RunnersWorld.com recently ran an article called "Running on Empty". As a female, I've been preached to on the hazards of eating disorders since I started wearing big girl underwear (which, in my opinion may be part of the issue. We focus so much on the problem and how to identify it than trying to prevent it in the first place). Paternal Unit is a therapist and I can't tell you how many times I caught him hovering, seeing how much food was on my plate. He needn't be worried as I have a love of all things alfredo and chocolate.
"Running on Empty" states that disordered eating doesn't always end up in a full blown eating disorder but eating disorders begin with disordered eating. To quote the article, "Manipulating one's food and body offers a sense of control and perfection, a substitute for happiness that may be absent when they're not laced in running shoes." I think that anyone even vaguely familiar with eating disorders is well aware of this. The article also states that disordered eating "refers to less-severe abnormal behaviors: eliminating food groups from your diet; regularly replacing meals with energy bars or coffee drinks; excessive weighing and calorie-counting; and tacking on extra miles as punishment for, say a cheeseburger the night before." It's more physical than mental or emotional.
While I don't feel that I am participating in any of these behaviors, I can see how easy it would be to slip into the mentality that the article is about. At one point it mentions how someone might begin to think "if a 1200 calorie diet get's me these results [less body fat, faster times], than a 500 calorie diet would be better." Running itself can feel almost like an addiction (and believe me I'm hooked), so to do anything to become a better runner makes sense. If you ask me, I will freely tell you that I have addictive tendencies. I probably wouldn't be as aware of that if Paternal Unit hasn't used psycho-babble on me and if there weren't a long line of addicts in my family, but I am and I live every day making careful choices.
Even those careful choices, though, can turn into their own form of addiction, so I can definitely say there are no easy answers. Information, though, is key and education is a powerful tool, at least it is to me, as I'm not the type of person to ignore either. This article made me look at my choice to be a part of the Biggest Loser Challenge and make sure it was in line with the other choices I'd made since then to lose weight. Because of that I've started to make food choices that are healthier and filling instead of what falls exactly into my little 1200 calorie bubble and I'm okay with having a rest day (or two). My mood has definitely improved and my tummy is way happier too. I'm more interested in a healthier me, rather than a skinnier me. Although, I'm hoping the healthier me can rock a bikini.
What kind of choices to you make to be a healthier you?