What is an Eating Disorder

Last spring I spent a lot of time thinking about what an eating disorder was while engaging in some conversations and some google hangouts with the beautiful, Kendra from the True You Project. I had meant to write a post on the topic, but somehow I never quite got to it… Finally, I put my thoughts into action:

Let’s look at disorder… dis-order.

dis·or·der /disˈôrdər/


a state of confusion

“tiresome days of mess and disorder”

Okay, okay…yes, I guess having an eating disorder often feel like tiresome days of mess. But still: disorder {as in a mental disorder} refers to that something is wrong, abnormal and broken. But I like to look at things from a holistic perspective, from an empowering approach: people are not broken, we may struggle with problems, issues that trying to protect us and teach us, but everything has it’s reasons. We are perfectly whole with and including our problems. Disorder also refers to the lack of “order”. But what is order? Who defines order? How do you define order? Especially speaking about eating? There is not such thing and order or normal, therefore disorder or abnormal (as mental disorders are talked about in abnormal psychology!) don’t exist either.

Now let’s take it a step further… An eating disorder…

Even if they are disorders, or rather dis-orders, but they are NOT about food!!! Of course, as a health coach well-educated of nutrition, I know that dieting, starvation, lack of nutrients, illnesses or even food sensitivities can lead to binges. I know that focusing on eating healthy, changing our diets can lead to orthorexia or anorexia. So yes, not eating well certainly adds to the cycle of eating disorders. Eating disorders are also not about body image, the influence of the media, the influence of certain sports and so on. Oh, sure, thinspo website, crazy thin models, unrealistic bodies in magazines, sports like running or gymnastics and so on can again certainly feed eating disorders. But then why isn’t every dancer anorexic, why isn’t every runner suffering EDNOS, why isn’t every girl who looks at magazines have body image issues to such extent that they develop an eating disorder, why isn’t every girl want to be skinny, and why… (I digress)? Heck, it is not even about our childhood wounds, history of abuse, and bad experiences…it is more about how we reacted to them, how we experienced them and how we ended up feeling about ourselves and our lives as result. Because eating disorders (and body image issues and other self-destructive behaviors) are about something deeper than food, eating and our looks.

Eating disorders are about:

  • our unmet need of love

  • our low self-esteem

  • our lack of or struggle with self-love

  • our true selves, our true identity: the struggle to find it and the fear to live it

  • our lack of or struggle with purpose or our fear of living it

  • our lack of or struggle with control in life, yet our constant need of control

  • our lack of or struggle with stability, security and safety

  • our lack or struggle with connectedness to our ourselves on a (w)holistic mind-body-soul level

  • our lack of or struggle with community (a tribe)

  • our lack of or struggle with authenticity

  • our lack of or struggle with connection nature

  • our lack of or struggle with connection to the Universe (spiritually or just from the quantum-physics perceptive)

  • our lack of or struggle with gratitude

  • our lack of or struggle with ability to forgive

  • our inability to live in the present moment

  • our lack of or struggle with creativity

There may be some other things that I forgot to mention…

Of course, if you have an eating disorder it does not mean you are lacking all of this. I certainly do not. You may be connected to the Universe, practice self-love and grateful, yet, you are still craving something (a tribe perhaps? financial security? a new career?) or have fears (perhaps fearing the new and the better)?

Dealing with these issues drive us to a fear-based mind. We don’t know how to find what we are lacking of and we don’t know how to deal with our problems. We have a difficulty just accepting it and taking it one step at a time. Instead we go for a crutch, a tool that protects us, that helps us through life: that is our eating disorder. In a sense, an eating disorder is just a symptom, a sign that we are craving something, lacking something, struggling with something that we are trying to find…

From that perspective, our eating disorder is a gift, showing us that we need to dig deeper to heal ourselves to finally eventually be able to drop this crutch they named eating disorders in our society.

(Written: February 23, 2014)


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