Disordered Eating VS Eating Disorders


Recently we have discussed food rules and signs of disordered eating. Disordered eating is not to be confused with eating disorders. The main differentiation between the two is that eating disorders are clinically diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria whereas disordered eating is not. 


There are a few different types of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa (AN), Bulimia Nervosa (BN), Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OFSED). The symptoms of the eating disorder can differ depending on the type. Stay tuned for future in-depth posts about different types of eating disorders. Disordered eating, however, is a broad term that includes disordered relationships with food, exercise, and one’s body. Disordered eating is not a diagnosis but rather a term used to describe the symptoms seen in someone who does not fit the specific criteria for the eating disorders listed in the DSM-5.



What Can Disordered Eating Look Like?

  • Negative body image and measuring self-worth by body image or weight
  • Restricting or eliminating foods 
  • Constantly trying new diets to lose weight
  • Frequent fluctuations in weight
  • Overeating late at night
  • Constant stress about keeping “on track” with food and exercise that impairs your social life and other activities of daily living
  • Skipping meals or fasting
  • Diet pills or teas



Origins of Disordered Eating:

  • TV shows, movies, magazines
  • Family, Friends, Coworkers
  • Anxiety, Depression, OCD
  • Stress or current big changes in your life
  • Trauma


Now that you have more of an idea of what disordered eating can look like and be caused by, we can look at the characteristics of non-disordered eating or Food Ease! Food Ease involves eating regular meals and snacks, eating a variety of foods, being flexible with your diet and exercise, and enjoying your diet and exercise!


What Does Food Ease Look Like?

  • Regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Aiming to eat 3 meals a day, and 2–3 snacks per day going no longer than 2-3 hours in between periods of eating.
  • Eating a variety of foods from all the food groups and not labeling foods as good or bad. Consuming a variety of foods is important to ensure you get a variety of nutrients.
  • Flexibility to adapt to changes in routine. Going out to eat with friends at the last minute and not stressing about what you will be able to eat from the menu. Going on a family vacation and going with the flow of what new foods you will be eating and not being able to do your normal routine like you would at home.
  • Eating for pleasure, eating for special occasions, and engaging in joyful movement that excites you.



Food ease also aligns with all the 12 principles of intuitive eating which can be found in-depth on our blog!



How We Can Help:

Our dietitian collective specializes in eating disorders and disordered eating. We practice from a weight-neutral, Health At Every Size (HAES) approach. 

If you or someone you know may be struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email to schedule a FREE 15-minute discovery call to see if our services could be right for you.





Anderson, M. (2018, October 26). What is disordered eating? Eatright.org. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://www.eatright.org/health/diseases-and-conditions/eating-disorders/what-is-disordered-eating

Gottlieb, C. (2014, February 23). Disordered eating or eating disorder: what’s the difference? Psychology Today. Retrieved June 30, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201402/disordered-eating-or-eating-disorder-what-s-the

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