Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Disordered Eating

No, no, I did okay today, honest. I did have a serving of pasta with cheese at dinner, but that's because I was feeding 11 people and needed something appealing, quick and cheap. I picked up my weights again-- 3 supersets of deadlifts and arm rows-- and mowed the lawn, always good exercise. I was just pondering this question as I was soaking tired muscles in my bath. How do you define disordered eating? Barbara on Refuse to Regain wrote that she was very trim most of her life (5'6" and less than 120 lbs) eating all kinds of crap. She mentioned Pinwheels specifically. I personally have been known to go through a box of Pinwheels (those evil chocolate covered marshmallow cookies) in 2 days. One time I ate a whole box myself in a day. That felt disordered. If I had been 140 pounds, would it still have qualified as disordered?

I feel quite sure that calories in/out is not as simple as we'd like. Studies which I am too lazy to look up have shown all kinds of odd things, like how hard it is to get certain normal weight people to gain weight, even if you grossly overfeed them; that 2000 calories eaten in the morning results in weight loss, while 2000 eaten for dinner results in weight gain. Many of us seem to have a setpoint. For Barbara on Refuse to Regain it was 120, for me it was 145 and then 195, for someone else it might be 350. Normal weight people seem to binge occasionally too.

I've been realizing what a fine line there is between overfat and "normal." In my case, maybe three or four hundred calories a day, plus a half hour to an hour of exercise. So just one bagel and a cookie or two, and reading a book rather than taking a hike. That's all it takes for some of us to stay fat. Does that mean I had disordered eating? I don't think so. The bad news is, it doesn't take that much to stay overfat. The good news seems to be, if you can find a trick to trim your calories consistently (either a change in activity or a change in diet or a combination of the two) you should be able to keep weight off without having to tie yourself in knots. For me clean eating, besides making me feel better physically, is just an easy way to trim calories. Take out empty carbohydrates and the cravy-hungry feelings they provoke, and my calorie total seems to end up in the 1900 range versus the 2300-2400 range.

I wonder what "disordered eating" means to you?

4 comments:

  1. I am not sure I am going to answer your question, but I am going to second the thought that it is not quite as simple as calories in/out.

    There was a guy I went to school with who was skinny as a rail, yet every time we would have get togethers he would amaze us all with the quantity of food he ate. I can remember him eating a whole large pizza by himself.

    While I believe that calories can be a good measurement, we have to figure out what the gauge is.

    One other thing, I agree with your thoughts on the set point. However, I think this can be reset over time. I think our bodies have a memory of what they are used to. If we can get them re-used to a new weight, it becomes the new memory, or set point.

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  2. Very true, and I also think "setpoint" is influenced by how you live. You might have one setpoint eating any old thing, one when you make an effort to exercise and avoid the most blatant dietary offenses, and another one when you are eating "clean," a raw vegan diet or South Beach.

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  3. I do think there is a terrible double standard for what thin people and heavy people can eat before people start calling it disordered. I think most people overindulge sometimes, but no one pays attention when it's a naturally thin person.

    Sounds like you've found a great healthy approach that keeps it all in perspective.

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  4. I don't think of disordered eating as an occasional indulgence, more like a hated, uncontrolled behavior that causes guilt and is unlikely to be healthy behavior, physically or emotionally. I notice strange food behavior, even if thin, and it's true, most don't notice.

    I think set point can be readjusted. Mine goes up very easy, down slower. but it goes.

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