When Does a Diet Regimen Turn into an Eating Disorder?

Dieting can be very helpful, whether you need to lose weight or you just want to make healthier eating choices. A strict short-term diet regimen can get you started on the path to better eating habits. However, healthy weight loss programs are much different from eating disorders. Dieting can be a positive step in the right direction, but for some people, it can be a serious problem. Here’s how to tell if your dieting is getting out of hand.

Eating Behaviors
The way you eat changes when you have an eating disorder. Some food behaviors to watch for include:

• Skipping meals
• Limiting your eating to a few tiny portions
• Have a very small list of foods you consider safe and will eat
• Make excuses not to eat
• Buy and eat special binge food and then purge to avoid weight gain
• Use laxatives or diuretics to reduce weight

If you or someone close to you is engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Talk to a counselor, whether locally or online through a site like BetterHelp. The counselor can help identify problem thoughts and behaviors and help resolve them.

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Everyone should be active to stay healthy. Yet, the person with an eating disorder typically goes too far. They obsess about their exercise regimen. When they begin to tire easily due to inadequate nutrition, they push themselves to continue anyway. They may even use steroids to make sure that if they do gain any weight, it’s all muscle.

Another obsession for those with eating disorders is their appearance. You fear looking fat, so you wear baggy layers to hide what you perceive that way. Clothing size becomes a major worry. You’re always looking in the mirror, trying to notice signs of fat before someone else does. You may feel that you hate every part of your body and never consider yourself fit enough.

Thoughts and Feelings
Your thoughts tend to become illogical when you have an eating disorder. For example, you may think all your problems will go away if you’re thinner. Even if the warning signs are clear to everyone else, you deny them, not only to others but also to yourself. You may be so focused on dieting that you have trouble concentrating at work or at school.

You may have mood problems as well. You avoid talking about your feelings. You find yourself being extremely irritable or hypersensitive. You might avoid other people because you don’t want them to judge you. You feel like you’re inadequate in every way. You suffer from loneliness, hopelessness, and depression.

Sticking to an extreme diet is a form of self-harm. However, if your eating disorder becomes too overwhelming, you may harm yourself more directly. Immediately get help locally if you start cutting yourself, banging your head, or physically harming yourself in other ways.

A diet is definitely not the same as an eating disorder. If you still aren’t sure whether your dieting has become unhealthy, talk to someone right away. It’s possible to overcome an eating disorder, but it’s extremely unlikely you can do it without help. Make the decision now to improve your mental and physical health.

About the Author

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

*This post has been sponsored by BetterHelp.comand written by Marie Miguel.