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What do you think about when you hear the word binge?

You might think of someone sitting down to eat three whole pizzas, followed by a milkshake and a sundae. Or you might think of someone going to the shop and buying $40 worth of lollies to eat in one sitting?

What about the word compensate, is that something you have thouight about and if so most likely you would only think of someone throwing up?

So what if I said eating half a packet of Tim tams and then jumping on the treadmill to burn off the calories falls under the spectrum of disordered eating?

But that happens all the time, I hear it in my fitness class, from my trainer and from other gym friends? Just because we hear it all the time does not mean it’s normal.

The truth is it is all much subtler than that.

The spectrum

Binge eating like many things can be considered within a spectrum, there is a subjective binge and a diagnosed binge (read more).  In this article, I am going to talk about a subjective binge which is ‘the feeling of overeating more than a normal meal’

So what that looks like in reality:

  • This could be having two servings rather than one
  • Having a compulsive urge to overeat even though the total caloric intake is rather low
  • Eating off the meal plan and feeling shame and guilt around this
  • Eating something high in calories that makes you feel bloated or full

If you notice the distressing part is the feelings and emotions that come alongside the eating rather than the food or behaviours themselves.

Language and emotions

There is one common factor around someone who is describing a binge and it is a feeling of guilt, shame and being out of control around food.

The negative language often used is overeating, overdoing it, being bad, breaking my diet, falling off the bandwagon, being naughty.  These statements bring about negative thoughts and feelings around food and one’s behaviours.

     Statements about these behaviours reflect the extreme’s between good and bad, black and white.

On the other end there is being good, being good means dieting and reversing what I did when I was bad.

I am going to burn those calories off, making up for it today, back on the bandwagon, no thanks I am being good.

These statements are also highly linked with someone’s identity.

I am being bad > I am a bad person.

The language we use reflects not only our actions but also how we feel about actions and how we feel about our self,

What behaviours might we see?

  • You don’t go out to dinner and enjoy some nice wines only to feel guilty the next more so get to the gym on the elliptical for an hour
  • You don’t have a big night of ben and Jerrys and Bridget jonese’s diary only to wake up the next day and decide you are only going to eat an apple
  • You don’t have a fabulous date night with your main squeeze and then decide for the rest of the week you will only eat 1000 calories

So are you saying that if I overeat one night and then the next day decide to go for a big walk to clear my head and get my digestive tract functioning I am stuck in the binge compensate loop?

Not necessarily, It is all about understanding where and why these behaviours are happening.

Black and white thinking

Thinking in black and white and rigidity is one of the number one patterns that keep someone stuck in a cycle of disordered eating.

Because you are letting your feeling about yourself, and your worth dictate how you are going to eat. You are living in the extremes, all or nothing approach.  If you have a goal you achieve, set your self realistic plans in advance and make choices that match your goals.

But compensating after the fact because you are filled with guilt and shame is only going to set you up for failure down the track.

Let’s break down the cycle.

bikini body cycle

Step 1: You overate on your calories- you feel guilty and shamed – you tell yourself you are a bad person because you failed in your will power-

Step 2: You vow to make it up the next day- you exercise twice as much as normal or skip lunch to compensate

Step 3 – your bodies hormones which you can’t control go a bit nuts and you desire to eat ALL the food.

Step 4: you overeat, you ignore your internal hunger cues and your brain tells you to keep eating and eating

Step 5: You feel shame, guilt and embarrassment – except this time you feel twice as bad

This is where the cycle of overeating and burning it off starts. And this is where so many people get stuck, in yo-you dieting, being on or off the bandwagon. Life should not be a constant cycle of overeating and compensating.

What to do if you are noticing these patterns?

  1. Stop compensating, it’s doing you no favours.A compensate behaviour could be anything from over-exercising the next day, restricting food intake straight, skipping meals during the week or jumping on the treadmill to burn it off.
  2. If you overeat one day just continue the next day as per usual. Eat three meals, lots of fruit and veggies and fuel your body
  3. Focus on getting to homeostasis, getting level, getting to balance. Your weight should not fluctuate wildly, it should remain fairly stable within a few kgs. When this is happening your body functions happily and healthily.
  4. Work on your mindset. Notice when you are freaking out when you are eating off-plan or eating more than you planned for. Breathe. Remind yourself that life exists in shades of grey, not black and white and move on with your day.

