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Why Good Diets Are Sometimes a Mask for Eating Disorders

Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment TherapyEating well and exercising is a good thing. It makes us feel better, and it also keeps us healthy. But when does a focus on having a “good diet” go too far? When does wanting to feel good become an obsession that leads to an eating disorder?

When Good Diets Go Bad

In some cases of eating disorders, the person appears on the whole “healthy”. He or she eats highly nutritious foods and has a healthy exercise regime. These people may not even appear overly thin. They may have a normal weight from all outward appearances.

But there are usually signs that something isn’t quite right. A person may have lost a significant amount of weight in a relatively short time. If it’s a younger person, they may not be growing on a rate typical with their age group. The other major sign is an obsession with eating healthy and going to extreme lengths to avoid “unhealthy” foods or purge them from their system if they do eat them.

Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia nervosa is a disorder in which people become obsessed with eating a certain way. They only want to eat the foods that are the “healthiest” for them. This obsession can often lead to restricting food to the point that the person is not eating enough calories.

Do You or Someone You Know Have This Disorder?

NEDA has a list of question for people to ask themselves if they suspect that they have this disorder. These questions can also be used if you suspect a loved one is suffering from this:

  • Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat and not worry about food quality?
  • Do you ever wish you could spend less time on food and more time living and loving?
  • Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served?
  • Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you?
  • Do love, joy, play and creativity take a back seat to following the perfect diet?
  • Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
  • Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet?
  • Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?

If you suspect that you may be suffering from this disorder, please seek help as soon as possible.

Rachel Levi, LMFT, CEDS, F- IAEDPFounder/Clinical Director
Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment

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