Is It Diet Or An Eating Disorder?

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Suffering from anorexia. Cropped image of girl trying to put a pea on the fork

All of us diet from time to time or have dieted at some point in our lives when it was really required. However, if you find yourself or a loved one perpetually on some diet or the other – even though people around you think that you or your loved one is thin and does not need to diet, then you or your loved one could be suffering from a compulsive eating disorder.

Very often, eating disorders start with dieting. This does not mean it is wrong to diet. There is nothing wrong with dieting – as long as it is aimed at maintaining or achieving a healthy body weight and is done the right way – eating and/or exercising in moderation. However, when becoming and/or staying thin becomes all that matters – so much so that you go to any extreme to be thin – it could be a sign of having or developing an eating disorder.

What differentiates whether or not you are on a diet, as opposed to having an eating disorder, is that individuals suffering from eating disorders are obsessed with the numbers on the weighing scale and being thin. They would go to any extreme to be thin without caring about their health. How much they weigh or how thin they are means so much to them that their happiness hinges on their weight, and how much they weigh affects their mood. This is not to say that individuals who are on a diet would not feel happy if they lost weight – they surely would. But their happiness does not hinge on their weight and weight loss. Also, unlike those individuals with eating disorders, they would stop dieting to reach a healthy weight. However, when it comes to individuals with eating disorders, there is no stopping the so-called dieting or weight loss. Even if the scale dips lower and lower, an individual with an eating disorder continues to be as obsessed about being thin and losing weight, if not more so.

The underlying problem in Individuals with eating disorders is low self-esteem. Controlling their weight and staying thin boosts their self-esteem of these individuals. Their self-esteem is entirely dependent on how much they weigh and how thin they are. Additionally, it has been seen that many individuals with eating disorders control their eating and weight because they are unhappy with life and have no control over those aspects of their life. Controlling their eating and weight gives them a sense of achievement and makes them feel in control. Unlike individuals who are dieting, individuals with eating disorders control their food and weight in an effort to control their lives and their emotions, not just healthy body weight!

Are you wondering whether you are just dieting or suffering from an eating disorder? Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you think you would be happy if only you weighed a certain number of pounds?
  • Is your self-esteem entirely dependent on your weight and how thin you look?
  • Would you go to any extreme to be thin, even at the cost of your health?

If yes, then you might be the victim of an eating disorder rather than just on a diet, and we recommend you consult your doctor, or a professional, to find it to be sure.