And lastly, we need to untie your self-worth with what you eat. This one is something that many of us will struggle with and we may need professional help from a counsellor or a qualified coach.



There has been more and more interest in the news about the prevalence and rise of Eating disorders and disordered eating.

So what exactly is disordered eating? What things should we be looking out for and should we be worried?

Firstly I want to break a couple of myths around Eating disorders and disordered eating.

Myth 1:

Unfortunately what is often portrayed in the media is the sensationalized stick-thin young girl surrounded by feeding tubes. The truth is anorexia nervosa is actually the least commonly diagnosed, the most common Eating disorder diagnosis is binge eating.

Myth 2:

You cannot tell someone has an Eating disorder just by looking at them, or judging them on their weight. Most sufferers have normal weight and normal BMI.

Myth 3:

You can help someone overcome an Eating disorder just by forcing them to eat, or making them stop exercising. Forcing someone to stop their coping behaviours without providing them support and strategies to manage the distress will likely lead to secret behaviour or different disordered behaviours being undertaken.

If you have a client who you are worried about, or you are worried for yourself it is important they seek professional help.


So what is the difference between Eating disorder and Disordered eating?

Eating disorders, disordered eating and dieting all exist on a spectrum. A spectrum of behaviours and thoughts around food, exercise and our bodies.

> Negative thoughts will lead to negative behaviours.

> Positive thoughts will lead to positive behaviours.

Whilst people will argue that changing your diet, exercising more and looking after your self are all health-positive behaviours, it is the underlying negative thoughts about one’s self that pushes these behaviours into excessive, rigid and controlling behaviour patterns.

Thoughts and behaviours down the negative end are often referred to as a disturbed pattern or disordered pattern or abnormal pattern which is where the term disordered eating comes from.


Can you have an eating disorder without having disordered eating?

No, To have an Eating disorder you must have disordered eating habits, behaviours around food and exercise which impact on your physical and mental health.

To be diagnosed with an Eating disorder means your behaviours need to be severe enough to meet the criteria under the DSM5. A diagnosis is usually given by a clinical psychologist or registered doctor. You can still have extremely distressing disordered eating behaviours it is just that it hasn’t been diagnosed yet.


So is it really that bad if I have some weird habits around food?

Some people will have disordered eating habits their whole life and accept it as normal and not feel the need to change or seek help.

Other people may have disordered eating habits like over-exercising or undereating that only pop up in times of stress.

And others will only have a few noticeable behaviours but are consumed with thoughts and fears around food, socialising and dieting. Only you can answer the degree which it is affecting you.


What are Eating disorder behaviours?

Extreme intake restriction

Bingeing and purging

Obsessive exercising/ compensating

Disturbed thoughts and feelings about one’s body

Avoidance of social situations where food is involved


What are disorder eating behaviours?

Chronic restrained/under eating;

eg: consistently eating in a 500 calorie deficit for many months or years

Compulsive eating/ secret eating

eg: feeling as if you HAVE to eat a bar of chocolate and are unable to stop

Cigid calorie and macro counting

eg: prepping food every single day to ensure macros are not over or under

yo-yo dieting/ diet hopping

eg: jumping from paleo to keto to Atkins

Excessive exercise

eg: training for hours on end or during injury

Eating only one type of food

eg: eating only ‘green’ food or food that is ‘clean’

Eliminating whole food groups (protein/carbs/fats)

eg: cutting out all carbs

Bingeing (subjective or binge)

eg: excessive eating in one sitting

Avoiding social occasions around food or eating in front of others

eg: bringing food in a Tupperware container to Christmas dinner

Compensatory behaviours

eg: Laxatives, water loading and fat burner/supplements


Here is an example of what sort of behaviours might show up


You might be eating out at a restaurant with friends. If someone is sitting down the healthy end, they can choose to eat and steak AND a desert because that is in alignment with their hunger cues, and they have no feelings of guilt about breaking a diet or cheating.

