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When Does "Normal" Become Disordered?

Everyone talks about food. Sometimes in my family, when we eat a meal, we are already planning the next one out of pure excitement. Food brings people together and to most, it's nothing short of the best parts of the day!

Every day, you may have a thousand little thoughts about what, where, and when to eat, and to an extent, this is fine. But with the researching, and the planning, and scrolling through all the amazing pictures of food all day on Instagram, does it get to a point where maybe food is being thought about too much? How do you know if you've crossed the line?

Per, Julie Friedman, Ph.D and VP of the Compulsive Overeating Recovery Effort program for Eating Recovery Center's Insight Behavioral Health Centers in Chicago, the answer has to do with duration, frequency, and how much it's impacting your life negatively (this one being the most significant).

Obviously good health stems from some attention and thought to your food choices and will require some effort. I think the exception to this would be of course if it was taking up your entire day and it was sacrificing your work, relationships, and overall life. Dr. Frideman provides the example "if you're grocery shopping every single night and not going out with friends because of this rigid, inherent need to have to do this to make yourself feel safe in what you are eating, then that is an eating disorder."

Unsure about where you are on this spectrum? Try practicing "facts, not feelings." Dr. Friedman describes this as: the fact is that you ate a hamburger, not that you are eating poorly. Labeling how you ate as poorly is simply your own judgment and emotion. To quote Dr. Frideman, "The research indicates that beating yourself up only results in further disinhibited eating—it leads to not only to a lot of bad feelings about food but also a lot of preoccupation with food, and that's not helpful for anybody."

The more you start thinking about food factually and less emotionally, the more positive of a food relationship you will likely endure. Start by disassociating food with feelings (besides the feelings of hunger and fullness).

I think it's safe to say we all have some kind of weird within us. And really, what is normal? Everyone has their own idea of it.

So, if you're in doubt if your behaviors have crossed the line, know that it's always better to ask and be told you live within normal limits than to live with an untreated eating disorder, which will only get worse. Early detection is key!

*This post was adapted from the original

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