Life is about relationship. Relationship with your family, your neighbors, and equally as important – your food. This week we’re going to talk about the lesser known unhealthy relationship with food otherwise known as Disordered Eating, or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS).
Bulimia and Anorexia make up the majority of eating disorders resulting in the common assumption that they make up the entirety of eating disorders. However, within the last few decades, this Age of Information and endless access to goods has seen an increase in the amount of EDNOS. May we remind you that correlation is not causation, but it’s wise to pay attention.
What is EDNOS exactly? Well, to state it as disordered eating is probably the most efficient and brief way to describe it but we’ll go into a little more detail. Here we will quote from Psychology Today, an article from Carrie Gottlieb, Ph.D. in which she states the signs and symptoms as the following:
“Symptoms of disordered eating may include behavior commonly associated with eating disorders, such as food restriction, binge eating, purging (via self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise, and use of diet pills and/ or laxatives). However, disordered eating might also include:
Self-worth or self-esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
A disturbance in the way one experiences their body i.e. a person who falls in a healthy weight range but continues to feel that they are overweight
Excessive or rigid exercise routine
Obsessive calorie counting
Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times, refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home”
Before we get too involved in overthinking symptoms and sending everyone to their doctor for feeling bad about eating a donut and then exercising for six hours to make up for it, let’s get right into your relationship with food.
Many of us have experienced EDNOS to a certain degree. Anyone looking to stay healthy and do it the right way has struggled with what that means for them. Often times, what this stems from is a mixed relationship with food. We look at our food as a tool to create the perfect outcome, whatever that may be. When it fails us, we either blame ourselves, the process we chose, the food, etc. What we may be failing to recognize is the role of stress in having a poor relationship with food.
We eat a healthy meal and pat ourselves on the back, but secretly wish for a bowl of ice cream because we’re still starving. We eat the bowl of ice cream, but not in front of anyone, justifying it with how well we did most of the day. We become bitter after the ice cream and slump into defeat because our dopamine receptors have settled down now and aren’t as demanding. The next day, we’re invited out to dinner and, remembering last night’s secret treat, we refuse to eat anything remotely close to the no-no’s on our chosen diet protocol which most times leaves us with really unfortunate options and a lot of empathy from those around us. But we pretend we like it, that we want it when inside, we really just want to eat the bun and fries.
What’s the common factor in all this? Stress. Stressing about the healthy meal. About the unhealthy meal. About what others might think about our choices, good or bad. The list goes on.
Take another look at the list above, from Psychology Today, through the lens of stress. See the connections?
They say that stress is the number one killer, and despite being a cliché, it may be the most accurate generalization out there.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to us to provide healthy, delicious alternatives so that the stress is gone. When we talk about our pizza crust, the practical benefits have one thing in common.
How can you change your relationship with food? Address the stress and eliminate it. That looks different for everyone.
When you sit down to a meal, or prepare your day, or step into that restaurant, ask yourself this – “What’s stressing me out right now?” Address it, and eliminate the stress, not necessarily the object or action causing it. Go easy on yourself, but pay attention as well. Just because you ate one fry doesn’t mean you have to eat the whole basket OR punish yourself for cheating.
To be clear, this isn’t us encouraging you to eat whatever you want with promises of health and longevity because you’re less stressed about it. It’s wise to be conscientious about food, but it defeats the purpose to stress out into disordered eating because of it. There’s a balance.
Many people will either give up entirely or pursue more dramatically the diet they are on once they fall off the wagon. What we’re saying is to get back on the wagon calmly, take a few breaths, and kick the dust off your feet. It’s okay. There is no fault. This is life. This is a relationship. May we learn to balance.