Compared to someone who is impaired and is so unable to choose a meal of the menu due to fears and thoughts and feelings around food that they have pre-prepared their own meal in a Tupperware box.


I think I have disordered eating should I be worried?

The longer someone stays in a disordered pattern of eating and a negative headspace around food, exercise, your body, the higher the chance of developing an Eating disorder.

Challenging these thoughts and behaviours will most often involve the support of a professional trained in these areas to break the cycle. Unfortunately, a lot of people I see try to manage the behaviours by being stricter, more rigid, or swapping the behaviour for something else. Without digging deeper under the surface as to why they are struggling in the first place.

Without recognizing the beliefs and thoughts that are driving these behaviours they can often resurface down the track with even more severity.


Where should I go for help?

The first step is to speak with a GP for a full health check, there are a number of health risks of disordered eating. From there you can get a referral to a psychologist who specialises in working with Eating disorders.

Most states have an Eating disorder service and the The butterfly foundation have a national support helpline.





Our eating habits are not black and white, nor are they linear they sit on a spectrum from a healthy relationship with food and normal eating patterns all the way to the other end of the spectrum for diagnosed eating disorders.

The good news is we are slowly starting to talk about the impact of disordered eating, the bad news is from my experience working as an eating disorder counsellor it is much much more prevalent than we think.

Binge eating falls under the spectrum of disordered or disturbed eating patterns.

A binge is defined by two things

1: a caloric intake which is far greater than normal eating
2: where someone feels out of control or unable to stop themselves whilst eating


Subjective binge

Is when someone feels like they have binged, but it may be only a larger meal than their usual restricted intake. An example of this is someone who is dieting down for comp and eats twice as much as they normally would, but the amount of food eaten is quite small. You may also hear someone say they have “binged on chocolate” and whilst the amount is only 2 squares, it is the feeling of being out of control that is a worry for most people.

Recurring binges can lead to disordered eating habits as well as guilt, shame and discomfort. For someone struggling consistently with episodes of Binge eating is can turn into a full-blown Eating disorder.

Why do we Binge?

I often hear clients and trainers talking about their “binge” over the weekend, or looking forward to a cheat meal, or “day off”.
Patterns and behaviours that restrict food, all or nothing thinking, distorted beliefs about food and emotional eating patterns can all lead to someone binge eating.

Restriction of food

The more time we spend in a calorie deficit the more our body will try to resist and reset. When we are dieting our body’s “self-defence” system will set off a number of different hormonal responses, which started well back in the Caveman days of feast and famine. These responses include increased Ghrelin, increased appetite, increased thoughts and pre-occupation about food. These drivers and cues are physiologically driven and we often believe that we should be using our willpower alone to fight these urges. The truth is we are fighting our own bodies defence system, and this is a fight we will rarely win.

If you are dieting be aware that these physical cues and triggers are normal and have plans in place to manage them. For your peace of mind be aware of the overwhelming urge to eat and to overeat comes from a physiological driver and is not a test of your will power.

All or nothing thinking

The second we are told we can’t have something, what happens? We want it more and more. So the restrictive cutting out whole food groups crash diet are really just setting us up for failure. We are told no dairy, sugar or alcohol. And so when we inevitably slip off the bandwagon because LIFE HAPPENS this then triggers dietary disinhibition. Or the basically the F-it thoughts. Any of these familiar?

  • Well I have ruined it anyway might as well keep going
  • This might be my last chance to eat this deliciousness, I am going to go for it
  • I am going to break the rules, no one tells me what to do, screw this diet
  • I’ve been so good, I deserve this!

What usually follows is not just a cookie or two but a packet of the cookie, then the ice-cream and the whole pantry. The more regular this happens the more likely it is to turn into a pattern of binge eating.

