Why is it Disordered Eating and Not “Eating Disorders?”

Why is it Disordered Eating and Not “Eating Disorders?”

Why is it Disordered Eating and Not “Eating Disorders?” 2560 1756 Long Island Counseling Services

At Long Island Counseling Services, we provide support for patients that are struggling with their mental health. This includes conditions like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. Typically, these have been referred to as “eating disorders.” But you may have noticed, if you’re searching for an eating disorder therapist, that the term that many are using now is “disordered eating.”

So is disordered eating different from an eating disorder? Why are therapists using different terms?

Difference Between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders

Therapists now consider “eating disorders,” to be a type of disordered eating. The reason that many therapists say they treat “disordered eating” is because some people have problems around food that may not qualify as an eating disorder. For example, a person may not have any issues with food restriction, vomiting, or overeating, but the way that they react to food and eating.

For example, a person may be obsessed with “healthy eating,” believing they are getting the “correct” amount of calories and vitamins/minerals – and, in a general sense, they may be correct, which would mean that they do not qualify for anorexia – but their obsession with food, belief about food, and the way they alter their lifestyle around food shows that they have an unhealthy relationship with food.

Similarly, a person that struggles with body image and believes that something is wrong with them because of their eating habits is showing signs of disordered eating, but may not qualify for any of the specific eating disorders that therapists traditionally treat. In this example, the therapist would need to work on specific issues around eating, such as:

  • Disconnecting the idea of body weight and health.
  • Changing what someone believes is “healthy eating.”
  • Making sure their self-esteem and self-care is being managed, etc.

In these examples, the person is struggling with issues surrounding eating, but does not qualify for anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, or any of the other common eating disorder struggles. Yet they still benefit from mental health treatment, both because of how they are currently affected by their disordered eating and because some of these examples can eventually turn into eating disorders.

Treatment to Help You Become Who You Wish to Be

Disordered eating is a category of behaviors, while eating disorders are specific disorders with specific symptoms that therapists identify treat in specific ways. Though they share similarities and conditions, disordered eating encompasses all issues that a person has about food and their body, while eating disorders is specific to conditions that can be diagnosed.

No matter the terminologies, our goals as therapists remain the same: to make sure that you are able to receive the mental health support that will benefit you and give you the life that you want. Learn more about our eating disorder and disordered eating services by contacting us today to get in touch with one of our team members.