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Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorder - What's the Difference?

Disordered eating has become the norm in today's newfound obsession with trendy diets, food fads, dieting, and weight loss.

While disordered eating may not necessarily be harmful, it is a precursor to a full-blown eating disorder. So when does disordered eating become an eating disorder? Are there differences between them, and what should you do if you have an eating disorder?

Let's find out!

Disordered Eating - what is it?

Disordered eating is the presence of abnormal eating patterns or behavior in an individual. People often take to disordered eating and reduced calorie intake to reach a certain weight goal, hoping they'll feel better and accepted. When they reach their goal, they often set a lower one, and the cycle continues.

Individuals with disordered eating tend to avoid social gatherings with food and are obsessive about their diet, thereby putting themselves at risk. Signs and symptoms of disordered eating include: 

  • Binge eating 

  • Using diet pills

  • Excessive exercising 

  • Meal skipping 

  • Binge eating 

  • Self-induced purging 

  • Undereating and overeating 

  • Food restriction

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Eating Disorder - What is it?

Disordered eating is problematic, but it's nothing compared to eating disorders. They are brain-based illnesses involving disturbing thoughts and behaviors that can pose severe health conditions. 

People with eating disorders often have impaired concentration and have difficulty functioning in their day-to-day lives. Eating disorders also involve extreme diet restrictions. Some other signs and symptoms of an eating disorder include:

  • Low self-esteem 

  • Binge eating 

  • Depression and anxiety 

  • Extreme fasting 

  • Excessive exercise 

  • Feeling of guilt after binge eating 

  • Obsession with body size and shape 

  • Eating in secret 

  • Extreme weight loss and weight gain 

  • Dizziness, fainting, Gastrointestinal problems, Organ failure, heart disease, and other medical complications

  • Laxative abuse

Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorders

The primary difference between disordered eating and eating disorder is the degree and frequency of the individual's behavior, thoughts, and eating patterns. People with both disordered eating and eating disorders exhibit similar behaviors.

However, they are less severe and frequent in disordered eating. There's also a pattern of behavior and specific diagnostic criteria in those with eating disorders.

Factors of Eating Disorders

People who exhibit certain temperamental traits such as perfectionism and attention to detail have a high chance of developing an eating disorder. Societal influences and pressures can also cause eating disorders. Some other triggers of eating disorders include overeating and dieting.

Preventing and Managing Disordered Eating

It's imperative to manage your disordered eating habit before it morphs into a full-fledged eating disorder. One way to do this is by avoiding a restrictive trendy diet, as they often result in cravings and binge eating.

Also, avoid exercising excessively as it can lead to restrictive eating. You also have to love and appreciate your body and avoid obsessively checking your body weight frequently. That may lead you to adopt unhealthy and irregular eating patterns. If you find it challenging to break your behavior, seek professional help.

Getting Help for Eating Disorder

Eating disorders such as Anorexia, Bulimia, and binge eating disorder are well recognized and treated by mental health professionals using different psychoactive approaches to identify the underlying triggers.

If you, a friend, or a loved one is exhibiting signs and symptoms of an eating disorder, it's important to reach out to professionals before it goes out of hand.

Getting treatment early from experts like those at True U Wellness Clinic can be crucial in preventing menstrual disorders, anxiety, depression, organ failure, and other complications of eating disorders. The team will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan and coping skills to handle future triggers for a full, long-lasting recovery. Get in touch with us today. 


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