Our unconscious thoughts about food

Food and diet is now part of our culture and our identity. If we are a health nut we have no problems dropping $12 on an organic maca tea smoothie. If we are a vegetarian we will get excited about the latest plant food restaurant. If we are paleo we will proudly sip our bulletproof coffee and tell everyone about it.
We all have a relationship with food and our diet which stems way back to the messages we heard growing up and the actions and behaviours we saw around us. These conversations form our beliefs about food, diets and health.

Maybe you heard conversations where people were judged on their gluttony or poor food choices. Perhaps you grew up only eating homegrown and organic fruit and vegetables and avoiding all sugars because it was better for the environment and sugar is toxic. Possibly every time something good happened the family was rewarded by going out for ice cream.
Any of these beliefs about food could set someone up for a pattern to overeat, secretly eat or binge eat. Black and white thinking about food being good or bad, distorted beliefs about food, identity and health can all lead to behaviours that result in a binge.

Emotional eating patterns

We ALL have a relationship with food. Food is joy, food is comfort and food is company.
The fastest way to change your mood is to grab a sugary treat. So if you are feeling low or sad food is the first thing we turn to. It is however only a short-term solution for what may be a deeper issue, and a way to avoid negative thoughts and feelings. Quite quickly this pattern can develop into
– negative thoughts and feelings – comfort eat- feelings of guilt and shame – comfort eat to avoid these negative emotions-

The challenge here is being aware of the triggers and emotions that drive emotional eating and create new strategies and habits to create healthier habits rather than turning to Ben and Jerrys every time you have a bad day.

Understanding why Binges occur is the first step to being able to develop coping strategies and alternative habits to manage a binge episode.

If you are struggling with your relationship with food feel free to join my supportive FB community we chat about building a healthy relationship with food, our bodies and fitness.


This is a question that has been going around in the online circles I hang out, Does a personal trainer need to look the part?

It has also been on my mind since the recent Brittney Dawn scandal, which if you haven’t been following you can catch up here, but basically, she scammed a whole bunch of clients. She is a fitness infleunce with tons of young and impressionable followers.


Personally, I don’t follow any ‘fitness influencers’ because I don’t find they have any value and their fake persona just irritate me. But I know they are out there and they are popular. So the fact that they have millions of followers leads me to believe: our clients and society as a whole place a whole lot of value on appearance, and as these people pay money to their programs, it is a general belief that having abs makes someone a good trainer.


If you believe this, I am here to blow your mind.


So going back to the question, does a personal trainer need to look the part, what does a good personal trainer look like?

The question was asked to a group of online personal trainers.

The comments were a resounding YES, Hell YES!


“Your clients want to aspire to be like you or even look like you”

“Your body is a walking resume”

“Be healthy and practice what you preach”


These kind  of trainer I see around, you can spot them a mile away. If you spot one, avoid them like the plague.


The body shaming trainer

“Your clients want to aspire to be like you or even look like you”


This is beyond concerning, this comment is at best ignorant and stupid and at it’s worst completely narcissistic.


Surely you realize that even if you give your client the exact same program and nutrition plan that you follow, they will not look like you? Because everybody is different, we have different genetics, bone structures, metabolism, gut health and of course mindset and beliefs.

Even if you look at a 6-week challenge end result, where they have had the same 6-week carb-phobic food plan and the death by burpees training regime. Look at it, tell me, do they all look the same?


These trainers post photo after photo of their abs or butts and are doing two things:


  1. Looking for external validation through likes and comments because deep down they don’t believe in their own worth.
  2. Trying to make you feel insecure and like shit about your own body so you buy their crappy program


Be very wary of this type of trainer they lack any empathy and will push their shaming and bullying tactics on you.


