“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.”
PLEASE COMMENT! I WANT TO KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS!