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Eating Disorders If you or someone close to you is struggling with an eating disorder, reach out here to ask questions or to receive support for recovery.

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Eating Disorder vs. Disordered Eating - February 15th 2010, 04:30 PM

Is there a difference between having an eating disorder and disordered eating? If so, what is it?

For me:
“Eating disorder” is a phrase that describes conditions in which individuals engage in disordered eating. Eating disorders are not simply poor eating habits but are recognised mental health disorders in which emotional issues manifest in harmful eating habits. Disordered eating is also the prequel to an eating disorder. It's like how an eating disorder starts....the way you eat starts becoming disordered.... leading to an eating disorder..

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Re: Eating Disorder vs. Disordered Eating - February 16th 2010, 04:05 AM

Technically there is a difference. From what I've been told, disordered eating is ED-like behaviours but that are not an eating disorder, if that makes sense? Like, Obsessing over calories, but not restricting is disordered eating.According to one of my therapists, they are one and the same.

I personally think that disordered eating is the start of an eating disorder, that it can lead to an eating disorder, but is not a full blown disorder yet. I hope some of this made sense xD

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Re: Eating Disorder vs. Disordered Eating - February 16th 2010, 04:11 AM

To be honest, I don't see a different because both a dangerous. Disordered eating is the start of it. If it is not stopped/noticed it becomes an eating disorder. Eating disorder is full blown needs to seek help immediately or else they will die, eventually.

I think that the only difference between the two is that disordered eating is a little easier to stop. Whereas when a person has an Eating disorder they are so far gone and the ED is in complete control.

I hope this made sense.

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Re: Eating Disorder vs. Disordered Eating - February 16th 2010, 02:49 PM


Technically, an eating disorder, by definition, can be defined in the DSM-IV. It is a diagnosable illness, and you need to meet a set criteria in order to technically have an eating disorder.

That being said, the majority of people don't go by that strictly, and those guidelines are for things like insurance. Doctors, therapists, and even us alone, can know if we have an eating disorder regardless of if we meet every single technical criteria. Many people struggle with feeling like their ED isn't real if they don't meet all the criteria for anorexia or bulimia. But we all know that an ED is just as real--so don't let that invalidate you!

Disordered eating is what the majority of the public has. It's just what it says--eating that is not quite right. Maybe it involves a reduction of calories, maybe it involves cutting out certain foods, binging on certain foods, etc. Unfortunately, nearly everyone has disordered eating from time to time--but it's not necessarily an eating disorder. It doesn't necessarily take over their lives, consume their brains, etc. For a lot of people, unfortunately, it's just the way of their life and they don't see anything wrong with it.

For our purposes here--try not to get hung up on eating disorder vs. disordered eating. We can get caught up in the terminology when that's not important--recovery is. No matter what you are struggling with--a diagnosed eating disorder or a period of time where you are eating less than you should be, you deserve help. That's the bottom line. If you are having a hard time, and something isn't right, the label doesn't matter.


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