unhealthy food

Healthy Living: Advice for People Who Want a Healthier Relationship with Food

Sometimes, you take for granted how much fun it can be to eat out with friends and enjoy good food. You don’t realize how mindlessly easy it is to simply look for the hottest food spot in town (metaphorically speaking), sit down, call a waiter over, and ask for anything that catches your fancy.

Of course, when you and your friends are happily sated, there might be times you joke about how you’ll work out a few extra minutes to lose the extra calories you consumed or that you’ll diet tomorrow. Normal things said in jest—or are they?

For some people, eating out wherever or eating whatever they want is something they struggle with. It can be you or someone close to you. The topic of food and weight is something that can never be mindlessly easy for them to talk about because their mind hounds them with thoughts that eating this or that will make them hideously overweight. They might not eat enough to keep a healthy weight, or they may tend to binge eat and then vomit it all up in an effort to not gain those extra calories.

Eating disorders can affect anyone—male or female, young or old—and is a mental health condition caused by several factors. The usual symptom that someone has an eating disorder is a more-than-usual obsession with their body weight and food. This can be caused by genetics, personality traits such as being a perfectionist or wanting to control things to an extreme degree, or social pressure from the media saying one must be thin to be desirable.

If you want to develop a healthier relationship with food or feel like someone you know might find the advice here helpful, read on to find out more about the three common types of eating disorders and ways to find practical solutions.

girl with unhealthy relationship with food

Anorexia Nervosa

A common symptom of anorexia nervosa is when someone continues to think they’re overweight (and therefore undesirable, resulting in low self-esteem) even though they may be severely underweight. This intense fear of gaining weight leads to restrictive eating habits, a skewed body image, and an unwillingness to gain a healthier weight.

Some people with this disorder might have a hard time eating out or finishing their meals. Some common techniques one might see would be people having trouble finishing their food or binge eating only to purge the food they’ve eaten through forced vomiting, taking laxatives, or exercising too much.

Bulimia Nervosa

People with bulimia nervosa are not as underweight as those with anorexia nervosa, but they still do have a complicated relationship with food. Fueled by a fear of becoming overweight despite having a relatively normal body weight, people with this disorder usually go on a binge-eating session where they eat until they become painfully full. They then attempt to get rid of the discomfort they feel and to get rid of any excess calories consumed by inducing vomiting, fasting, using laxatives or diuretics, and overcompensating during exercise.

During their binge-eating sessions, patients often feel like they have no control over what they eat or that they can’t stop until they obtain that too-full feeling. This unhealthy cycle of overeating and then purging of food eaten can irritate the throat and gut and can cause acid reflux, among other negative side effects.

Binge Eating Disorder

As the name suggests, people struggling with this disorder have episodes where they eat unusually large amounts of food while feeling like they have no control over their appetite or what they eat. Some do this in secret due to the thoughts of guilt, shame, and fear they have over their behavior. What differentiates this disorder from bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa is that people with a binge-eating disorder do not normally purge what they eat, resulting in patients usually being obese or overweight.

Practical Ways to Help

An important thing that people should remember is that there is no shame in admitting they have an eating disorder. There is danger in denying that one has a problem in their relationship with food as extreme cases can lead to death since a lack of nutrients leads to multiple organ failures. The first step in getting better is acknowledging that one is not in a good place and wants to improve themselves.

There are many treatment programs for eating disorders but you can probably start by contacting your primary care physician who will refer you to other professionals who specialize in eating disorders. If you don’t have a physician to contact, consider researching and contacting support groups for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa treatment centers where they may be able to point you in the right direction.

Getting back on the right track when it comes to your health and fitness will be an uphill battle. But coming out at the other end will mean numerous benefits for yourself and your body. Eating right has been tested and proven to improve your quality of life, lessen your risks of contracting health diseases such as diabetes and heart problems, and help boost your immunity (among other benefits).

So, if you or a loved one are struggling with any eating disorders, give yourself or them the gift of a better future and reach out to people who can help you.