You don’t have to have an eating disorder to struggle with food

November 17, 2022

There is this important message I’d like to share with you today. It feels like it should be said out loud:

Your struggle with food is real and it deserves some care and attention, no matter if you have a diagnosed eating disorder or not.

I believe this is an important message as the reality is most people will never get a diagnosis for an eating problem even though there might be some sort of eating distress going on in their lives.

This is true especially when it comes to binge eating disorder.

It is a very common disorder, more prevalent in the general population than any other eating disorder. However, often people know very little about it, because it doesn’t have the same visibility as other eating disorders and awareness campaigns are often more focused on disorders like anorexia or bulimia.

I’ve listed the main symptoms of binge eating disorder below and I encourage you to get in contact with your GP if you can see yourself in this description to discuss your options for support.

[You may need to enlarge this picture or read this article from your laptop]

This is also true when it comes to disordered eating, which includes all those eating behaviours that, by themselves, do not warrant the diagnosis of an eating disorder. However, they can expose any of us to develop an eating disorder.

In the picture below I list some of the most common signs of disordered eating.

I’m pretty sure that you can see yourself in one or more of these behaviours. Or if it’s not you, you know someone that fits into this description.

Truth is you can’t tell if someone is struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder by looking at the size of their body.

Another truth is that we live in a culture where these sign of disordered eating are widely accepted as normal or even considered healthy behavious; rarely are they recognised as problematic.

You might be feeling a certain level of distress around food and your body. However, because your story and your behaviours don’t fit into the picture we have in our minds of “someone who has an eating problem”, that might prevent you from considering your struggle valid and deserving of attention and support.

So, here are my reminders for you today:

  • You don’t need to be at a certain weight or have a specific BMI to be suffering with an eating problem and to demand support for it.
  • If the way you eat and think about your eating creates distress, suffering, constant guilt and you notice it has a significant impact on your quality of life, then you deserve support.
  • If you don’t know exactly what’s going on but you sense there’s something off with you and the way you eat, then it’s worth looking into it.

If you experienced some eating distress in the past or if you are suffering with some right now and your problem gets dismissed, minimised or you’re told to “just stop doing it!” and pull yourself togather, let me share my whole compassion for you.

If someone ever labelled you as gluttonous, insatiable or piggish, not seeing the hurt these labels caused, I’m truly sorry that happened to you. If that “someone” is you, I hear you and I know it’s not the easiest of feelings to be dealing with.

In my personal journey, I was never officialy diagnosed with a binge eating disorder. However, with time and because of the professional pathway I choose for myself (probably not by coincidence), I gradually got to the understanding that all the signs and symptopms were there.

My problem got minimised and dismissed for many years, by others and by myself in primis.

Until it became a priority. Until I started to see all the tiny and big ways it was impacting my mental health and all the areas of my life.

Even when my binges started to decrease as I took better care of the problem, I was very conscious and still to this day I pay attention to any signs of disordered eating that from time to time reappear and do something about it. It has become a priority, as I said.

There are many resources to help you understand if your struggle with food is something that desrves your full attention and some loving care. I’m going to recommend some below.

The bottom line though, is that you and only you can measure the distress food and eating are creating in your life.

Nobody will ever be better than you in knowing when something is off, painful and needs to change.

Nobody can decide you don’t need support when you feel like the opposite is true. So trust your gut with that and ask for help.

I encourage you to start by reading the resources available on the BodyWhys website.

This blog has also several articles about binge eating and disordered eating. You can browse it here.

If you like, let me know your thoughts and how today’s article landed with you today. I’m on the other side of this page.

With kindness,

Dona 🌷


Written by Donatella Porceddu

I am a registered psychologist and life coach specialised in binge and emotional eating, body kindness, and mindful eating. I empower women to become the best version of themselves through my comprehensive approach, which combines personal coaching and psychology, leveraging my client’s strengths and building around their opportunities.

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If you have any questions, reach out to me today. I’ll be more than happy to connect with you and see how I can help.

Donatella Porceddu Psychologist & Eating Coach specialised in Binge Eating, Overeating, Emotional Eating, Food freedom, anti-diet approach. 1:1 support through my Make Peace with Food program.

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