5 Paleo for Women Approved New Year’s Resolutions

5 Paleo for Women Approved New Year’s Resolutions

Woah, 2017. I can’t believe you are almost here!

At the writing of this blog post I’m pondering the making of new years resolutions.  Are they healthy?  Are they harmful?  Are they something in between?

I’ve gone back and forth, but concluded that, like them or not, new year’s resolutions are a part of our culture, exciting and important motivators that can give someone the push they need to make valuable and lasting changes. 

I’m not into crash dieting (or “diets” of any kind really) and I’m not into resolutions that end up making people feel worse about themselves when they fail to live up to unreasonable standards.

But health IS important, and focusing on feeling better and doing better in the new year is something admirable, after all.

So here’s my list of 5 Paleo for Women Approved New Years Resolutions!

#1 Cook More

Cooking is something I usually despise doing and avoid if I can help it.  But it gets old eating canned salmon all the time.

As the new year begins, take some time to plan a daily schedule.

If you’re a detailed list maker, you’ll love it and if you’re not, you might feel caged in, but sketching out your time might show you ways you can be more efficient and leave room for home cooked meals.

Try buying books with meal and shopping plans already inside for you.  Practical Paleo (find it here) is one of my favorites, because it contains meal plans for every possible variation of paleo.

There are other great books too.  Stick with ones that focus on easy recipes that can be made quickly like Well Fed Weeknights (find it here).  Or try books that utilize less dishes for easier cleanup like One Pot Paleo or Paleo Slow Cooker.

Cooking more will mean eating more veggies, one of the biggest indicators of a healthy lifestyle, and will cut down on the amount of rancid oil, sugar and Omega 6 you eat, making you feel healthier, improving skin and cardiovascular health, and probably helping you lose some weight.

#2 Lose Weight

Speaking of losing weight…

I might catch some flack here.  You see, I believe strongly in body positivity and the body positive movement.  That means I do hold firm to a belief in health at every size.

However, I also believe that weight loss can be a valuable goal for certain people. 

Excessive adipose tissue does produce inflammatory responses in the body and does contribute to a range of health issues.  And whether we like it or not, it IS something that we need to consider in our modern world of convenience foods and obesity related illness. 

If you’ve become out of sync with your body, feel you need to lose excessive body weight (and remember that doesn’t mean you need to be stick thin!) the only real difficulty is finding a way to do it gently, positively, and with as little guilt and shame as possible.

That’s where my weight loss program, Weight Loss Unlocked comes in.

It’s designed to help you lose weight efficiently but mindfully, learning to listen to the natural signals of your body, rather than the mean girl in your head. 

It can help you follow those New Years Resolutions without the fad dieting that normally goes with it.  I’d suggest pairing it with a great paleo cookbook with meal plans like the ones I mentioned above.

Find Weight Loss Unlocked Here

#3 Focus on Self-Love

While most people choose to lose weight at the beginning of the new year, it’s just as important to choose to love.

We often become our worst enemies and meanest critics, beating ourselves up and tearing ourselves down. 

Disordered eating, low self-confidence, so many things stem from not loving ourselves. 

To give and recieve love in the new year, we’ve got to start with healing our own hearts.

There are many, many people out there happy to help you do it.

To discover the sexy, confident woman you really are, try reading my book Sexy By Nature.

If you’ve strugged with disordered eating and are ready to take control of negative thinking, try my friend Kayla’s program Starting the Path to Recovery and Discovery here.  Try reading When Food is Love (find it here), a classic for any emotional eater.

If you’re shy, perhaps try pushing yourself to do something that sounds fun but makes you a bit nervous- go out dancing or join friends at a party. 

And if you’re always out to avoid being alone at home, perhaps try a night in of reflective thinking and journaling (Let it Out is a great resource) and sit with some of those emotions. 

You’ll gain self-awareness and balance which we all could use in the new year!

#4  Breathe More

Breathing is something we do far too often without really thinking about it.

Most of us don’t even use the full capacity of our lungs, but only a tiny portion of them. 

And breathe, just like food, is so important to life itself, and quality of life. 

Improper breathing can do damage to the body just as poor food choices can.

Proper breathing, taking deep, long breaths, and long, smooth exhalations, can also be a form of meditation that has been shown to reduce stress, calm the nervous system and relax the mind. 

It’s an imperative especially for those with anxiety, and may help anyone with stress-flaring conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune conditions, and more. 

