Approximately one million Australians are living with a diagnosed eating disorder (3% anorexia nervosa, 12% bulimia nervosa, 47% binge eating disorder (BED) and 38% other eating disorders). Currently however, what we are commonly seeing in clinic is in fact what we call “disordered eating”.
You can read more about types of eating disorders and their classification here
Disordered eating is consistent with behaviours such as restriction, binge eating, vomiting and laxative use that do not meet the criteria for an eating disorder. Approximately a third (31.6%) of Australian adolescents engage in disordered eating behaviours annually!
What other types of disordered eating behaviours do we see in clinic?
Please note, one behaviour does not classify disordered eating! It can be a combination of behaviours and is of an individual nature.
Food avoidance: Commonly we see people completely cutting foods out of their diet based upon their belief system and an inability to make dietary changes based upon fear. For example, cutting out all carbohydrates with the fear that eating these foods will cause them to gain weight.
Obsessive calorie counting: There are times where unfortunately this tool can have negative consequences for our clients. In some scenarios they may not even care much about the food quality, they are just trying to meet their numbers.
Exercising to “work off food”: This can be quite common, especially in adolescent populations.
Complete rigidity and routine with no flexibility: If clients are unable to often stray away from the same meals and snacks daily or spontaneous enjoy food outside of their normal, this can be a bit of a red flag.
Irregular eating: This could swing from a couple of huge days of eating out and consuming alcohol over the weekend to restriction come Monday – with many meals skipped in an attempt to even out intake.
Health implications of disordered eating:
1. Inadequate dietary intake of macro or micro nutrients leading to nutrient deficiencies such as low iron
2. Weight gain influencing chronic disease risk factors
3. Weight loss resulting in hormonal regularities, impacting menstrual function and fertility or sex drive
4. Social isolation impacting mental health
5. Lack of concentration, attention and depressed mood
6. Progression to an eating disorder which has even more serious implications
The Good News: Dietitians are experienced at supporting clients recovering from both eating disorders and disordered eating! Interested? Book in here with our Dietitian Tatiana
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