What is disordered eating?
Disordered eating is any eating pattern, or eating behavior over time, that is different from cultural norms. Unlike eating disorders, which are diagnosed by a doctor or mental health professional, disordered eating is a pattern of behavior that does not meet the criteria for an eating disorder.
Some examples of disordered eating include
- Skipping meals
- Spending too much time or consideration on food
- Feelings of guilt and shame associated with eating
- Feelings of loss of control around food
- Following restrictive diets
- Avoiding entire food groups
How common is disordered eating?
Disordered eating is prevalent in people with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and microscopic colitis). A recent systematic review of 29 studies found that up to 93% of people with IBD experience some form of disordered eating1.
Why is disordered eating so common in people with IBD?
Avoiding or restricting foods is a natural response to symptoms which makes it a very common behavior for people with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. According to researchers, there are several factors that appear to be associated with increased prevalence of disordered eating patterns such as
- Having a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease
- Believing that you have active disease / inflammation
- Being female
- Dietary misinformation
- Having fear of triggering symptoms
These factors are thought to increase the chances that someone may develop disordered eating patterns, though some studies have suggested that nearly all patients (93%) may have some form of disordered eating, regardless of the factors above1.
What to do if you are avoiding or restricting foods
It’s important to know that avoiding and restricting foods is not necessary to reduce your symptoms and get into remission. It is possible to eat an expansive and well-rounded diet that you both enjoy and can tolerate. If you’re experiencing any of these disordered eating behaviors and want support gaining a healthier, more sustainable relationship with food, request a complimentary call with one of our IBD dietitians to learn how we can help.
You deserve to have an enjoyable diet that reduces your symptoms, and helps you feel your best.
- Day AS, Yao CK, Costello SP, Andrews JM, Bryant RV. Food avoidance, restrictive eating behaviour and association with quality of life in adults with inflammatory bowel disease: A systematic scoping review. Appetite. 2021 Dec 1;167:105650. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2021.105650. Epub 2021 Aug 12. PMID: 34391842.