How to recognise them:


Genetically blessed with a big butt or naturally lean

Post quotes like “Put in the work” “quitters never win, winners never quit”

Social media is filled with tons of photos of their abs and butt

About as much personality as a rock

Post loads of videos of themselves doing Metcon or booty workouts

Selling some sort of MLM shake

Use shame-based marketing, their underlying message is “one day you could look like me, but you are too lazy”


The body dysmorphia trainer

“Your body is a walking resume”


So if our bodies are a walking resume, does that mean if your not 6% you are out of a job? Because I know a lot of people who think that and this creates a whole big vicious circle.  Females out there, it is not in any way healthy to maintain 6% year round. For most of us it will mean we are malnourished and undereating, yes there will be a few genetic outliers who can sit that low

When this happens your period stops, your hormones and fertility is a mess, your mental health and quality of life suffer.

So many people are getting themselves stuck in this trap of I have to maintain this leanness year round and then give themselves a full-blown eating disorder.

Body sculpting or bodybuilding is one part of fitness, but it is not everything, broaden your horizons.

I hope you have at least read a book about coaching, psychology or change. You can get abs by eating 1200 calories a day. You can tell your client to do that and spend an hour a day on the treadmill. But then what, are they going to sustain that? Hell bo, becasue it’s torture.


This kind of trainer can be found:

Posting lots of photos of themselves posing or training with no shirt

Spend at least 2 hours in the gym every day

Militant with their training regime and expect their clients to be too

Spend hours in front of the gym critiquing their body

Can only eat from their meal plan and have anxiety when anything deviates from it

Believe they are fat

Have some sort of body dysmorphia



The fatphobic trainer

“Be healthy and practice what you preach”


Let’s get one thing straight, you cannot tell how healthy someone is just by looking at someone.


WHO definition of health:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.


Nothing in this statement says you need abs. I know just as many people who are unhealthy in a smaller body as they are in a larger body. People whose mental health is completely wrecked because they obsess about calories and body fat. Who can’t socialise in case there isn’t something on the menu that doesn’t fit their macros?


What worries me is the number of people who have had their own transformations and are now a trainer and instead of learning how to be the best possible trainer they just spout the same methods that made them lose weight.  Your weight loss advice is giving people disordered eating patterns.


These types of trainers can be found:


Posting tons of before and after’s and throwbacks

Are fat-phobic

Are very stuck in black and white thinking

Will encourage disordered eating patterns such as cutting out all whole grains

Believe their diet is the best diet and will tell anyone who listens:”I lost 45kgs on Keto”

Often struggle with secret or binge eating due to their excessive food restrictions.



If you are thinking about buying a training service

Consumers it is time to step up and take some responsibility. Turn on your bullshit detector.

Stop buying from people just because they have abs, it mostly comes down to genetics!

And anyway what is so inspirational about having abs??

Yes, there is skill and mastery in building and transforming your own body, but doing it in a healthy sustainable and maintainable way is not something that often gets talked about.

No, we don’t need 10000 thousand photos of your abs and butt to prove that you can transform someone.


There are loads of trainers who use science and research in their methods and who have a damn good body because of it.

However they

1: don’t feel the need to post about it every 5 seconds

2: often post to share information and value

3: are human, they talk about themselves their failures and their learnings

A good personal trainer does not have a look, they have skills and education, they are dedicated and compassionate, they know how to help someone grow and change.

If you are stuck and need a good one reach out to me, I can help you.





Working in a gym and I often hear the conversations about shredding, bulking, leaning up and cutting daily. Clients and trainers talk about food, diets, calories, macros, weight and restriction constantly.

Trainers and clients celebrate dramatic weight loss without a question of how or why. High fives are given for double sessions and smash and grab training, reinforcing the idea that clients need to be leaving the gym barely able to walk after the session.

Yet on a weekly basis, I am having conversations in private with clients, trainers, and staff about their screwed up relationship with food, their bodies and themselves. This is not a mere few people struggling, this is more and more people on a weekly basis who are trying to get fit and healthy that have gone too far and is no longer healthy for their bodies or their minds.

Struggles include obsessive exercise, binging, fear of food, carbs and fat, obsessing over the scale or body fat percentage and spending hours comparing themselves to others both on social media and in real life.

These may seem like not such a big deal but these all-consuming thoughts can be absolutely debilitating to someone’s social life, ability to create healthy relationships, mental health and their belief in their own self-worth.

