I’m answering a listener question for today’s episode and the question is… “hi, Victoria! I was wondering if you could do a podcast episode on imposter syndrome with eating disorders. I have been struggling a lot with regard to whether or not I deserve help or actually fall under the label of having an eating disorder because I’m not physically sick. I guess I feel like because I binge eat, I feel like I’m not malnourished or physically sick so how can I fall under the category? I’m not thin either so it’s hard to feel like I can actually use the title or accept that I have an eating disorder.”
- firstly 85% of people with eating disorders are not underweight
- secondly, you can be underweight at any weight regardless of what your BMI states
- you deserve help regardless of whether you’ve been diagnosed with an ED. EVERYONE deserves help and support with anything they’re struggling with.
- An eating disorder is a mental disorder defined by abnormal eating behaviours that negatively affect a person’s physical or mental health.
- It doesn’t matter if you’ve been diagnosed or labelled with an ED. If your relationship with food and your body is negatively impacting your life then you need help. You don’t have to live this way.
“An eating disorder is a mental disorder defined by abnormal eating behaviours that negatively affect a person’s physical or mental health.”
What is “normal”? To decipher what normal eating is, it’s worth taking a look at what “disorder” means… “disorder means to disrupt the systematic functioning of something“.
In terms of eating, in the mind of Victoria, this would translate to “to suppress the biological needs of the body and to shame oneself over and over again until self-flagellation is a natural response to eating.” That’s disordered.
- Eating is not supposed to be stressful, in fact, naturally, the opposite is true. Eating is supposed to be relaxing (rest and digest), pleasurable (taste buds), connecting (family time) and as easy and as effortless as going for a pee or putting a jumper on when you’re cold… eating is a natural biological need.
When you’re in a disorder, it’s not that… unfortunately most people in the western world are living with disordered eating without thinking it’s a disorder because society celebrates disordered eating behaviours!
I literally thought you were born and so therefore you spend your life dieting or controlling your food… no, that’s not a condition of being born and living a life…!
- The difference between disordered eating and an eating disorder is the severity of how negatively it is impacting someone’s life. If your relationship with food and your body stops you from living and “doing life” and you’re living in an anxiety hellhole because of it then you have an eating disorder.
- There’s a slight difference between the average “yo-yo dieter” and someone who is in the diet binge cycle. And that difference is “shame” and how much of the person’s happiness is dependant on the way their food or body looks…
The good news is you can become “normal” around food and connect back to your natural biological needs around food and tune in to your hunger and fullness cues ONLY WHEN:
- You are eating enough food for your body
- When you have healed your emotional relationship to food and
- When you practice body acceptance on the daily…
- Just as the hair under your armpits constantly continues to grow back no matter how much you shave – your natural hunger and fullness signals come back when you get out of the disorder.
- The lovely listener says that she’s not physically sick in terms of her not being malnourished… you don’t have to be underweight to be malnourished. You can be “overweight” and malnourished.
Malnutrition is a serious condition that happens when your diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients. It means “poor nutrition” and can refer to: undernutrition – not getting enough nutrients.
You can literally be eating low-calorie options of things that lack proper nourishment or/and be eating chocolate all day and not be “underweight” yet you can still be malnourished if you’re not getting enough nourishment from your food. Malnourishment isn’t dependent on weight.
- You’re binge eating for a reason and that reason is either you’re physically restricting or/and you’re emotionally restricting.
Emotional restriction is simply negatively judging what you eat – which unconsciously implies that you “need to not do that in the future”.
- You deserve to have a normal relationship with food and be happy and healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. Physical health is worth nothing without mental health…
- “Is it bad enough to change or is it good enough to stay…?”
Binge eating is a restrictive eating disorder
I haven’t met a single person who binge eats who:
- is not currently physically or emotionally restricting
- or has never previously physically or emotionally restricted… whether that’s purposefully or not… eg- growing up poor with little access to food.
Binge eating is a healthy natural response to restriction. Binge eating does not happen without restriction.
Emotional eating is not the same as binge eating but it can quickly spiral into binge eating if the person is judging themselves for eating emotionally.
- If you try to stop emotionally eating by using willpower then you’re screwed bc that’s restriction.
- You need to add in other ways to emotionally soothe, not try to eliminate emotional eating.
- Those that have dieted before, turn to food for emotional comfort. Those that haven’t, turn to other things such as shopping, scrolling or actually not eating…
- Ideally, you solve the underlying emotional problem.
So the answer to your Q dear listener is “Yes, you are sick enough to get help. You deserve to get help. You deserve to live a life free and happy in your body and with a peaceful and pleasurable relationship with food.”
- Binge eating is a serious restrictive eating disorder and actually bingeing is saving your ass.
If you’d like help with your journey to food freedom and body love I have 3 different ways you can come into my world.