Heather Fisher Professional Drug & Alcohol Interventionist

Eating Disorders

Disordered eating is a term to describe a range of eating disorder symptoms and irregular eating behaviors that may or may not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Eating disorders and all mental health conditions are diagnosed according to narrow and specific criteria. An individual may be struggling with a variety of eating habits or issues with weight or food that are affecting them negatively, although their diagnosis could not be otherwise specified.

What Does Disordered Eating Look Like?

The term disordered eating is a descriptive phrase and not a diagnosis. With that said, disordered eating habits can still have a significant negative impact on a person’s physical, emotional and mental health. Treatment for disordered eating may be necessary as they may turn into more progressive illnesses over time.

It is estimated that 50% of the population display some level of problematic relationships with food, body image, or exercise. In today’s American culture, there is a lot of societal pressure to look a certain way and maintain a certain weight. Many people struggle to recognize that the ways they are striving to fit in are actually hurting them. The following are symptoms and criteria that correspond to disordered eating:

  • Frequent dieting
  • Anxiety and restriction associated with specific food groups
  • Constant weight fluctuations
  • Feelings of guilt and shame around eating
  • Using exercise, food restriction, fasting, purging, or diet pills to make up for eating “bad food”
  • Steroid and creatine use

If you or someone you know may be struggling with disordered eating, here are some questions to ask yourself to figure out if your habits have become harmful:

  • Do thoughts about food, body, and exercise impose on your concentration of necessary tasks and responsibilities?
  • Are you restricting your social life and activities to avoid disruption of your exercise routine or fears around eating food in public spaces?
  • Are you using food to cope with problems, uncomfortable emotions, or stress?
  • Are food and thoughts of food causing you great anxiety?

Eating Disorder Screening

Adapted from SCOFF Questionnaire and DSM-5
Responses should be based on behavior over the past 90 days

NOTE: Addiction is progressive, chronic and 100% recoverable when treated.

Disclaimer: This screening is not designed to make a diagnosis or take the place of a professional diagnosis
consultation. Use this brief screening tool to help determine if further action is recommended.
For help in selecting the proper level of treatment in your area please contact our office.

How is Disordered Eating Harmful?

Constant dieting and restricting the amount of food you eat can be very dangerous for your health and wellbeing. Not having adequate nutrition regardless of how much you weigh can result in physical ailments such as bone loss, digestive issues, muscle weakness, headaches, fatigue, and poor sleep quality.

Issues with disordered eating often play a role in an individual’s mental health and quality of life. Problems with eating and body image are often associated with feelings of guilt and shame. People who struggle with disordered eating often report feelings of inadequacy and not being good enough. These types of thoughts and feelings could lead to a more serious mental health condition like depression or anxiety if left undealt with.

Changing Disordered Eating Patterns

Changing disordered eating patterns and getting relief from food, exercise, and body image struggles is possible and achievable. It may be hard to accept that your habits are harmful, and individuals may want to find reasons to justify their behaviors. But, it is important to get help as soon as you notice a problem because disordered eating does come with long-term negative consequences and can progress in understanding. If you or someone you know may need help with disordered eating, reach out to Heather Fisher Recovery Services today to find out more about recovery options in your area.