As someone who has been on the other side and worked as an Eating Disorder counsellor, I have spoken to hundreds of people who are struggling with this daily.  These thoughts and feelings do not just go away by themselves, it can take a lifetime to build back a healthy relationship with food exercise and yourself.


Why do we as health and fitness professionals need to know about this stuff?

Clients who are struggling with disordered eating are highly likely to be accessing a gym environment. As health fitness professionals we are in a unique position where we are trusted, we are relied upon for advice and we can create a safe place for clients to ask for support.

We are likely to see our clients regularly enough to be able to notice some of these concerning behaviours and to suggest someone gets help.

It’s important for trainers to look out for and recognize the warning signs when people are starting to develop negative thinking patterns around their food and body and know what to do about it.

A reminder that someone struggling with an eating disorder does not have a “look”.  What is important to realize is that someone struggling with their relationship with food or their body does not have to be underweight in fact most individuals are in the normal weight range. A sufferer can be any shape or size, male or female, young or old.


Giving nutrition guidance

Trainers without proper nutrition training should not be giving nutrition advice beyond their scope of practice.

The scope of practice does include behavioural based changes, eating more whole foods, 4-5 cups of vegetables, reducing processed and packaged food.

For the majority of our clients following these guidelines is enough to make a physical change.

But our clients want dramatic changes, they want to see abs and they want to see them now. So combined with pressure to “get results”, old fashioned information, trainers feel the pressure to encourage clients into more and more restrictive behaviours.

No one should be recommending extreme low-calorie diets,  cutting whole food groups, or severely restricting without any reason.

Similarly, trainers should not be encouraging clients to do the same diet they have done because it worked for them. Just because you lost 12 kgs on Keto does not mean your clients should be doing the same.


Red flags

One or two of these behaviours may not be a concern, but noticing more than three is worth exploring more with your client, or listening in to how they speak about themselves  when you speak with them.


Client’s behaviours’ you might notice

Going to the gym every day, sometimes twice per day without rest days.

Pushing through classes despite injury or sickness

Solely focused on an aesthetic goal or weight goal

Reduced socializing, withdrawal and isolation

Weighing themselves daily and the day is dictated by the number on the scale

Avoiding social situations totally due to not being able to eat off the menu

Spending hours weighing food and obsessing over calories or macros

Spending a lot of time in front of the mirror analyzing body fat

A lot of selfies and photos of abs, leanness on their social media stream

Spending a lot of time on social media comparing themselves with others

Compulsive exercising-such as running in 40-degree heat or in rain or storm conditions

Cannot take a rest day even when on holiday, or have a serious life event such a funeral or wedding that they don’t attend

Constantly cutting out food groups and then more cutting and cutting – no flour, no gluten, no sugar

Abusing laxatives or diet pills

Steroid or legal steroid use

Extreme weight fluctuations or rapid loss and regain cycling


Conversations or language clients may use

The negative way they speak about themselves, or inability to see efforts as a success

Labelling food as good or bad

Feeling guilty about missing a training session because they didn’t have a chance to burn calories

Constantly talking about how much better other people’s bodies are

Talking about feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment

The subtle signs in the way they talk about themselves as not good enough or useless

When they say consistently they hate their body

Feel that whatever they do it is not good enough


What can we do if we are concerned?

Be prepared with how you will open the conversation, don’t judge the behaviours or make comments on weight or appearance. Find a quiet place to talk, the gym floor at peak hour is not ideal. Invite your client to sit down with you after a session or grab a cup of coffee together.

Have some resources and referrals ready, even if the conversation is met with a brickwall you can provide your client with information to get support when they are ready.


Three conversation starters

Start by being curious and asking open-ended questions. All it takes is asking questions without judgement and creating a safe place for a response.  Even if you don’t feel you have the skills to start a conversation simply asking, “Is everything ok” and then listening can go a long way.


I’m hearing that you spend a lot of time comparing yourself to other people’s bodies, how does that make you feel when you’re spending a lot of time in that headspace?


I’m reflecting that it seems like it’s so hard for you to eat differently or eat more is that something that worries you?


