and all of this really intense pendulum swinging of I'm on a detox and I'm only having these juices and then I'm going to cut out this but then I'm going back to eating whatever I want.Lyndi:
Yes, sign of disordered eating. I think another one is feeling guilty after you eat. So either feeling really proud of yourself when you ate something that you considered to be good, or feeling really guilty when you ate more than you planned.Jenna:
Yeah, maybe the the tie way there is feeling big emotions after you eat. Yeah, because it shouldn't be. You haven't done anything good or bad. There's nothing to feel You haven't achieved anything or you haven't failed yourself.Lyndi:
Remembering back to that person. Who's that healthy and chewer of eater? after they've finished a meal, they're not giving it a second thought. They're not lying a bed at night.Jenna:
Rating it, dysecting it.Lyndi:
If you have a degree of disordered eating, there is that post meal assessment that's happening to work out what we need to do from here on out. People with a degree of disordered eating. They're probably lying a bed at night and trying to work out what they ate that day and how are they going to try and do better tomorrow.Jenna:
I was going to say that another sign of disordered eating would be like overly planning, like I'm going to be having this for dinner, so then I should have less. Now You know what I mean. Really trying to, like Rain man, map it all out.Lyndi:
Perfect your eating. Yes, and only accepting perfect eating and then feeling really bad when you don't get the perfect eating sorted.Jenna:
I think another big sign of disordered eating would be like obsession with eating healthy foods.Lyndi:
Yes, and then at some point, you know, if this, this can be diagnosed as orthorexia.Jenna:
Yes, I was going to say it has a name.Lyndi:
It becomes controlling and that's when it kind of bleeds into becoming a diagnosable eating disorder on that other side of the spectrum, So orthorexia.Jenna:
can you explain what that is briefly?Lyndi:
Yeah, orthorexia is an eating disorder where you have an obsession with trying to eat healthy foods that you consider clean, healthy.Jenna:
You have a set of rules in your brain about what you consider to be.Jenna:
You've got like a safe list and these the foods I'm allowed to eat, exactly So it's not so much about calories, or something like anorexia and nevosa, we see there's more calorie obsession.Lyndi:
Orthorexia might be or I don't have anything that's processed, or I don't have anything that has these additives, or you know, it has to be completely sugar free and it has to be vegan, or it has to be Okay. These can be variations of how orthorexia presents itself. And so at what point does your eating disorder, your disordered eating, become an eating disorder is once you start being able to take diagnostic criteria. So, for example, you might binge eat once a month. Okay, a binge would be. Is another side of disordered eating If you feel like you feel out of control around food. That's a you come home and you just can't stop eating, or that could be a binge or secret eating. You know when you wait till everyone else is out of the house and that's when you feel like that's it can be a sign of disordered eating. Now, when does it become binge eating disorder? That's when it's happening more than once or more a week for three months and you feel a sense of out of control and You're eating way more than you normally would in a setting. So they've stuck all these criteria around to be like this is what's diagnosable, or with anorexia and nevosa, you have it. Die, you can be diagnosed with it. When you are your BMI is under your underweight, you lose your period. A whole bunch of other things need to need to happen if you're preoccupation with food to actually get that diagnosis. My concern is sometimes you're presenting with pretty intense disordered eating but you're not hitting all these criteria to actually tick a box to say I have an eating disorder And, as a result, no one's treating you, no one's seeing that there is some really unhealthy stuff going on And you need help, and you need help. And if you don't get help, you probably will continue to get.Jenna:
You're on the path.Lyndi:
You're on the path there Exactly, And so I think I'm very interested in if any of you listening to this going. Well, I think I have a degree of disordered eating. I want to be able to help you because I think you can either continue on the pathway and move closer to what's having an eating disorder, which controls your life, impacts your mood, your physical well-being and can be pretty life changing, Or we can go back towards being that healthy person who eats when they feel hungry and all those kind of good stuff. So if you're identifying or listening to this going oh, I think I might have some degree of disordered eating. This is a clue, a cue to start to go. Okay, I need to create work on having a healthier relationship with food and my body. I do talk about this a lot in my book. Your Weight is Not the Problem. You can also get my app Back to Basics, which has got lots of videos talking about how to have a healthier relationship with food, which is something I'd recommend. If you have disordered eating, it's definitely for you. If you have binge eating disorder, I have my Keep It Real program, So helping you whichever part of this spectrum that you're existing in to try and reduce that disordered eating, Another sign of disordered eating. Before we kind of like, because I keep thinking there.Jenna:
