How Much Do You Have to Think About Eating for It to Become a Disorder?
We all do it, but don't you feel just a little f*cked up? Eating lunch in order of least-to-most bloat risk, starting with the vegetables and ending with whatever it is on your plate you'd rather have bitten into first. Reading one of those grocery-shopping guides for "neurotic eaters" concerned about cabbages feeling pain. Reading—and enjoying—food diaries, celebrity or not. Even *saying* something as casual as "After dinner, I stopped at a 16 Handles and got $8 worth of fro-yo. I don't even eat dairy. What's wrong with me?" (Based on a true story.)
What *is* wrong with us?
Every day, we make a thousand little calculations about what/where/when/why we eat, and to an extent, this is fine. But with the researching and the planning and the "I want to eat that thing I saw on Instagram"-ing, are we maybe thinking about this too much? When does it become a problem?
In a very simplified sense, the answer has to do with duration, frequency, and how much it's impacting your life negatively, the last being the most significant, says Julie Friedman, Ph.D., vice president of the Compulsive Overeating Recovery Effort program for Eating Recovery Center's Insight Behavioral Health Centers in Chicago. (With behaviors like bingeing and purging, the standard is usually once a week, taking into account that multiple shorter episodes versus a single longer one are just as problematic.) But when you're not forcing yourself to vomit or overeat—when you just want to reach an equilibrium of healthy and anti-inflammatory and not-that-bad-tasting—the diagnosis is a bit more complicated.