With the new year, I’m vowing to remember to breathe in positivity and breathe out negativity.  I hope you’ll do the same.

#5 Let Go

And as I work to breathe out negativity, I’m going to be trying my best to let go of anger, expectations, and arbitrary standards I place on myself and others. 

2016 was a hard year for many and it’s easy to pick out the bad things that happened and let them stew and boil within us.

We can focus on that negativity, that anger, and let it fester. 

Or we can consciously make the choice to let it go. 

I don’t have a 3 step program to help you do that (though I’m sure one probably exists!) but I think we should try it nonetheless.

Let’s focus our hearts and minds on the good in 2017 and work for peace, justice, and positivity in the new year.

I will.  I hope you will too. 


What are your new year’s resolutions?

--------

So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

5 Things I always do before holiday meals

5 Things I always do before holiday meals

As much as I always loved the holidays growing up, I also always dreaded them.

I knew that along with all my favorite things — like the hugs and the carols and the twinkle lights — there would also be my greatest demons: the apple pies, the peppermint fudge, and the oatmeal raisin cookies.

(Here, by the way, are my absolute  favorite paleo dessert cookbooks: Every Last Crumb: Paleo Bread and Beyond and The Paleo Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.)

Holidays meant feasts. 

For my relatives this was a great thing. They loved nothing more than sitting and delighting in each other’s company and good, hearty food.

But for me it was hell – because I was in a sea of temptations. I would always start out good. But then over time my willpower would wear down. I would have one nibble. And then another. And another.

And soon enough perhaps a whole dessert tray would be gone. I would have eaten a few pounds of sweets.

And absolutely hated myself for it.

Nowadays, however, I am so happy and relieved to report that this is no longer a problem. 

Might you happen to need a little – or a lot – of help making that shift yourself?

To that end, Here are 5 helpful things I always do before the holidays:

1. Absolutely nothing different

That’s right. Nothing.

There plenty of diet and health gurus out there who will tell you that the key to “getting through the holidays” is to fast.

I tried this for several years. I kept thinking that if I starved myself before big meals, then I wouldn’t feel so guilty if I overate a little bit.

Here’s why this doesn’t work:

When you fast, two things happen to you. One is physical, and one is psychological.

Physically, your body sends you a lot of hunger signals. When you don’t eat — and especially as a woman — your body really, really wants you to eat.

Psychologically, you begin to develop feelings of deprivation. You are hungry but you can’t eat. You feel deprived. And then you may, like me and like millions of other women, start to obsess over all the things you can’t have. The cookies, the candies, the tarts, the fruit cakes….they start to haunt you.

These two things mean that, by the time the cookie trays come out, your brain and body both are super eager to eat. It will be nearly impossible to eat “normally.”

This is not your fault. It is a biological fact. 

So don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Don’t let the gurus trick you. I change absolutely nothing about my eating in the days leading up to holiday parties or feasts. This has radically improved my ability to have peace of mind and enjoy them.

2. Eat whatever macronutrient ratio I want

Many diet gurus will tell you that it’s imperative to eat low carb before big feasts. The point is to maximize insulin sensitivity.

For  one thing – managing insulin sensitivity is a matter of nourishing one’s gut  health over a long-term period.

(Get my favorite fermented treats delivered to you by amazon on this page.)

For  another, a short-term low-carb fix isn’t going to necessarily make any impactful changes.

And finally, even if there is any slight  different in insulin sensitivity for a meal, it really won’t make a difference in the long run. I find it much more physically and psychologically healthy to just always focus on eating well most of the time. It’s not worth the 20% change in insulin sensitivity for a meal or a few days (if it even happens). It is much better for me too eat a whole range of macronutrients all of the time, and focus on their quality rather than on their quantity. 

3. Forbid pinching and mirror nitpicking

We may all be a lot of things, but one thing none of us are is objective.

Your perception of your physique is highly influenced by your psychological context. If you’re feeling guilty, you’ll probably pinch your hips and think “wow, I’m definitely thicker than I was yesterday.” You’ll think this is real. 

But there is a very good chance you will be wrong. 

I positively forbid myself from doing anything of the sort. I attempt to do this in my every day life, of course. But I do get more serious about it over the holidays are special occasions.

You cannot be objective about your body. (The scale won’t be objective either.)

