How to Combat Disorderly Eating & Chronic Dieting Behaviours

We live in a world that’s normalised a thin body shape (amongst other things) and made any other shape not only abnormal but undesirable for men and women all over.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. These disorders affect mostly women over 50, students and transgender college students. Genetics, environmental factors, and personality traits all combine to create risk for an eating disorder.

While a lot of work goes into working with people who have eating disorders, it’s also important to focus on those people who deal with what comes before a serious eating disorder: body dissatisfaction, anxiety that comes with a harmful relationship with food, chronic dieting, and a dysfunctional wellness industry.

Below are some ways to recognise disorderly eating and chronic dieting behaviours:

  • Constant comparing your body to others who are glamorised on media platforms (like instagram or outdoor advertising)

  • Years of chronic or yo-yo dieting

  • Cravings that take over food choices

  • Eating more or less than is comfortable for the body

  • Guilt and/or shame after eating

  • Excessive planning and thinking about food

  • Fear of food and weight

  • Obsession with weight and weighing oneself

  • Avoiding mirrors or reflections

The thing is, actions like this can come from many different ways. It can come from a place of trauma and using disorderly eating as a way to ”take control” of your life, if other aspects can’t be controlled. It could also be from societal pressures that we as humans can only be loved and respected by others if we look a certain way. Or, it can come genetically and what you’ve seen around you in your household growing up. Whatever it may be, more than often, you or someone you know is dealing with at least some of the above, and the rising “wellness industry” isn’t helping. Seeing constant before/after photos making it seem like the body they originally had wasn’t good enough and re-enforcing a thin culture.

It takes a lot to realise you may be suffering from disorderly eating behaviours and patters, and it takes even more to unlearn everything you’ve learned about how you should look and how you should feel in your body.

Some ways to combat disorderly eating & chronic dieting behaviours:

  • Learn about proper nutrition and health - there’s a lot of misinformation out there and following a credible nutritionist and dietitian can direct you on the right path.

    • I made free macro cheat sheets to bring with you to the grocery store that you can get here.

  • Practice self-love every day

    • It can be really hard to love yourself. Life has a funny way of trying to bring us down every day, and everyone has their own experiences that lower our self-love with different ways of dealing with it.

    • Take a look in the mirror every day and name 3 things you love about yourself. This can be hard to begin with, but with time it will get easier and you’ll find more and more things you love.

    • Accept yourself as you are and all the things you’ve learned along the way to get you where you are. Empathise with yourself. You are enough and you’re doing your best.

  • Make self-care a priority!

    • Prioritise yourself.

    • Focus on health, proper nutrition and exercise!

    • Say no when you need to.

    • Get your nails and hair done. Pay for a spa package because you deserve it (or something else to treat yourself).

    • Spend your time with people who not only support you but believe in you to be the person you want to be.

    • Set goals that excite you and make small steps every day to get there!

  • When you’re dealing with times of stress, try some techniques to reduce it as much as possible

    • I share 14 tips for reducing stress here.

  • Give yourself the space to deal with your emotions

    • If you’re triggered with strong emotions or feelings because of something that happened or something someone said, allow yourself to feel all those emotions and don’t suppress them. Practice patience and an understanding that this is not who you truly are. Soon it will fade

  • Speak to a professional

    • I can’t stress the importance of this. At the end of the day, professionals are highly trained to work with you through various techniques and theories that have been tried and tested for years. There should never be any feelings of shame seeking out a professional to work on yourself.

    • It’s good to speak to friends about any negative feelings you’re having, but at the end of the day they usually have a bias and may not necessarily give the best advice. Often, advice isn’t going to help you, it’s using guided techniques and experiments with yourself that will push you forward!

Don’t forget: you deserve better and you look great as you are.

Be kind to yourself and acknowledge everything you go through in this world, as it can really be a mess and keeping your head straight 100% of the time is near impossible.

At the end of the day, you are first and foremost priority over everything.

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Chelsey Labusch