Disordered eating or eating disorders

It’s National Eating Disorder Week.
I am a veteran of disordered eating. Let me be perfectly clear that disordered eating is not the same as having an eating disorder.

Disordered eating is another way of saying dysfunctional eating. I see it this way – eating is form to function. In other words, eating is a function that supports multiple forms. It’s fuel, it’s the body’s building blocks, it’s defense against disease, and it’s pleasure. When eating doesn’t do all of those things, it’s disordered.

When I ate in a disorderly fashion I ate to get pleasure from my food, but the calories and nutritional value of my choices were out of whack. Too many calories – too few nutrients.

Lots of people are disordered eaters, and like me, they don’t have an eating disorder.

Some disordered eaters may develop an eating disorder, some may live their life eating in a disordered fashion and some gain order over their eating.

I did it to be a good role model for them!

I did it to be a good role model for them!

My children were my inspiration to change how I ate to achieve balance, better nutrition, and maintain a healthy weight.

I find it alarming that there are fad diets rapidly growing in popularity that are forms of disordered eating and they’re being promoted as “healing and healthy.”

People are embracing multiple disordered eating food plans expecting to end their sugar cravings, avoid heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, cure their arthritic aches and pains, enjoy regular bowel movements, look younger, feel stronger and most importantly take control in a world of out-of-control eating.shutterstock_572050345


Many of the popular fad diets promise control and better health. The problem is they’re highly restrictive. To follow these diets you need to give up a lot of good, nutritious food, and food groups.

Usually the rationale for these restrictive fad diets is to push the “reset button” with your metabolism, cure systemic inflammation, and any related bad effects from your food choices. Although pushing a “reset button” sounds promising,

I don’t believe the human body comes equipped with such an option. I’d like to see the peer-reviewed, scientific studies proving or even making a case that we have “reset buttons.” I do know that some people, especially those who are very goal oriented are at risk to go on to develop a restricted eating disorder.

Locking yourself into a restrictive food plan is not control! It's a (no)  life sentence.

Locking yourself into a restrictive food plan is not control. It’s the opposite.

I gained control by choosing a flexible food plan reinforced in an environment of group support.

I gained control not by running away from foods that once controlled me, but by learning balance and moderation. My healthy eating plan emphasized eating more fruit and vegetables, smaller servings of meat and dairy, and more whole grains. I eat what tastes good and I can eat anything that tastes good without fear or guilt. Some good-tasting foods are eaten in smaller servings and less often.

I was a disordered eater. I could have taught my girls similar disordered eating habits. I do not think my poor nutritional habits would have ever led to an eating disorder. Although being thin was desirable, it wasn’t more desirable than eating enough food to feel full and satisfied.

 The point is that eating nutritious food as part of a balanced diet and including treats is real order and real control that feels good and does good.



Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.