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Restrictive Diets & Disordered Eating

Monday, Jun 14  •  

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Because of the common social and cultural beliefs that thin is beautiful, restrictive diets are a popular trend amongst many individuals. Another unhealthy belief often pushed by society is that what someone eats and/or what they look like reflects if they are a good person or not. People who eat healthy foods and are thin are often seen as morally superior on social media. This obsession with thinness is one of the most common reasons people develop eating disorders. 

In many cases, diets do more harm than good and often serve as a stepping stone to developing a full-blown eating disorder. Diets for weight loss often limit people to only eat certain types of food or a certain number of calories. Individuals become obsessed with limiting their intake and this obsession is often detrimental to their health. 

Restrictive Diets & Disordered Eating

Within the last few years, “clean eating” has become more and more popular amongst the list of diets. Clean eating centers around the idea that some foods are good and others are bad. As a result, people who participate in clean eating diets are encouraged to strictly avoid bad foods. This fixation on clean or good foods can lead people to become obsessed with these habits. This is known as orthorexia nervosa. While orthorexia is not a frequently talked about disorder, awareness of this condition is increasing. Signs include: 

  • Compulsively checking ingredient lists
  • Cutting out several different food groups
  • Spending hours a day thinking about what foods might be served at social events
  • Emotional distress, such as anxiety or guilt, when clean or healthy foods aren’t available
  • Unable to eat foods that aren’t considered healthy or clean

Are All Healthy Eating Diets Disordered? 

When learning about clean or healthy eating, it can be difficult to see the harmful side of the diet. Clean eating diets can be harmful to someone’s mental and physical health when taken to the extreme. Restrictive dieting can impair someone’s ability to fulfill their responsibilities and live a full and happy life. This approach to food can also result in physical harm. Common medical complications from restrictive diets include malnourishment, damage to different organ systems, or death. 
It can be really difficult to let go of restrictive diets when your goals involve healthy changes, however, intuitive eating is a great approach to food that allows participants to develop a healthy relationship to food. For more information on intuitive eating and the Avalon Hills program, visit our website!

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