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Eating disorder or disordered eating?

The 2nd to 8th March is eating disorder week.

The NHS states

"An eating disorder is a mental health condition where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations."

When we discuss eating disorders many people visualize a young person, mainly female who is stick thin and has the condition Anorexia Nervosa. However there are many different facets to eating disorders - Eating disorders are a mental health illness. Many people with anorexic behaviour and thoughts actually have a "normal" weight. Whatever normal may be! Working with clients with eating disorders requires a multidisciplinary approach with the whole family being supported.

This blog is not focussing on eating disorders - (although I do work with clients who have eating disorders.) but with a what I would call "disordered eating"! As a nutritionist I work with many clients with health conditions ranging from IBS, weight gain, inflammation of skin and joints, hormonal issues, Fatigue, and a general feeling of lethargy and lack of vitality and motivation to do anything. They do not have an eating disorder but their eating is so disordered, and has been for a long long time that their health is suffering.

Clients who have yo yo dieted for years, those who feel they have over eaten and so restrict food intake the following day only to start the cycle again- Last supper syndrome.

Clients who spend a fortune on material possessions - have the latest tech gadget, expensive designer clothes, but fill their body with ready meals and "junk".

Working with these clients supporting them with detailed knowledge and giving them tools empowers them to have far more awareness and control over their food,Realizing that Investing in it really does reap the rewards far more than a pair of designer jeans, shoes or a handbag ever will!

One area I focus on with these clients is emotional eating

How emotional are you with your food?

As human beings we are all to some extent emotional eaters. Food is at the very centre of everything we do – it’s essential for life! Food has always been linked to emotional events- Imagine going to a party and there not being food!!

We celebrate events with food, holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduation, successes, passing tests, even sad occasions such as funerals there is always food. We socialise- meeting for lunch, or afternoon tea, going for coffee and cake.

All this is absolutely fine – unless you constantly use your food as an emotional crutch.

I have had a great day, lets have some cake

I have had a terrible day lets have some cake

Then there is the vocabulary that many people use linked to the food they eat-

Does any of this resonate with you?

I have been “good” today as I have not eaten any “bad “ foods

I deserve a “treat”

I'm so "bad" eating this chocolate (crisps, sweets,cake)

I'm really fed up – I deserve a “treat”

Oh you are "good "only having salad

If you can, try to take the emotional vocabulary out of your food. Instead focus on the nutritional support the food is providing to the amazing machine called your human body. The food you eat is responsible for the performance of the machine.

Then there are those who blame others for the food they eat or deny responsibility

I didn't have time to ( shop, cook, eat!) -

How much time do you spend on social media or watching TV?

Everyone was eating so I had to.

It was the fault of xxxxxx ( fill in the blanks) they brought the chocolate.

I have to have crisps and sweets in the house because of the children!

Ultimately, YOU are responsible for the fuel you provide. Your children or partner or work colleagues are absolutely NOT to blame.

If you are an emotional eater and you feel your food is controlling you rather than you being in control of your food, then you may want to consider professional help.

I work with many clients helping them change not only their behaviour, vocabulary and mindset about food but also empowering them with knowledge and tools.

Book a discovery call to discuss how I may be able to help you.

If you do use food emotionally one piece of advice is to make a list of all the non food “treats” you could give yourself

A great example is these daffodils .

89p a bunch, they lasted All week and every day I saw them open their yellow heads bringing joy and life to my office.

The brightened up my office, lasted a great deal longer than a chocolate bar, were less expensive and were a much healthier alternative.

Other self care ideas

Play with your pets- they will love you.

Buy a bottle of perfume.

Have a bath.

Read a book for pleasure.

Watch a tv programme without eating.

Paint your nails or have a manicure.

Go for a walk.

Buy yourself a gift- something you want but not necessarily need- just like most of the foods that you use for emotional eating you want them but don’t need them.

Its also good to sometimes reflect and discover WHY and When you are likely to eat emotionally.

What triggers are there in your life that may be causing this reaction? People?, Situations? The choices you make? You may have to work on removing them from your life.

Are you undernourished which may be causing your body to crave nutrients?

Is is a habit you have just got into? Always having a biscuit with a drink?

Are you leaving huge gaps between eating?

There are many factors associated with emotional eating.

I hope this has given you some food for thought!

If you feel you need more detailed information on eating disorders please follow this link to the charity BEAT

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