There are so many diets it’s hard to keep track. From keto to paleo, there are rules and regulations for every type of diet. But, how does one know when these rules and regulations go too far? And, how can one identify between normal diet behaviors and restricted eating behaviors that are harmful to health?
Restrictive eating behaviors are usually a sign of something more serious. If you or a loved one is restricting food intake by completely avoiding specific food groups or even skipping meals altogether, it could mean the development of an eating disorder. Fortunately, when these behaviors are identified and addressed, individuals can get the help they need to develop healthier eating behaviors. And, confront the underlying causes of the development of these behaviors so they may be avoided in the future. Fortunately, there are some symptoms that can help to identify problematic restrictive eating behaviors in either your life or the life of a loved one.
Labeling food as either good or bad can be a sign of restrictive eating. Generally, a person will attribute a label, whether “bad”, “unclean”, or “unhealthy”, when in reality, all food can be used to manage good health. For example, even sugar has a place in a well-balanced diet. While too much sugar can be a bad thing, natural sugars can be digested and used for energy. It’s suggested that sugar attribute to 10% of our daily caloric intake. However, people struggling with restrictive eating patterns may avoid sugar altogether, labeling sugar as “bad”. And, may even avoid outlets to nourish the body with natural sugars like eating fruits.
One telltale sign of restrictive eating behaviors that can lead to eating disorders is eliminating entire food groups from a diet. All food groups are important to manage a healthy diet. So, eliminating dairy, fats, or carbohydrates can lead to other issues. While many diets require the elimination of specific foods, entire food groups shouldn’t be eliminated from a person’s diet unless there are health reasons specified by a physician.
Ultimately, fear revolving around food is a telltale sign that something deeper than just a diet is occurring. Some food phobias which can help to address problematic eating may include the fear of gaining weight, fear of eating in front of others, and a fear of not being able to control one’s eating behaviors. Sometimes, these fears can surface as fear of specific foods. For example, a person may have a fear of chocolate bars due to the underlying association with chocolate bars and gaining weight.
Many diets require eating during set times or making sure not to eat at certain times. While this is all well and good for a person who can manage their diet in a healthy way, it can be a telltale sign of restrictive eating for others. When an individual is overly concerned about eating times or refuses to eat altogether if they cannot eat at a certain time, it may be a symptom of a worse problem. Furthermore, if set times lead to a person not getting the nutrition they need on a daily basis, it can be a sign that harmful eating is prevalent.
Finally, withdrawing from friends and family is one of the most common symptoms of restrictive eating that leads to eating disorders. Basically, when people feel their diet and eating behaviors will become judged by those around them, they stop eating in front of others. And may even withdrawal from others altogether to avoid a conversation about eating or even meals with others.
Have you noticed that a family member, friend, or other loved one is portraying some or all of these behaviors? It may be time to talk to her about getting help for eating disorder behaviors.
Here at Willow Place for Women, we provide a structured environment in which women can learn about healthy eating, thought patterns, and behaviors to establish a healthy lifestyle and recovery. To learn more about our program and how we can help, contact us today.