Are you a disordered eater? Disordered eating is the more common cousin to eating disorders. It encompasses a much wider array of unhealthy eating habits. I’ve struggled with disordered eating for as long as I can remember, and the following 5 tips have helped me tremendously, and I hope they do you too.
Note: If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, consult professional help.
Admit You Have a Problem
I know that conjures up images of Alcoholics Anonymous, but this is a must first step to taking back control of your eating habits. For the longest time, I never thought I had a problem, but the more I thought about it, I could see how my nutrition obsession was negatively affecting me. Before I could fix my eating problem, I had to understand there was a problem to fix.
Don’t Count Calories
This is one of the first positive choices I made. I used to count every calorie, know my macronutrient breakdowns, and know how many calories I burned every day. I’d log every meal, and count every step taken in a day.
I don’t have a problem with calorie counting. I think it teaches you a lot about your food, and I think everyone should do it for at least a couple of weeks. However, counting calories had me thinking about food nearly every waking hour.
The good news is that all those years of calorie counting gave me a good idea of where my calorie intake was. I can now eat based on how I feel instead of what my spreadsheet says. The feeling is quite liberating.
Every so often I’ll log a day’s worth of calories to make sure I’m still in the ballpark. Or if I have very specific goals I’ll start tracking again. But I try not to obsess over it anymore.
Don’t Weigh Yourself
This is going to be one of the hardest things for most people. The scale keeps them in check, but it’s that feeling of being out of control that’s a problem for many. The reading on the scale influences their whole day. It changes your emotional state, and it makes you eat more or less.
I still weigh myself, but now it’s more of a tool for calculating body fat percentage. For some people, numbers are triggers. Those people may be better served not measuring anything and going by how they feel and look. Otherwise, taking skinfold measurements are a good compromise.
Don’t Deprive Yourself
I used to swing back and forth between periods of no-mistake eating and week-long binge fests. I quickly learned that my binging was brought on by feelings of deprivation and restriction. The thought of never getting to indulge can be a difficult one to accept.
Realize that there isn’t an on/off switch to healthy eating. There’s an in between that you can settle into and be happy with. You can have some of those “forbidden” foods in moderation and still make progress. You just have to put rules into place that keep you working towards your goals.
Change Your Environment
Sometimes all you need is a change in your environment to change your eating behaviors. If counting calories is negatively affecting you, delete the journaling app you have on your phone. If you obsess over your weight, put your scale out of site. If binge eating is your problem (hello, that was me), find out your trigger points and then change your environment so they are less likely to be experienced.
For me, that meant not bringing low-quality food home. If I want something not-so-healthy to eat, I go to the food. That environment change alone was the biggest contributing factor to getting my binge eating under control.
Disordered eating is not a death sentence for your weight loss goals. With a little awareness and pro-activeness, you too can gain back control of your eating habits and be successful.