Signs of Disordered Eating In Our Society That No One Is Talking About

Alaina Stanisci


December 1, 2021

Eating disorders and disordered eating are simple. You’re only sick if you look or are underweight, it’s only a “girl thing”, and once people gain the weight back, they’ll be fine. Right?

Wrong. Not even close. In today’s society, there are so many misconceptions about eating disorders and the idea that they can only come in one shape or size has become such a common issue for all of those struggling. Even worse, patterns of disordered eating and eating disorders have become so normalized. It’s ridiculous that you might actually be pressured into thinking you have to run two miles just because you ate a cookie by our society. Believe me, you don’t. You don’t need a justification to eat the goddamn cookie. Just eat it.

Whether you’re reading this out of interest or because somebody told you to or maybe because you clicked on it by accident, I encourage you to consider these patterns in your own daily living and with your friends and family, that, for some ridiculous reason, our society has made us believe are the right way to think. Let me tell you again, it’s really okay to eat that cookie.

Holding onto clothes that you know don’t fit you in the back of your closet or purposely buying clothes that are too small. I’ve heard this one too many times, sometimes even with the reference “my motivation dress” or “my thinspiration.” It’s not normal for us to hold onto and keep clothes that we know haven’t fit us for years. Don’t force yourself and your body into something that you know hasn’t fit or won’t fit. Our bodies are always changing and this is a beautiful thing. Your worth is not determined by the size of your waist. Remember that clothes fit you and not the other way around. You simply don’t fit clothes, they fit you.

Constantly checking out other people’s bodies and comparing them to your own. In today’s world, it might seem practically impossible to avoid comparing yourself to those around you. Even if it’s challenging, I encourage you to make a conscious effort to keep this token of wisdom in the back of your mind when these thoughts come up; a healthy body looks different on everyone and comparison is the thief of joy.

Feeling anxious when you don’t weigh yourself or know your weight. In many cases, a focus on weight can actually give an inaccurate picture of health. You shouldn’t have to feel panicked or lost about not knowing the number on the scale. Weight is literally just the gravitational pull we have on the earth. Weight alone tells us absolutely nothing about muscle, fat, or other body tissue or fluid composition. For those struggling with body image or disordered eating, reaching satisfaction on the scale is impossible. No matter how low the number gets, one will never be happy nor satisfied.

Excessive cooking or preoccupation with food without eating it. One of the most unknown and also one of the most common signs of an eating disorder is baking or cooking without eating it. It’s unbelievably common for people with eating disorders to cook or bake for their friends and family without taking a single bite of the food. A lot of people with anorexia or bulimia have a strange desire to be around food and love to cook elaborate meals during the height of their eating disorders because they will use it as vicarious pleasure or eating “through” others.

Eating rituals. Compulsive behaviors like those seen in people with OCD will often occur for those struggling with disordered eating. Eating rituals such as cutting food into small pieces or arranging it a certain way on your plate can sometimes be an early sign of the development of an eating disorder.

Excessive exercise. Using exercise as a compensatory activity can be a sign of disordered eating. Exercise and movement should be used as a celebration of the ability of the human body, not as a way to make yourself feel better for eating a cookie. In fact, food and exercise really don’t have to be correlated at all. Some people really just do love to exercise and that’s perfectly acceptable sometimes. However, it starts to become a dangerous and slippery slope when we use exercise as justification and compensation for eating certain foods.

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With immense gratitude, the Promly Team.

Alaina Stanisci

Laina (she/her/hers) is a senior in high school. In her spare time, you can find her on the soccer field, skiing and eating belgium waffles, or going on hikes with her dog Ella. As somebody with mental health experience, Laina wants to someday help others become the most authentic, happy, and genuine versions of themselves.