According to studies, about 20% of the population demonstrate disordered eating behaviors. 

What is disordered eating? It is a term that describes a broad range of conditions characterized by irregular eating and unhealthy eating patterns. Many people develop a bad relationship with food, either to lose weight or for health promotion. But most times, it leads to severe complications.

Not all disordered eating is easy to diagnose. Disorders like bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa have specific symptoms that make them easy to diagnose. However, many people suffer from subtle disordered eating with symptoms that do not meet the criteria of an eating disorder.

Some examples of disordered eating include fasting or chronic restrained eating, binge eating, restrictive dieting, skipping meals, diet pills, emotional eating, self-induced vomiting, supplements misuse, secret food concocting, and more. 

Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorder

While disordered eating describes unhealthy eating habits that can cause harm, an eating disorder is a diagnosis. American Psychological Association refers to eating disorders as life-threatening mental illnesses where the patient exhibits an abnormal relationship with food.

It is possible to have disordered eating behaviors that do not fit the eating disorder diagnosis. Usually, disordered eating behaviors are the pointer to developing an eating disorder. Thus, people with disordered eating may be at risk of developing eating disorders.

Connection Between Addiction and Eating Disorders

The American Society of Addiction Medicine now holds a definition for addiction that includes substance abuse and eating disorders. Like other forms of addiction, eating disorders involve compulsive behaviors that have effects on the brain.

In many cases, people who suffer from eating disorders are also abusing drugs or alcohol. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), women who have eating or substance disorder are four times likely to develop the other condition. 

Another connection is how people who suffer from both eating disorders and addiction use one to cope with the other.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders


  • Dramatic weight loss or gain
  • Stomach pains, purging, and dizziness
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Menstrual irregularity
  • Skin and hair change
  • Dental problems


  • Changes in food intake
  • Preoccupied with weight and food
  • Obsession with body image and shape
  • Practicing food restriction, eating in secret, unable to know when you’re full


People with disordered eating are likely to develop;

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Personality Disorders

Getting Help With Disordered Eating and Addiction

Once an addiction is diagnosed, the right thing is to start treatment immediately by seeing a mental health professional.

For a sustained recovery, it is best to treat addiction and eating disorders together. Usually, treatment would depend on the symptoms you exhibit and could be a combination of therapy, nutrition education, and medications.

Since eating disorders are linked to the relationship we have with our bodies, psychotherapy is an important treatment method to help address this relationship and embrace our body image. 

A nutritionist would recommend a healthy food and exercise approach to maintain your health and return to a healthy weight.

Hospitalization may be necessary in cases where disorders are linked to severe mental and physical health problems.

If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction and eating disorder, know that there isn’t much standing between you and recovery. 

At Anchored Tides Recovery, we offer different addiction treatment services to help women with their recovery. A lot of research and studies have shown that eating disorders are more prevalent in women and girls. We are dedicated to helping women live a better life by offering unique and successful addiction treatment programs.

Asides from therapeutic services, our facility offers a relaxing environment, professional staff, support groups, and individualized treatment for a long term recovery.

Reach out to us today to begin your journey to wellness!

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