Disordered Eating: What is a Disordered Eating Pattern?

disorder eating what is a disordered eating pattern from an intuitive eating dietitian

Ever thought that your relationship with food may be problematic? Or that you might struggle with disordered eating?

If so, this is for you.

Why should I care?

Exploring your relationship with food is often a challenging and emotional process. The reason I encourage everyone to do it, though, is because it is so worth it. You are not meant to be at war with your body, obsessing about every morsel you eat or don’t eat.

So how do you know what is a disordered eating pattern?

Learning more about your beliefs and behaviors around food is an essential part of healing disordered eating patterns. It sets the stage for you to focus on health outside of an intense focus on weight, prioritizing behaviors over numbers.

As a registered dietitian nutritionist who owns a virtual private practice helping women heal their relationship with food who struggle along the spectrum from chronic dieting to eating disorders, I know how fundamental it is to have a healthy relationship with food. Also that when you get a feeling that how you eat or how you view food is problematic, it’s overwhelming to know where to even begin to address it.

Keep reading to learn more about what disordered eating is and what a disordered eating pattern may look like.

If you haven’t already, make sure you are signed up for my Nourished Body Basics Course interest list!

Do I have disordered eating?

Next, here are some disordered eating prompts to help you explore if this is something you struggle with.

  1. What are a few words I would use to describe my current relationship with food? What about my desired relationship with food? Is there a discrepancy?
  2. Do I view food in terms of “good” or “bad”, or let my food choices impact my feelings of self-worth? 
  3. Do I obsessively count calories or macronutrients, and get extremely frustrated or depressed when I do not stick to my goals?
  4. Do I always let external factors like food labels, meal plans, or time of day determine what, when, and how much I eat?
  5. Do I equate having an ideal body type with happiness or superiority?
  6. Am I constantly looking for the next “quick fix” to change my body in some way?
  7. Do I feel a sense of control or loss of control in different situations involving food?
  8. Do I change the way I eat when I am alone versus with others?
  9. Do I engage in the restrict-binge cycle, constantly fluctuating between not eating enough and eating to the point of discomfort?
  10. Do my food choices align with my personal life values, or do they make me feel physically and mentally misaligned? 

You are not alone.

The gray area of disordered eating lies between a healthy relationship with food and a medically-diagnosed eating disorder. It is estimated that around 3 out of 4 women struggle with disordered eating

After answering the questions above, you may have come to realize that you are one of them. If so, know that you are not alone and it is fully possible to heal your relationship with food.

disorder eating what is a disordered eating pattern from an intuitive eating dietitian

You may be wondering, what are some examples of disordered eating?

Disordered eating shows up differently in each person’s life. The intensity ranges from mild to severe. You may be obsessed with restricting calories or sticking to your macronutrient ranges.

Maybe you get frustrated when you eat something labeled as “off-limits”. Parties, vacations, and eating at restaurants might stress you out, fearing the loss of control that comes when you are not preparing your own food.

As a registered dietitian, I stand firm in my stance that everyone deserves a healthy and peaceful relationship with food.

Something I frequently remind my clients of is that you have to eat multiple times each day, every day, for the rest of your life. It shouldn’t add to the chaos or stress of life. Food provides fuel to our bodies, excitement to our palates, and happiness to our shared experiences. 

If I have disordered eating, what should I do next?

After reading this, if you have found that you struggle with disordered eating in any sense, do more research about it. Then find professionals who can support you in healing your relationship with food. Talk to trusted family members and friends who can comfort you through this process.

Be relentless in your pursuit of a happy and healthy life that you are living in alignment with your true personal values and goals.

Don’t let an obsession over food or weight dim the light inside of you. 

If you are looking to take the next step in your journey, sign up for my newsletter or schedule a free 15-minute nutrition consultation to see if we would be a good fit to work together. If you are not ready to take the next step, give yourself some time to figure out what you truly want out of life. Be patient – your journey is your own. 

If you want to binge more of my content, check out my article on the dieting comparison trap!

registered dietitian nutritionist intuitive eating dietitian non diet dietitian

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  1. […] Curious if you are engaging in disordered eating behaviors? Check out my article on disordered eating and how to know! […]

  2. […] If you haven’t already, check out our article on what a disordered eating patterns looks like. […]

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