A Serious Post (even I get inside my head a lot!) “Digesting a thin line”


“Digesting a ‘Thin’ Line”

As suggested in the “playing on words” title that only I would consider funny, I often find it difficult to digest, or grasp the difference between having an eating disorder and not.  That is, what is the difference between someone who has a diagnosed “eating disorder” and one who simply defines them self as a “rigid eater” or “avid exerciser.”  Certainly we can accept that there are both “rigid eaters” and “avid exercisers” who are, even upon evaluation, not considered to have an eating disorder.  Disordered eating?  Maybe, but again, where is the line?

            According to the Mayo Clinic, “Eating disorders are a broad group of serious conditions in which you’re so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else.”  Symptoms?  “When you have anorexia nervosa, you’re obsessed with food and being thin… You may exercise excessively or simply not eat enough calories.” (www.mayoclinic.com)  OK, agreed.  But what about the woman who goes to the gym “regularly” (5-6 times a week for an hour) and “watches what she eats” (i.e. only protein after 4 pm)?  Does she have an Eating Disorder?  How about the one who is preparing for a marathon with a training schedule involving running 40 miles weekly…”for the race,” and yes, while they “carb-load” they also are careful of what they consume and allow one indulgence a day (rigid eating?).  Does this person have an Eating Disorder?  The wrestler who runs in sweat-producing rubber suits and uses self-induced dehydration to “weigh in”…for the love of the sport.  Does he have an Eating Disorder?  How about the family whose house contains literally not an ounce of fat; fat-free dressing, fat-free butter, fat-free fat…you get the point.  Do they have an eating disorder?

            This doesn’t even address the population of people who are vegan, “raw eaters” and the like.  Where is the line here?  What is the difference between being “vegan” (a vegetarian who only eats plant products) and having an Eating Disorder? People with eating disorders also have strict food rules.  It’s a thin line.  Well, after researching the topic, I found that at least there is a name for that “other side of the line.”  It is called Orthorexia.  While not yet a formally recognized medical term, it was coined by a doctor in Colorado.  So I guess that changes this situation to “vegan” or “orthorexic?”

            I don’t have an answer to these questions.  I have speculation and enjoy pondering/”digesting” the subject.  But the point is the line between having an Eating Disorder and not seems VERY “thin” (pardon the pun).  Maybe it makes more sense to look at it instead as a spectrum (and maybe it already is, who knows) of disordered eating from, say, “not disordered” to “extremely disordered” (for lack of a better term).  But either way, the line is very “slim.”


6 thoughts on “A Serious Post (even I get inside my head a lot!) “Digesting a thin line”

  1. I don’t have a eating disorder (definition wise) but I am so twisted with my weight. I weigh myself alot (more than once a day) count my calories pig out then starve myself but my weight is right where it should be . I do know alot of people that are like this though . Wish I wasn’t I blame it on society and the pressure for women to be teeny tiny. Its sad it really is.

  2. I agree with what your saying. It doesn’t always make sense and to sound childish – its not fair to label some and not others.

  3. Great thoughts. You are definitely right about it being a thin line. It’s too easy to cross over it. As far as vegan eating, I feel like its a half and half split- there are plenty of people who eat a vegan diet for health, environmental, and other reasons. Then there are people who eat a vegan diet but still eat shit. (like when I tried to be vegan, I quickly found the vegan scones.)

  4. I see what you are saying – it’s very case-by-case. I really think it has to do with how obsessed you are with it.

    Personally, I am a vegan for ethical reasons, not to lose weight. I don’t think too much about it, except when I am planing meals. I don’t think having “rules” automatically makes it an eating disorder.

  5. Great post! I’ve thought about this A LOT. I dealt with a friend who had an eating disorder in college. I’m health and exercise conscious. I try and eat healthy and keep myself in good shape, but the difference I saw was that my friend was obsessed with losing weight even if it meant doing things that were unhealthy and making her sick. She was doing things that were detrimental to her mind and body because she wanted to be thin. I work out and eat right because I want to #1 be healthy, and #2 stay thin.

    • Great point though. I think WHY you do whatever it is you do is the most important. You say the primary reason is to be healthy which is great. Secondary is staying slim. Nice benefit as long as you don’t go overboard. I agree!

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