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The Difference Between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders

The Difference Between Disordered Eating and Eating Disorders

Adolescence is a time of significant change and challenge, both physically and emotionally. As teens cope with the many physical, social, and intellectual changes occurring during this critical stage of development, they may struggle to find their place in the world. 

Hormonal chaos often puts them at increased risk for developing eating disorders or disordered eating habits. While they share commonalities, eating disorders and disordered eating are two different clinical presentations with varying implications for treatment.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

Adolescent eating disorder statistics show that less than three percent of teens in the U.S. between 13 and 18 years old have an eating disorder. In addition, the National Eating Disorders Association helpline has had a 40% jump in overall call volume since March 2020. Among callers who shared their age over the last year, 35% were 13 to 17 years old, up from 30% before the pandemic.

These numbers show that eating disorders are a serious problem among teens, with many teens struggling to cope with the stress, confusion, and emotions that accompany adolescence.

Eating Disorders Disrupt Life

An eating disorder is a severe condition that disrupts an individual’s life and affects their health, including kidney and heart issues, weakened bones, hair loss, organ failure, and even death. Eating disorders can involve a number of behaviors that occur on a continuum ranging from severe overeating to self-imposed starvation. The four primary eating disorder diagnoses are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), previously known as selective eating disorder.

Disordered Eating

Disordered eating is a complicated and often misunderstood topic. It’s important to understand that disordered eating differs from an eating disorder. 

The primary delineating factor between disordered eating and a diagnosable eating disorder is the frequency and severity of the abnormal eating pattern. Although both disordered eating and eating disorders are abnormal, eating disorders have very specific diagnostic criteria outlining frequent and severe behaviors.

On the other hand, disordered eating refers to unhealthy behaviors and attitudes around food that do not meet the clinical criteria for an eating disorder.

While disordered eating doesn’t always meet the criteria for an official diagnosis, it can still significantly impact your teen’s physical and emotional well-being.

Types of Disordered Eating

There are many different types of disordered eating, but some common signs include skipping meals, obsessing over calorie counts, and engaging in restrictive dieting behaviors. 

Disordered eaters often have a distorted body image and see food as either “good” or “bad.” They may also feel guilty or ashamed after eating, even if they’re not overeating. 

If disordered eating patterns are left unchecked, they can lead to serious health problems such as malnutrition, weight loss, and digestive issues. In severe cases, disordered eating can even lead to death.

When to Worry

While most teens go through some dietary change or experiment with their eating habits, a few behaviors could be cause for concern. These include suddenly missing family meals or refusing to eat food from entire categories, such as carbohydrates or processed foods. 

Worth concern, too, is the teenager who develops fixations such as carefully counting calories, exercising obsessively, or hoarding food, which may be a sign of a binge eating disorder. Parents should be on the lookout for these and other changes in their teens’ eating habits and talk to their teens about any concerns.

Eating disorders require specialized treatment, while disordered eating can often be treated on an outpatient mental health basis. If you suspect your teen may have an eating disorder, please seek professional help. Early intervention is key to helping teens overcome eating disorders and live healthy lives.

How to Help Your Teen

Teens and eating disorders have been increasingly recognized as a serious issue, and the rates of diagnosis among teens continue to grow. Teens today are exposed to many conflicting messages around body image and health, which can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety or low self-esteem.

Despite these risks, there are steps that parents and educators can take to support teens in this critical phase of life. By providing a supportive environment where teens feel free to be themselves and explore who they are without judgment or shame, parents can help them develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage daily life stressors.

While teens with eating disorders receive a lot of attention, it’s important to remember that teens with disordered eating habits are also at risk. It can manifest in a number of ways, including skipping meals, refusing to eat certain foods, fixations on calorie counting or exercise, and hoarding food. At Clearfork Academy, we understand how important it is to recognize the warning signs and take action as soon as possible. Early intervention can prevent disordered eating from progressing into a full-blown eating disorder requiring specialized treatment. It can also prevent other co-occurring disorders from developing, such as using substances to cope. If you are concerned about your teen’s relationship with food, it’s crucial to talk to them and seek professional help. With the right support, teens can learn to develop a healthy relationship with food. For treatment options and referrals, call us today at (888) 966-8604.

