Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is dieting an eating disorder?

I know that dieting is not typically listed among the eating disorders along with anorexia and bulimia. But after years of watching some friends, and after talking with another friend, I'm starting to suspect that dieting is a low-grade eating disorder.

What counts as an eating disorder? I think it's anything that does not fit into a sustainable and healthy eating plan. And sometimes elements of self-abuse creep into diets, as people punish themselves for being overweight or withhold their favorite foods from themselves.

The only person I know who successfully lost weight long-term (without resorting to surgery) decided to skip dieting and to think only in terms of the "sustainable and healthy eating plan". He made several small but permanent adjustments to his normal eating plan (diet in the old sense of the word) and his weight slowly adjusted itself for what he was eating.

So there it is, my thoughts on why dieting is a low-grade chronic eating disorder, the socially acceptable eating disorder.

(Why post this on my blog? In case it might help someone ...)


P.S. an after-thought said...

You are probably on to something. The people I know that diet/need to diet seem to be fixated on food, talk about it all the time, mention ways to fix food, and somehow don't connect this with the 50 pounds that they gained "on vacation."

Drew said...

Hmmm... I agree with p.s. Most diest are crap and we all know it. It's about physics: calories in and calories out. the more calories you store without expending them, the fatter you get. Some calories take more energy to burn than others. Stick to the food pyramid (whichever one) and you are going to be ok if you watch your portions based on lifestyle.

Seems both simple and healthy. But dieting and the notion of "fad" as a condition of health seems to point to the reality that our culture is sooo fundamentally dysfunctional.

Weekend Fisher said...

Every time I pass by the checkout lane at the supermarket, I can feel the urge to protest. Do you all ever do that? I mean, here are 10 magazines showing covergirls who are impossibly slim. Then there are 2 more tabloids giving someone a hard time for being 10 pounds overweight, or gained 20 pounds, or lost a few pounds.

Then there's one about some starlet being anorexic or bulimic or getting addicted to diet pills or being dangerously thin.

And I think to myself, "Do these magazines not see themselves as part of the problem?" Time for a reality check. A code of ethics wouldn't hurt those guys either.