The Thin Line between Diet and Eating Disorder

A fork with a measuring tape wrapped around it.

The Thin Line between Diet and Eating Disorder

Diet. Many of us have been on them for the sole purpose of loosing weight to fit into that swimsuit or to look a certain way. When we diet, we have an end goal in mind. And once we reach that goal, the diet stops. Or, we stop the diet before we reach that number because the restricting becomes too much. Dieting can be a way for individuals to exercise control by counting calories and fat grams, limiting types and amounts of food and watching the weight drop. Focusing on diet and weight loss can be the perfect escape from true emotions and issues. Not only can focusing on dieting become distracting, but also dieters tend to have slower reaction time and poor concentration due to inadequate nutrition.

What is Normal?


Dieting has become common and normalized in our society. The U.S. weight loss market is a 70.3 billion dollar industry and it just keeps growing. The trend toward “thinness” is a new phenomenon in our history. Over 100 years ago, Americans were considered successful, healthy, and beautiful if they had excess body fat.


When you think of diet, what comes to mind? Is it Paleo, Atkins, or the new fad Blood Type Diet? Does it matter? Every diet promises a new you. “If only I could lose 10 more pounds?” The diet journey is filled with a desire to lose weight and often it is coupled with a wish to improve overall health and nutrition.


But when you don’t attain your goal, do you stop? Many Eating Disorders start out with the same intention-to lose weight. When the diet does not end, and food is all you can think about, it becomes much more than a diet. This is the slippery slope between a diet and an Eating Disorder. The Eating Disorder Association reports that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting and as many as 25% of those individuals will progress to a full-blown eating disorder.


The Dangers


Eating Disorders occur when we obsess about food or exercise, or both. When we count calories constantly. When we would rather binge on our favorite sugary or fat foods than be with our friends or loved ones. When we exercise to exhaustion because maybe we binged earlier that day. When we look in the mirror, and like nothing we see. Over time, our self-esteem and general outlook on life become dependent on our weight and appearance. This is a critical point, because nothing else matters.



The difference between Eating Disorders and Diet is, the Eating Disorder does not end when the goal weight is met because it is never met. A new goal will always be set.


What About You


What about you? Are you anxiously balancing the thin line between diet and disorder? Do you feel engrossed with weight, appearance, calories, the scale or the desire to be thinner? Do not let these obsessions take away another minute, day or year of your life. You are the most beautiful when you value yourself and are a friend to yourself. Only then will you be able to make real positive change.


Talk to someone you trust about your Eating Disorder. If you are ready to make a change, contact a Licensed Professional Counselor to start a plan for your recovery.

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