Who Is Susceptible to Disordered Eating?

Who Is Susceptible to Disordered Eating?Disordered eating is the condition of abnormal eating habits or patterns. Not all disordered eating warrants the diagnosis of an eating disorder. Disordered eating can also have habits or patterns of certain eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, but the eating habits do not meet all the criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis. For example an individual’s eating habits may involve binging and purging, but the individual does not exhibit this behavior frequently enough to be diagnosed with bulimia. Individuals like this are referred to as EDNOS or eating disorders not otherwise specified.

Disordered eating can be unhealthy and meet the criteria for an eating disorder, or it can simply be an irregular eating habit or pattern; however most individuals with disordered eating habits find that they revert back to regular healthy eating patterns after they receive some sort of professional treatment for their abnormal behavior, even if it does not qualify as a clinical eating disorder. Many cases of disordered eating involve individuals who are ‘obsessed’ with food; counting every calorie, researching nutritional information on everything that is put into their bodies, and more.

Signs of Disordered Eating

Common signs of disordered eating include the following:

  • Intense fear of even the slightest weight change
  • Adhering to strict food rules
  • Using diet pills or laxatives
  • Fasting or using detox cleanses to lose weight
  • Omitting certain food groups
  • Having “safe” foods and eating them on a daily basis
  • Having thoughts preoccupied with food over 50 percent of the time
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Eating in “secret”
  • Overeating when not hungry
  • Eating “comfort” foods
  • Overexercising
  • Frequently weighing one’s self

What Causes Disordered Eating?

While on the surface, most issues with abnormal or unhealthy eating behaviors seem to be physical, the desire to be thin or lose weight typically stems from underlying emotional or psychological issues and past traumas, especially during childhood.

Like drugs, alcohol, sex, and other actives, food can be used to cope with stress and emotional pain. When people control and obsess over what they put into their bodies, they are less affected by the other things they cannot control. Whether the issue be stress, anxiety, or low self-esteem, individuals can use food and eating habits to cope with these issues. Individuals may need to distract themselves, “hurt” their body, feel better about themselves, gain control, or do whatever they can to deal with the emotional problems and pain that they cannot deal with. People highly susceptible to disordered eating include the following:

  • Females
  • Young adults and teenagers
  • Individuals with a family history of eating disorders
  • Individuals lacking a sense of identity or self-esteem
  • People with high family expectations or family dysfunction
  • People lacking healthy coping mechanisms and supportive resources
  • Athletes
  • Performers, dancers, models, TV personalities, entertainers, actors, and more
  • People at high-risk for stress
  • Individuals experiencing major life transitions
  • Victims of trauma, abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, assault, rape, etc.
  • Individuals with mental health issues, like depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and more

Treating disordered eating and eating disorders will involve addressing these underlying issues that are influencing the disordered habits and behaviors. Persons who seek help for disordered eating can prevent a full-blown, unhealthy eating disorder from taking form.

Treating Disordered Eating and the Issues that Cause Disordered Eating Behavior

To learn more about treating disordered eating and the issues that influence abnormal eating habits or behaviors, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. A recovery professional can help with your questions, concerns and needed information.