When Does Disordered Eating Become an Eating Disorder?

How many times have you heard someone call another person ‘Anorexic’, with little substance or evidence to do so other than the fact that they are thin? Partly due to ignorance, the word ‘Anorexic’ has wrongly become an adjective for use on anybody who skips their breakfast, has lost weight, or is naturally skinny. Sadly a lot of girls embark on fad diets or develop food-related foibles which can understandably cause concern amongst friends and family members. But when should we really be concerned? Disordered Eating, although not an Eating Disorder, can be harmful mentally and physically. However it doesn’t pose a definite threat to life, it’s just an unhealthy lifestyle choice. Disordered Eating is a wide umbrella which can include anything from skipping breakfast (how many people do that?!) to saving your daily calories to ‘spend’ on a night out (believe it or not this is a fairly popular phenomenon). This treatment of calories as some sort of currency, and a heavy emphasis on counting them forces us to become obsessed and neglect the bigger picture.

I am asked regularly by worried relatives if the behaviour of their loved one is something serious or just a phase. There are some key things to look out for in someone with an ED; the list on B-Eat is a fairly comprehensive guide.

My advice is, whatever you do, treat Disordered Eating with caution. Especially if the person in question is young. If you find them being secretive or aggressive over food, excessively cutting their food intake or over-exercising, then please take them to the doctor. As I expand on in further posts, an ED is very much like a stroke in that it’s best to battle the fire at its lowest ember than leaving it to destroy more and more of your loved one.

I will be posting more on this subject – so please do let me know if there is any particular guidance or information you would be interested in hearing about.



When does disordered eating become an eating disorder?