So just let it go. I promise your body will still be there when you get back. 😉

4. Go to the gym, or not

I exercise on a reasonably regular basis. Usually this entails dancing, but I do lift weights from time to time. All of these things are good and important and healthy. They support healthy insulin resistance, healthy brain function, and healthy bones, lungs, and hearts.

I work out during the holidays if I feel like it.

If I don’t, I don’t.

Exercise is a part of a long-term plan in life that can wax and wane based on your needs for flexibility.

Sure, you might be in a “calorie deficit” if you work out on Christmas morning… but who the hell wants to work out on Christmas morning?

It’s fine if you don’t. The world won’t end.

Nothing will happen to me, or to you, in the long run if we let ourselves be flexible over the holidays.

5. Remind myself that love and relationships are the most important things

Something that’s very interesting to me about body image and food issues is how selfish they are.

This is not to say that they aren’t very real and very important things that need to be dealt with.

But they are also very much within ourselves, within our own hearts.

Throughout my entire life, I try to remind myself that the quality of my life, my goodness in the world, and my relationships are the most important things.

My self-respect and love most certainly matters… so much… but it is much easier for me to love and embrace my body when I think about it as the vehicle in which I have the capacity to love, rather than the idol that I need to worship and prevent from being judged.

During the holidays, when I focus on loving, supporting, hugging, and laughing with the people around me, I don’t have issues around food. I don’t worry about how much eggnog I drink. Instead, I feel loving and warm.

 

So this is it! I hope it helps. 🙂 What do you do during the holidays to make it through feeling safe and warm?

If you’re looking for some extra emotional support over the holidays, check out two of my favorite body image and love books: Why Weight and When Food is Love, both by Geneen Roth.

If you’re looking for a self-loving way to maintain a healthy weight after the holidays, check out my guide designed to help you do just that: Weight Loss Unlocked.

--------

So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

This Week in Paleo: Starting the Path to Recovery and Discovery

This Week in Paleo: Starting the Path to Recovery and Discovery

There comes a time in each person’s life when they must decipher their own motivations.

In fact, there are probably many times we do this as we seek to learn more about ourselves and come to a greater awareness of who we are.

In the paleo community, many of us swim dangerously close to the deep waters of eating disorders.

We  sometimes hide behind “healthy” food as a mechanism of control.

We sometimes fall a little too deep into our community until the world around us and the food around us begins to create deep fear.

We often worry about our waist size above all else, even our underlying health, even our relationships.

Is there a little (or big) part of you that has strayed into those deep waters?

Do you eat calories, macros or food?

Does food that isn’t “clean” or “paleo” cause you fear or anxiety?

Is being the “healthy role model” more important to you than anything else?

Is being “fat” one of your greatest fears?

Kaila Prins, an advocate for women’s health and a dear friend in the realm of disordered eating recovery, has been helping women face these issues for a long time, ever since she herself began to overcome the battle several years ago.

Her new program; Recover. Discover. Emerge. is changing the way women everywhere think about disordered eating and recovery.  

The program is intended to help those suffering disordered eating, exercise, and mindset issues that are holding them back from fully reaching a place of body acceptance.

The course is intended to introduce you, in two phases, to the world beyond “recovery.”

Kaila is the perfect person to be teaching this course and I’m so excited she is finally doing it!

She has always offered up her help and advice to women when they need it most and couldn’t be a kinder, more beautiful soul.

I know you will get out of her new program something amazing.

Some of us struggle with issues of disordered eating more than others, but it’s common for those of us who need the help most to feel the most resistant to it.

Are you ready for a change?

Are you ready to uncover the beauty of the path to “discovery”?

Are you tired of beating yourself up over the way you look or the food you put into your mouth?

Recover. Discover. Emerge. will help you.

Through a series of phases, Kaila will walk you through exactly how to overcome many specific issues related to body image, disordered eating, exercise bulimia, and more. 

By the end, you’ll have learned what to do to recover, but more than that, you’ll learn about the beautiful life waiting for you beyond recovery.

You’ll discover.  And then you’ll emerge.

The program starts October 9th. 

To learn more about this phenomenal opportunity, visit the program website for Recover. Discover. Emerge. here. 

--------

So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Want a healthy macronutrient ratio? Do the exact opposite of what you’ve been told

Want a healthy macronutrient ratio? Do the exact opposite of what you’ve been told

For my entire life, I feel like I’ve been given nothing but dietary limits.

