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Is It A Diet or an Eating Disorder?


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I am sometimes asked how to tell the difference.  While from a professional's point of view, it is pretty clear cut, it's not always the case for a concerned family member or friend of someone suspected of having an Eating Disorder. Or even for a person who has an Eating Disorder. Before I was diagnosed, I didn't realize it myself. I was in denial and it took a supervisor who had herself recovered from an ED to show me that I had one. In its early stages, my physician even missed it. I think this general list can be helpful in discerning the difference between an ED and a diet for the nonprofessional. 
The difference between weight-loss diets and eating disorders can be difficult to identify but it generally falls where food-related behaviors cease to promote good health.
1. Dieting is integrated into one's life without interfering with one's responsibilities or everyday activities. Eating Disorders take control of people's lives.
2. Healthy dieters take a balanced approach to weight loss, combining healthy eating practices with daily exercise, and usually understand that dieting takes time. Those with an Eating Disorder may be obsessed with losing weight and will often do whatever it takes to shed pounds as quickly as possible.
3. People on diets may feel uneasy with their appearance, and may strongly desire to lose weight, but they tend to view themselves realistically. People with eating disorders, on the other hand, often have distorted views and may see themselves as overweight no matter what size they are.
4. Healthy dieters generally do not feel depressed or down on themselves when they mess up. People with eating disorders are often depressed and filled with regret and self-loathing when they fail to live up to the impossibly high standards they set for themselves.
5. Dieting can be a fun social activity. People with eating disorders usually suffer alone and do not enjoy what they do.
6. Healthy dieting should make the person stronger and fitter in many respects. Eating disorder sufferers often become progressively less healthy, damaging their bodies in significant ways.
7.  People with eating disorders diet even when they are at a healthy weight and would not benefit from weight loss. Healthy dieters seek to maintain weight when their goal is reached.
Source: The Cambridge Eating Disorder Center











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