Disordered eating is an umbrella term used to describe any type of disturbed or unhealthy eating pattern, of which dieting tends to be the most common. Dieting involves the restriction of food intake to reduce weight, however as the body tries to compensate for reductions in food intake, a person frequently experiences food cravings that can lead to over-eating or binge eating. Weight gain from over-eating or binge-eating can then set off a pattern of “yoyo dieting” whereby a person moves through different diets or forms of restriction and experiences difficulty maintaining weight loss.
This pattern causes people to feel guilt or shame as they blame themselves for not having enough “self-control” or “will power” to sustain weight loss, not realising that there are several other factors at play. Other types of disordered eating include ruling out food groups or unbalanced eating, chronic use of diet pills or meal replacements, frequently skipping meals or overusing laxatives, diuretics or performance supplements. Disordered eating can reduce a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence, lead to social withdrawal and depression as well as impact a person’s overall health and physical functioning. Disordered eating also considerably increases a person’s risk for developing more serious eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or other specified feeding and eating disorder (OSFED).