Limit meals to 3 per day. Limit snacks to 1 per day. Limit dessert to 1 per day. Limit fruits to 3 per day. Limit fat to 30 grams per day. Limit carbs to 50 grams per day. Limit calories to 1200 per day. Just kidding. Limit calories to 800 per day.

Don’t do this, don’t do that.

Diet in America–the healthy diet everyone always talks about–is always about a limit. It’s about a number. It’s about a prescription, a border, a container. The most trending diet searched on Google in 2015 was the “20/20” diet.

Diet in America gives you a restrictive number, and it’s supposed to be some silver bullet. It combines two of America’s favorite things–numbers and willpower! (I wish I were joking, but I’m not.)

It says: hit this target, strive for this target, work for this target. The more hardcore you are, the better you are. The more hardcore you are, the more willpower you’ll have, and the more the rewards are within your reach. If only you can manage to restrict yourself this much, to this precise amount, you will finally be the healthy, thin woman you always deserved to be. 

(Says Oprah, anyway.)

So this is what diets are all about.

This is what, by and large, paleo is about, too.

Paleo talks so much about macronutrients. And nearly every single bit of advice you will ever hear about macronutrients in the paleosphere is that you should “keep them to” some level. It’s carbs, by the way, that paleo is mostly worried about… other worlds, like vegetarianism, do the same thing with fat.

“Keep carbs low,” they say.

“Limit fruits to a small handful of berries a day.”

“Be sure not to have too much.”

“Go ahead and eat carbs, but not too much.”

“Have some carbs, but only post-workout.”

“Don’t eat more than 200 grams of carbs a day, or else you’re in the “danger zone” with “insidious weight gain.””

You might think things were different.

These days, paleo talks the big talk. It says that it’s progressive about macronutrients.

But all it does is limit them in a different way. 

Instead of saying, “keep carbs under 30 grams a day” it says, instead, “only eat carbs in the evening meal,” or something. Between 6 and 8 pm. 4 hours before bedtime, they say.

To which I say,

“hell no.”

Don’t set macronutrient maximums, set macronutrient minimums

From my point of view, the right thing to do is to throw dietary maximums out the window.

Let’s stop talking about food like it’s something to be corralled.

Let’s stop talking about food like it’s a problem.

Let’s stop talking about food like an indulgence. 

Instead, let’s talk about food like it’s healthy. Let’s talk about food like it’s energy, and fuel. Let’s talk about food like it’s nourishment.

You need food in order to reproduce. You need food in order to be active. You need food into order to feel happy, to feel good, to be kind, to go on adventures, and to live your life.

Protein is a part of this. Fat is a part of this. Carbs are a part of this. Calories are a part of this.

And none of those things (unless you have some specific health condition) should be restricted. None of those things merit fear.

They are all just different components of food, and food is that which gives us life.

In fact, it is much more unhealthy to undereat than it is to overeat. I would rather see a woman eat 400 grams of good, natural carbohydrates a day than 4…. 4000 calories instead of 40.

So let’s stop setting macronutrient maximums, and instead set minimums.

Fat grams, per day, should be at an absolute minimum 30 grams. That is an absolute basement minimum, and should ideally be at least 45 or 50 grams a day as a minimum.

Protein should be 50 grams daily, minimum, for women (and more for athletes).

Carbohydrates should be 100 grams daily, minimum, for women (and more for athletes). If you have a particular health condition such as diabetes or really want to be “low carb,” then 50 grams daily should probably be reasonably sustainble for you. But let’s be real. Most of us don’t need to do that. At all.

Calories should be 2000 minimum, daily. For women.

There, I said it. 2000 calories a day. I’m done pretending like it’s good or okay to eat less. I’m done rationalizing our restrictive eating behaviors. I’m done thinking that it’s okay to undereat, just because society says you don’t deserve to eat, or to have meat on your bones. You can eat less than 2000 calories a day and survive, certainly. And I want you to eat when you are hungry and stop when you feel good and full. But if you ever dip below 2000 calories a day because you don’t feel good about yourself, I hope that you read this post, and read my other posts on self-love, and read my book Sexy by Nature, and look at yourself in the mirror every day and say “I am hot. I am worthy. I am smart. I am capable. I am amazing, and lovable.” Because you are, and I’ll be damned if I let a nutrition label or a jean size or a nasty comment shouted at you from a passing vehicle ever let you feel otherwise.

