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How to recognize unhealthy eating patterns


Our modern culture is fast-paced in almost every way: we work fast, drive fast, and many of us also eat fast - perhaps without really noticing it.

This type of mindlessness when it comes to eating can manifest in different unhealthy patterns, some of which might turn into full-blown eating disorders over time.

Your relationship with food

To you, is food a friend or foe?

Answering this question may give you more insight into whether or not your eating patterns are healthy.

Food should be a source of nourishment and pleasure, not one that is to be reckoned with or one that comes with feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety.

An unhealthy eating pattern may be present if you associate more negative feelings with food than positive ones.

Food as a band-aid

Recognizing unhealthy eating patterns may also be easier when you look at the reasons why you eat.

This may sound simple enough (you eat because you're hungry, right?), but turning to food for comfort, solace, or to drown out negative feelings could indicate that you're using food as a coping mechanism for other things in your life you can't face.

Elimination isn't the answer

Unhealthy eating habits may also show up in extreme dieting.

Do you find yourself jumping from one diet to the next? Have you tried completely eliminating entire food groups in attempts to gain more control over your weight, your eating, or your caloric intake?

A healthy relationship with food is one that doesn't involve reckless abandon, but also not severe restriction.

Social anxiety

Are you concerned about eating in front of others? Do you get self-conscious about your food choices in social settings?

Having social anxiety when it comes to food might indicate a bigger problem.

Secret eating, eating alone, or binge eating when you're not around other people could also be part of an unhealthy relationship with food.

The first step

The first step in fixing unhealthy eating patterns is simply recognizing them.

For some people, these patterns may be temporary - as in the case where it's a response to stressful circumstances, grief, or other difficult emotional experiences.

Yet if your behavior is a pattern - and has gone on for longer than several weeks - it may be time to seek help through a friend, a support group, or a counselor who specializes in disordered eating habits.

Source: Web MD