so there are lots, There's lots.Lyndi:
Lots is being obsessed with what other people are eating. So if you're in other people's weights, yeah, so if you're watching a lot of what I eat in a day, day on a plate, kind of videos that could be a sign of disordered eating. If you like watching other people eat, that could be a sign of disordered eating.Jenna:
And watching how much food other people take, and then how much. Like you know, you're at a family event and everyone's taking food and you're really conscious how much you're taking and you're seeing how much, how many times everyone else has gone up.Lyndi:
You're fearful of other people judging how much you put on your plate. That could be another sign as well, basically, if you're spending much time.Jenna:
Yeah, if you're spending much of your precious brain power thinking about any of these things, it's a sign.Lyndi:
Can we also just say so quickly, the difference between feeling like you know, this is something that's a healthy eating thought, because to eat healthily You do have to have some degree of thinking about food When does it bleed into disordered eating? So I guess the difference is Before the week ahead, i have a healthy relationship of food. I don't obsess, i don't have disordered eating. I'm thinking, oh, what would I like to eat this week? I think about what's in season, i think about what's cheaper, the grocery store, which is pretty much the same thing. What will make you feel good? Yeah, i pick a few recipes and I'm gonna try those, and I cook them up and after I've eaten them, i assess it based on did that leave me feeling satisfied, did that leave me feeling good? and Hopefully it ticks those boxes and it did both those things. And then you move on, and then I move on. I don't think about it again, except whether or not I'll cook it again, and that's that's when you know. So if you're having anything beyond that, i think that's a cue. And what do we do then? so let's say great, i know, i've got some degree of disordered eating. I think, seeing a psychologist who specializes in Body image. Disordered eating eating disorders is a perfect person to go and speak to, amazing person to speak to. If you can access a Dietitian who specializes in eating disorders, i would go and see them. If you possibly can, that would be the best thing to be able to do and, of course, the resources I mentioned that I provide. That's kind of like if you, if you can't make that happen, that's another way that you can kind of get support. But I think turning back the clock and coming back towards that other side of The spectrum for that healthy eating, that's the goal that we really want. You're gonna have so much more headspace when every thought doesn't get come keep coming back to how many grams of protein or how many Calories you ate that day. You are going to have so much more capacity for other things in your life and, as a result, i actually think I know we often think that these disordered eating habits help us manage our weight, but I don't think that's the case. I think they actually make it a lot harder and they add stress to your life, because it's really hard to, you know, if every thought keeps coming back to food. Don't think about food.Jenna:
Don't think about food. Thinking about food, you thinking about the polar bear.Lyndi:
You're probably gonna end up eating the food. Yes, some points. So I think all of this does play into the big picture of if you, if you're going, i really want to lose weight. This disordered eating is helping me lose weight. It's not. if it was, you wouldn't be listening to this podcast, correct, you would have been sorted.Jenna:
But, as Linda said, she has so many great resources her keep it real program If you have struggle with binge eating, or back to basics if you just want to know a little bit more about how to incorporate healthy habits Into your day to day. But, as always, if you think you are further along the spectrum and you're wanting more help, chat to your doctor. Find a really nice GP That connects with you and it makes you feel comfortable and doesn't subscribe to the dieting. Yeah inquiry and they can help you.Lyndi:
I do think when you approach your doctor, most of them aren't screening for eating disorders, disordered eating, nearly as much as I think they should be. So I would go to that session and come with a problem, saying I think I might be struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder. Can we talk about that? Yeah, otherwise, because I know when I went to my doctor and I, you know, turned up saying I can't stop thinking about food, he told me I should try another diet. Yes, so we do need to find the right doctor and we need to be a bit explicit about what it is. Yes, this is what I'm looking for. That's it. I hope you found today's episode helpful, hopefully not too confronting, and a nice opportunity to seek a new way. Oh, do we things and get some support. Thanks listening to today's podcast episode. If you want, you can leave a review. I'd be so grateful That way, more people can listen to these podcasts and get benefit from it, because I think there's a whole bunch of people who are struggling with Disordered eating and don't even know it.Jenna:
Thank you so much for listening. We'll chat to you next time.