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Why Clean Eating Is Important for Recovery: The Benefits of Eating Clean

Eating Clean

Addiction recovery requires healthy lifestyle changes to get your mind and body healthy. One of the most important aspects of getting both your mind and body healthy again is clean eating.

Substance use changes the mind and body in major ways, as it influences negative lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes reflect a poor diet and a fluctuating appetite. Clean eating offers many benefits for addiction recovery and plays a vital role in regaining your health back. Let’s look at some ways you can understand and incorporate healthy eating into your recovery regimen.

How Addiction Affects Nutrition and the Body

Abusing substances makes major changes to the body. It can damage major organs such as the brain, heart, liver, and lungs. Substance abuse affects aspects of your health, such as:

  • Changes in Appetite: Substances can influence and change your appetite. Stimulants (such as methamphetamine and cocaine) suppress appetite, which causes weight loss and overall poor health. Marijuana mainly increases appetite but could also reduce appetite.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Long-term alcohol and drug use can lead to many digestive disorders. Your gastrointestinal system is in charge of breaking down and digesting food. Drug use can cause digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, and intestinal inflammation.
  • Poor Mental Health: Nutrition is known to play a key role in mental health. A poor diet can lead to worsening mood disorders, increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Your body and mind are connected, and therefore when you neglect your health, each is affected.

Once you start your addiction recovery process, it is necessary to learn the benefits of clean eating to your journey. Clean eating contributes to both the mind, body, and spirit. Here are a few advantages that you can experience with a clean diet in recovery.

Increased Energy Levels and Mood

Being able to function efficiently throughout your day requires a decent level of energy from your body. Healthy eating fuels your body to produce and sustain higher energy levels and boosts your mood. After having a few drinks, you might feel relaxed. However, over time alcohol begins to harm your energy, mood, and mental health. Alcohol is one of the most major causes of nutritional deficiencies in the US, with the most common deficiency in Vitamin B. Vitamin B deficiency is associated with depression, low moods, and lethargy.

Making the switch to adding meats such as fish, chicken, and beef into your diet gives you a great source of B vitamins. Leafy greens, eggs, and yogurt also serve as a great source of B vitamins. Increasing your water intake will also help you feel more refreshed and hydrated, which will benefit your energy levels and mood. Cutting out processed and fast food and replacing your diet with fruits, vegetables, and proper meat is essential for clean eating.

Stronger Immune System

Your liver is what collects waste from chemicals that have entered your body. Alcohol and other drugs contribute to adding these chemicals into your body. A weekend immune system makes it harder for your body to fight off disease and infections. However, eating whole foods gives your body nutrients that can help repair the immune system.

Foods that help you build a stronger immune system include:

Incorporating plant-based foods into your diet like fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts helps build a healthy immune system. Eating nutrient-rich foods allows your body to repair itself, which is necessary for fighting off diseases. They also help contribute to better focus, memory, and energy.

Healthy Nutrition Supports the Detox Process

When you begin your recovery process, the first step is usually going through detox. The detox process is physically demanding on your body and includes intense side effects such as vomiting, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and fatigue. A healthy and clean diet can help lessen and relieve withdrawal symptoms. Light and fresh foods that sit easily on the stomach help relieve nausea and vomiting. Foods that are high in fiber help relieve and lessen constipation.

As you continue to feed your body nutritious foods, you should start to feel better overall. The recovery process requires much time, patience, and compassion for yourself. Treating your body with the proper care by clean and healthy eating will help repair itself from the damages of previous substance use. Finding a treatment center that also teaches the importance of a proper diet gives you the tools needed to make necessary lifestyle changes important for lasting recovery.

At Clearfork Academy, we offer a range of treatments and therapies to help teenage males safely detox and create a healthy lifestyle. Our programs include guiding teens to develop self-care routines, from coping strategies to maintaining a clean diet. Our therapists will help teens identify what steps they need to create a healthier lifestyle conducive to their sobriety. We provide teens with the tools they need to overcome negative habits, form healthier habits, and provide life skills they can use throughout recovery. Finding the best-suited treatment facility for your teen requires a center that focuses on the unique needs of a teenager’s circumstances. We also work with the whole family so that you and your teenager can understand addiction and face the challenges of addiction recovery together. If your teen is currently struggling to manage their recovery, seek help today. To find out more about our programs, call Clearfork Academy at (866) 650-5212