Eat as many carbs as you want! Eat as much fat! Eat as much volulme! At whatever time of day you want! 

I don’t care! The universe doesn’t care! Your body doesn’t particularly care! I mean certainly, your body cares. But it can be healthy with carbs, healthy with fats, healthy with protein, and healthy with varying calories, eaten at any time of the day! Really!

So in my opinion, the healthy thing to do is to set minimums. The smart thing to do is to set minimums.  The loving thing to do is to set minimums.

When you do this–when you set minimums instead of maximums–you start to think of food as something you should be welcoming into your life with open arms. You think of food as nourishment. You think of food as a gift, and something to be cherished.

And then yourself, as a being worthy of that gift.

 

For  my post on whether you can love yourself and lose weight, check it out, here.

For my post on why I love healthy at every size, check it out, here.

 

 

So there it is. My feelings about macronutrients today. I’m feeling fiery. How about  you? What do you think of this idea? How does it work for you?

 

Tired of living with macronutrient limits?  Here's why setting a minimum is a MUCH better idea.

 

 

 

 

--------

So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

5 Reasons to Stop Counting Calories Right Now

5 Reasons to Stop Counting Calories Right Now

Of all the ways in which people try to lose weight in America today, counting calories is probably the most popular.

It is also probably one of the most misguided.

Well, I’m not sure I can say that, given that I know that something called The Grapefruit Diet exists.

Nevertheless, so far as I am concerned, calorie counting is extremely flawed. It is bad for health. It’s bad for spirit. And it’s bad for weight loss. Here are some reasons why — though the list is by no means exhaustive.

1) Counting calories is time consuming

Counting calories is time consuming. You either have to search for calorie amounts on google for every food you eat, or carry around one of those little pocket calorie guides. I used to do that. Nothing like a good old-fashioned calorie counter in your back pocket.

Then you have to measure your food, and then do math. 

And you can’t simply weight in after the fact, but need to parcel out your food beforehand, so you can make your target goals. Of course, you may be one of the more loosey goosey calorie counters and simply tally how much you’ve eaten after the fact, but that’s time consuming too because after you’ve done all the math you will probably spend a fair bit of time worrying about it.

Moreover, one of the most obnoxious things about calorie counting (and body image issues in general) is that it’s such a mental time drain. You have so many creative, brilliant things to bring to the world! What a terrible drag it would be to dampen that light and energy so that it can be channeled toward grape rationing.

I can’t even.

2. Energy needs vary by day

Part of the reason calorie regimens are so dangerous is that they impose strict rules on daily eating, even though energy needs vary greatly day by day.

Energy needs vary for a whole slew of reasons: exercise, how much you’ve slept, whether you’ve worked out recently and are rebuilding muscle, how much stress you are under, how much time you spend standing or walking on any given day, if you are sick and how active your immune system is at the time, and even the time of the menstrual cycle are all important factors.

Each of these variables means that every day requires a different number of calories to be eaten.

When calorie counting, you will almost certainly, every single day, miss that mark.

This is a problem physically because it can teach you to ignore your body’s basic hunger drives. Doing so may signal to your body that you are starving yourself at times, or overeating at others. When you are out of sync with your body’s caloric needs, you open yourself up to stress hormone problems and sex hormone problems, which can lead to infertility, irregular periods, mood swings, low libido, and many other problems down the line.

This is also a problem mentally because any sort of leftover hunger or restrictive feelings can make you feel deprived, which can feed feelings of deprivation, frustration, yearning, and obsession.

Much easier than dealing with the physical and psychological problems that come from calorie counting is simply learning to interpret and eat in harmony with your body’s hunger drives. It may take time and patience to learn, but the rewards are great.

3. It’s controlling aspect is addictive

Most people who become serious calorie counters also have type A personalities. They are perfectionists. They like to have their worlds managed in particular little boxes which can be controlled and manipulated to their liking.

Sometimes, people start to get a high on this kind of control. I was definitely one of them. I loved when I could demonstrate my mastery of the world, my moral superiority, and my discipline. I felt the power in myself, and I delighted when I could demonstrate that kind of control in front of others, too. Counting calories was a great way for me to feel like I had  control over myself, my bood, and my body. I loved the feeling.

