Updated: Dec 24, 2022
Because of your eating disorder, how many times have you…
● Stayed home from an important social event (and later regretted it), because you didn’t know if there would be any “safe” food choices available?
● Risked hurting a loved one’s feelings by turning down the meal they cooked for you, because you didn’t watch them prepare it (and couldn’t count the calories)?
● Spent excessive amounts of money on gym memberships, juice cleanses, and diet foods to try and lose the weight?
When you diet or engage in disordered eating, body weight isn’t the only thing you lose. Caloric restriction costs you your whole self – your True Self. Its detrimental effects affect not only our bodies, but also our mind, our emotions, and our relationships… relationships with ourselves, with others, and even with money. Here’s how.
Eating Disorders & Your Body
While “scare tactics” are rarely helpful in discouraging disordered eating, it’s true that eating disorders can take a severe and lasting toll on your body. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, just a few of the potential physical health consequences of caloric restriction include:
● Irregular heartbeat, heart attack, or heart failure
● Constipation or gastroparesis
● Kidney failure
● Amenorrhea and infertility
● Dull, dry skin
● Hair loss or body hair growth (lanugo)
Eating disorders can even cost you your life. Anorexia nervosa is the most deadly mental health condition, with anorexia sufferers five times more likely to die – and 18 times more likely to die by suicide – than the general population.
Eating Disorders & Your Mind
At the end of the day, eating disorders aren’t about food or body weight; they’re disorders of the mind. These disorders warp our thoughts, leading us to believe that our bodies are fat and ugly, or that we are unworthy and undeserving of food.
These distorted thoughts are compounded by the physical effects of starvation: your brain consumes up to one-fifth of the calories you take in. If you don’t eat enough to meet your brain’s nutritional needs, you might experience brain fog, difficulty concentrating, or obsessive thoughts about your next meal.
The EDIT™ Method considers these cognitive distortions part of your ED voice. By replacing distorted thoughts with more helpful ones, you can learn to quiet your ED voice and turn up the volume on your IT voice – your “Intuitive Therapist” voice! (Click here to read more about the EDIT Method.)
Eating Disorders & Your Emotions
Ever get “hangry” when you miss a scheduled meal or snack? Believe it or not, that’s a biological response: when our bodies are in starvation mode, they release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can trigger aggression and loss of control in some people.
It makes sense, then, that people with eating disorders tend to be more reactive and prone to emotional dysregulation than others. For many people, disordered eating or chronic dieting emerges as a maladaptive way of coping with their distress.
We also know from research that there is a huge overlap between eating disorders and other mental health conditions. By one estimate, 94% of individuals hospitalized for eating disorders have co-occurring depression, and 56% also suffer from anxiety.
Eating Disorders & Your Relationships
Because caloric restriction has such a dramatic effect on our emotions (and how we express them), we may show up differently in our close relationships than we might otherwise. For example, we might become more prone to snapping over the small things, or take offense at the smallest slight.
Disordered eating also impacts our ability to fulfill important social roles. It’s difficult to be a good parent, a good friend, or a good spouse when food is the driving force in our lives. Whether it’s a family meal around the holidays, a catch-up with a pal over coffee, or a birthday dinner at a restaurant, food fear can make you miss out on important social obligations.
Eating Disorders & Your Finances
Eating disorders have many well-known costs – your physical or mental health, for example – but how often have you stopped to consider how caloric restriction may be impacting your financial health?
As it turns out, unhealthy weight loss is just as bad for your wallet as it is for your well-being. For one thing, diet foods and meal replacement shakes tend to cost more than an ordinary meal. A study of the most popular commercial weight loss programs (read: fad diets) found that they could cost as much as $2,120… for 12 weeks.
Disordered eating also results in higher healthcare costs. Even when their condition does not require hospitalization, individuals with eating disorders spend 48% more on healthcare – and earn 48% less in a year – than those without EDs.
Disordered eating and diet culture comes with a massive price tag, both literally and metaphorically. However, hiring an EDIT-certified eating disorder recovery coach is a smart investment for your physical and mental health. EDIT-certified recovery coaches like me can help you discover ED recovery – and make sure it lasts. (P.S. Your first 30-minute consultation session is completely free!)
 Obsessive thoughts about food aren’t always a sign of an eating disorder – for example, if you are experiencing food insecurity – but they frequently accompany disordered eating habits.