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15 ways disordered eating is the new normal

Updated: Jun 8

Counting calories, disordered eating, plate with no food

The Normalization of Disordered Eating

Hating your body and being obsessed with food has become the norm.

  • Comparing your food choices when you're out to eat with friends is the default

  • Commenting on your friend's weight loss is a common conversation starter

  • The media is flooded with the latest wellness trends and let's be real... it's tempting to at least try them.

  • People are praised and complimented when they stick to a diet and are admired for their "self-control."

Although none of these things meet the criteria for an eating disorder, they prevent you from feeling free in your body and at peace around food.

👉Food isn’t meant to be your enemy, an object to be controlled, or used as a punishment.

Yet, it's normalized to have fallen into the trap of strict rules, calorie counting, and endless cycles of dieting that only leave you feeling deprived, guilty, and disconnected from your body.

By clearly identifying and naming the specific behaviors, you can begin to challenge them and explore a new way of relating to food (Intuitive Eating!)


If you have been dieting or worried about your body your whole life and don't know where to start, this guide is the perfect first step. I provide actionable steps you can take today to shift long-held beliefs and behaviors!


Identifying Disordered Eating Behaviors

Here are 15 common ways that people think about and/or relate to food that are normalized, yet are harmful and counterproductive.

1. Feeling the need to "detox" after eating certain foods.

The idea that you need to detox your body after eating specific foods is a myth perpetuated by diet culture. Your body has its own detoxification system (hello, liver and kidneys!). Feeling the need to cleanse or detox after eating certain foods can lead to restrictive eating patterns and an unhealthy relationship with food.


2. Counting calories

We've turned into calculating machines, constantly obsessing over numbers. And we've been taught that if you burn more calories than you eat, you'll lose weight. Easy as 1, 2, 3.

Not only is this untrue, but it also reinforces the idea that your weight is entirely in your control (it's not) and contributes to obsessive thinking (which is not an indicator of health).

Your body is a complex system. Calories in vs. calories out are two variables of a much bigger picture.


3. Yo-yo dieting

Yo-yo dieting (also called weight cycling) is the never-ending cycle of going on a diet, losing weight, and then gaining it all back. Some people live their entire lives like this and never think twice about it (hence why it's considered normal). But the effects of weight cycling are harmful and counterproductive. We need to stop glamorizing such an ineffective and misguided lifestyle.


4. Feeling a loss of control while eating or feeling a compulsive need to eat/continue eating.

"If I take one bite, I'll eat the whole bag!" This phrase is accepted as normal but it's actually a sign of distress. Your relationship with food shouldn't feel like you're one bite away from a binge.


5. Feeling a sense of guilt after eating.

"I shouldn't have eaten that."

Common? Yes. Normalized Yes. Signs of a distressing relationship with food? YES.

If you're finishing most meals feeling guilty about the food you just ate rather than satisfied and grateful, it could be time to reach out to an intuitive eating counselor - me! 😊


6. Skipping breakfast, lunch, or dinner

Diet 1 tells you to skip breakfast. Diet 2 tells you to skip lunch. Diet 3 tells you to skip dinner.


Your relationship with food doesn't need to follow rules. Especially when the suggestions contradict each other, have minimal backing from science, and are designed with profit in mind. The diet industry profits off your insecurities and continually produces new claims, new studies, and new trends to keep you coming back for more - aka giving up your money and sanity.


7. Engaging in "clean eating" with an obsessive focus.

Clean eating can start with good intentions but often morphs into an all-consuming obsession with food purity. This can lead to avoiding social situations where "unclean" foods might be present, judging others' food choices, and experiencing anxiety around eating anything deemed "unclean." This rigid thinking can disrupt your overall well-being and social life.



8. Labeling foods as "good" or "bad."

How often do you hear people say, "I was bad today; I ate cake," or "I was good today; I had a salad"? Labeling foods in this binary way can create feelings of guilt or virtue based on food choices, fostering an unhealthy relationship with food. Food is not inherently good or bad; it's just food, and all foods can fit into a balanced diet.


9. Participating in food challenges or extreme dietary restrictions.

The rise of social media has brought about many food challenges and extreme dietary restrictions that people take on for short-term goals or social clout. These practices can be dangerous, leading to nutrient deficiencies, binge eating, and a disconnection from your body's natural hunger and fullness cues.


10. Following rigid meal plans or diet rules without flexibility.

Rigid meal plans and strict diet rules leave no room for flexibility and can lead to feelings of failure and guilt when deviations occur. Life is unpredictable, and your eating habits should be adaptable to your needs, preferences, and circumstances at any given moment.


11. Eating and exercising from a place of “shoulds” and obligations.

As a society, we've strayed from trusting ourselves and listening to our body and spirit. Instead, we almost solely listen to our minds and use logic to make decisions.

Logic has a place in our decision-making, but we must develop a relationship with our bodies that's built on trust so we can honor our bodies' needs and desires when they arise.

Also, exercising becomes way more appealing when we're moving in ways that feel good and are fun.


12. Compulsive weighing and body checking

Frequently weighing yourself and checking your body in the mirror or through measurements can become an obsessive behavior that negatively impacts your self-esteem and body image. Your worth is not determined by a number on the scale, and this habit can distract you from more meaningful and joyful experiences in life.


13. Avoiding entire food groups

Going gluten-free and being vegan have become very trendy.

Although it may be under the guise of health, many people do this as a form of restriction or as an attempt to create structure and rigidity in their meals.

Check-in with yourself to see if you're making these lifestyle shifts as an act of self-care for your body or because you're hoping to lose weight.


14. “Earning” your food.

I've made a vow to never return to a fitness class where the instructor tells me I'm "earning my dinner after class." This is disordered thinking and leads to disordered eating.

You don't need to earn your food. Whether you've exercised today or not, you deserve to eat.


15. Having trouble being present at social gatherings because you’re distracted by the food or how you look

Ideally, you could hang out with friends, eat food that brings you joy, and listen to your body about what feels good and what doesn't.

But too often social experiences are tainted with stress about the food on the table, what to order, how many calories are in the mystery meal, or how you look and is anyone judging you.

If your worries about food are keeping you from fully enjoying your life, it's time to shake things up and do some healing.


Truth: If you’re spending your nights updating your calorie tracker, you're missing out on your life.

Instead of worrying about...

👉 your body size, clothes, food, calories, exercise, or your weight

You could be tapping into...

👉 your passions, your mission, your friends, your family, your partner, your heart.

Sometimes the only thing standing between where you are now and where you want to go is the fear of trying something new.

I get it. I've been there.

But diet culture doesn't have your best intentions in mind. You can take a baby step towards freedom today by challenging some of your long-held beliefs about food and pursuing intuitive eating instead.

👇Snag this free guide with practical suggestions and resources to help you begin challenging diet culture today


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