My humble advice in this regard is to be mindful about it. Do not let the obsession overtake you, and be wary of the ways in which it can. Avoiding calorie counting altogether is the best way to do this. Maybe knowing that type A perfectionism underlies your calorie counting habit can help you deconstruct it, and ultimately let go.

4. It can make you care more about weight than health

One of the major problems of calorie counting is that it prioritizes weight over health.

Calorie counting is all about weight loss (and that’s not to say it’s effective, more on which in the next point).

It gives priority to eating less. The smart, effective, and healthful way of eating would instead be to give priority to eating better. 

In fact, it can be actively detrimental to your health to make weight loss your focus over and above high quality eating. Our society thinks that skinnier people are healthier, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Thin people regularly get diagnosed with diseases and die early deaths; overweight people regularly live long, healthy lives. Sometimes, being overweight actually increases your health.

5. It will in all likelihood make you gain weight in the long run

Calorie counting is inherently contradictory. It may make you think that you are going to lose weight, but  in actuality most people who lose weight by calorie counting eventually gain it back.

Why?

When you prioritize quantity over quality, it is nearly impossible to maintain. This is for a wide variety of reasons:

For one, high quality nutrition helps you feel full. The body sometimes feels hungry specifically because it is missing out on important nutrients. Focusing on high quality foods in this way will help you feel both healthier and more satisfied by your food.

For another, rigidly controlling food intake forces the body to be in a permanent state of hunger, to some degree or another. Doing this causes the body to up-regulate it’s production of hunger-stimulating hormones. The more of these hormones you have swimming in your blood, the hungrier you will feel, and the more you will feel like you need to eat. When you eventually cave to these increasingly pressing signals, you will in all likelihood overeat, since the hunger signals that have built up are so strong.

Once you overeat, if you are a calorie counter you will in all likelihood restrict your calorie allowance for the following day even more, which can further exacerbate the hunger hormone problem, thus sending you into a spiral of restriction and overeating.

This kind of pattern, in which the body is restricted and then overeats, causes weight gain. In a state of restriction, the metabolism slows down. Then when you overeat, you store even more fat than you would have before.

Slowed metabolisms are a very real problem for being who diet or have dieted in their past. It is very hard to overcome a slow metabolism once it sets in from calorie counting. The ideal situation would be to never restrict calories in the first place. If that can’t be avoided, you can help boost your metabolism by starting to eat as intuitively as possible, and relaxing the controlling grip you have on your diet and your body.

It is totally possible to lose weight without counting calories. In fact, it  is even more effective and permanent not to.

 

Also, If you want to lose weight, but are wary of calorie counting  (and for good reason!), I provide a great way for loosely keeping track of your food intake without counting calories in my program for weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s Solution.  

 

And that’s a wrap for me! What do you think? There are plenty more reasons to never count calories again! What are yours?

 

Pin It:

countcaloriesPIN

--------

So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, and why it matters to you

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, and why it matters to you

The other day I walked past a table in the dining hall and heard a girl say, “I used to purge once in a while but I was never bulimic.

One time a male friend said to me “what you feel sounds serious but at least it isn’t a real eating disorder.”

I once sat incredulously next to one of my girlfriends as she said to another “you haven’t eaten today at all, you’re like totally anorexic.”

For so many reasons, it’s important that we be very clear about  what the difference is between an eating disorder and disordered eating.

In this post today I’ll demonstrate the difference, and then talk about why it’s so important, and what we should do with it in our own lives.

What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a psychological disorder officially classified in the one document regarded as the world authority on mental disorders, the DSM. The DSM is re-issued periodically. The most recent issue was number V, and it came out just last year.

There are four diagnoses of eating disorders in the DSM: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and eating disorder not otherwise specificed. Each of these disorders has specific criteria:

Anorexia:

  •  Restriction of energy intake relative to requirements leading to a significantly low body weight in the context of age, sex, developmental trajectory, and physical health.
  •  Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight.
  • Disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced, undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation, or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight.

Bulimia:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating characterized by BOTH of the following:
    • Eating in a discrete amount of time (within a 2 hour period)large amounts of food.
    • Sense of lack of control over eating during an episode.
  • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain (purging).
  • The binge eating and compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least once a week for three months.
  • Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
  • The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia nervosa.

Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
    • eating, in a discrete period of time (for example, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
    • a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (for example, a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
  • The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • eating much more rapidly than normal
    • eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    • eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
    • feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterwards
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.
  • The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (for example, purging) and does not occur exclusively during the course Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

 

All of which is to say that eating disorders are quite specific, and identifying someone’s behavior as such has important implications for the type of treatment they receive, the recommendations their doctors make, and the way in which their health insurance companies handle them.

What is disordered eating then?

Disordered eating is pretty much all neurotic or mentally unhealthy ways of interacting with food that do not fall under these set criteria.

Whereas 0.5% of American women suffer from anorexia and 2.5% of women from bulimia (and both of which having higher rates in college, statistics from here),  it is estimated that more than 50% of Americans suffer from some sort of negative or disordered behavior around food. People who have clinical eating disorders are a small subset of a very large group of people who struggle with food.

Symptoms of disordered eating may include behavior commonly associated with eating disorders, such as food restriction, binge eating, purging (via self induced vomiting or excessive exercise, and use of diet pills and/ or laxatives).  Disordered eating may also be indicated by:

  • Yo yo dieting
  • Obsession with diets
  • Self worth or self esteem based highly or even exclusively on body shape and weight
  • A disturbance in the way one experiences their body i.e. a person who falls in a healthy weight range, but continues to feel that they are overweight
  • Excessive or rigid exercise routine
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Orthorexic behaviors, an obsesion with ‘clean’ eating
  • Rigid adherence to a particular dietary paradigm
  • Anxiety about certain foods or food groups
  • A rigid approach to eating, such as only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times, refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating is one of degree

The motivations that someone may have for developing an eating disorder are highly complex. We could talk about body image and food issues all day long, and that very well often plays a role in eating disorders. Yet more complex and varied psychological issues often play a role: significant trauma, childhood trauma, dysfunctional behaviors in the family, feelings of helplessness and lack of control, social anxiety, sexual and emotional abuse and many other problems often come into play. It is also often hypothesized that genetics may play a role in the development of eating disorders, making some people more susceptible to developing them than others.

These motivations result in behaviors that are demonstrably physically harmful to the person enacting them. Significant nutrient depletion and caloric deprivation are problems for anorexia, which very often lead to death in the end. For bulimia, metabolic derangement may result, and also many gastrointestinal disorders, stomach acid issues, and the decay of tooth enable. Binge eating disorder may also have significant physiological effects as bingeing cycles can also seriously harm the gut and the body’s metabolism.

In some sense, you could say that these severe psychological issues and severe physical problems are what distinguish eating disorders from disordered eating. Yet when we take a good, hard look at disordered eating we find that the same problems abound, simply with a result in less extreme eating behaviors. Whoever suffers the “most psychological damage” could never truly be evaluated.

Why this matters to all of us

Problems with eating exist on a spectrum. On one far end of the spectrum are severe eating disorders. On the other end of the spectrum is a perfectly mentally happy and peaceful person.

But pretty much all of us exist somewhere in the range in between.

Even if someone does not technically “have a disorder,” she may be quite near disorders on the spectrum. And even if in some particular regard she manages to escape the “official disorder,” say, because she doesn’t meet the criteria of bingeing often enough, she still may be under a truly significant amount of emotional distress and need real help. This help could come from friends, or it could come from a therapist.

Unfortunately, today in our culture in order for an individual to get the most powerful treatment she must qualify as having a precise disorder. This is unfortunate, and I believe the DSM and psychological and psychiatric facilities need to work together in order to be more inclusive for their treatments for people who do not meet rigid criteria.

Fortunately, most psychologists I believe are attuned to the potential severity of mental pain regardless of whether someone meets the specific criteria, and so will be able to provide high quality help to the people who need it.

I wanted to raise these points today because I believe we need to have more sympathy for everybody: more sympathy for those with official disorders, more sympathy for those who don’t qualify as having disorders, and more sympathy for ourselves. This last point is particularly important for many of us: just because our problems aren’t “official” doesn’t mean they aren’t problems. It doesn’t mean they aren’t worth addressing. They are. They truly are.

And, as with all psychological problems, with both support from our therapists, our friends, our communities, and whoever we may find ourselves amongst, and with unending forgiveness and patience for ourselves, we really can overcome the problems. The first step is acknowledging that they are real, and that we are not alone.

 

What do you think? Questions, comments, concerns, communal love? Love my ideas, hate them? I live for your thoughts!

The difference between eating disorders and disordered eating, and why it matters to you | Paleo for Women

--------

So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.