How do you feel about the new changes you are making to your lifestyle, is this something that feels easy or is it stressful and taking up a lot of brain and thought space?


Wait and listen to their response.

These things will affect people differently, and for some, they won’t feel like what you’re noticing has much of an impact. However if your client says its feeling pretty stressful right now use this as an opportunity to suggest something that might feel less stressful using your professional judgement.

For others, it might be that they’re so stuck in it they don’t realize that it affects them negatively and this question gives them space to reflect on if it is a problem for them or not.

These kind of question gives your client an opportunity to reflect on how their actions can impact on their feelings, mood and daily life.  Your client may say I’ve never really thought about it, or they may say it makes me feel really horrible and I hate it.

From here you might be able to provide some resources or encourage them to speak with a counsellor or Eating Disorder support services.

You are not expected to be the counsellor but by knowing what is available you can point them in the right direction to get the support they deserve.


Where to refer

Ask them to speak with their GP to link them in with their local psychologist. Ideally, a psychologist who as training in eating disorders or body image concerns.

Ask them to make an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist so that you two can work  together to create a better relationship with food, a non- diet or Eating disorder trained clinician is best.


The national Eating disorders service in Australia is:

Butterfly’s National Helpline:

Call 1800 33 4673,  webchat.

Open 8am – midnight AEST, seven days a week.

They can also link you in with a specialized provider in your area.


Where to from here

One of the biggest challenges for someone struggling with food or exercise is that it can take time to reach out for help. There’s a lot of fear and shame around these thoughts and behaviours.

Letting go of these behaviours can feel like a loss of control, a step backwards, and a return to what may have been a place where they felt very unhappy. As a trainer we can provide support and encouragement that seeking professional help whilst scary will be worth it in the long run.

If you notice somebody or if the somebody is yourself there is definitely help out there.

Just know that it isn’t always going to feel this way, that change is possible that you can build a healthy happy flexible relationship with food, with your body and yourself and that there is support out there.


If you are a Fitpro who wants to know more about helping your clients heal their relationship with food, exercise and their body subscribe to my  Mind Body Peace movement. 

Or join our online FB group



You might have heard of this thing called orthorexia before, but what is it and why are we worried about it?

Orthorexia about an obsession with eating only healthy and clean foods. Orthorexia is a subsection of an Eating Disorder but it is currently not a diagnosable eating disorder as it is not listed in the DSM 5. However the longer these thoughts and behaviours are around the more likely  it is a diagnosable Eating Disorder will develop.

Orthorexia sits in the middle of the spectrum between healthy regular eating and up the other end an eating disorder, and somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is a whole lot of grey, or what can also be known as Disordered Eating.


Signs someone might be struggling

Increasing avoidance of foods because of food allergies, without medical advice

Noticeable increase in consumption of supplements, herbal remedies or probiotics

Drastic reduction in opinions of acceptable food choices, such that the someone may eventually consume fewer than 10 safe foods

Obsessive thoughts about the relationship between food choices and health concerns – digestive problems, low mood, anxiety or allergiesIrrational concern over food preparation techniques, especially washing of food or sterilization of utensils


What might lead to somebody having Orthorexia

In my experience as an Eating disorder counsellor Orthorexia most commonly begins with someone wanting to make changes to their diet to lose weight, for health reasons or reasons in line with their beliefs or ideologies eg- cutting out meat to support the environment.

What this triggers is distorted thinking about food leading to more and more food and foods groups being cut from a diet until someone is eating only from a very minimal range of items or foods.


My experience with Disordered Eating

I’ve done a couple of those eight-week challenges, bikini body king of things. I always do quite well because I am an A type and recovering perfectionist so I get really obsessed with things like that.

What is often part of those types of challenges is a very restrictive form of eating- cut carbs and eliminate dairy, as well as encouraging black and white thinking. Sugar is evil and only every brown food over white food.

When you spend a lot of time in that kind of environment and mindset these thoughts can become ingrained and part of your beliefs. Additionally, you start to believe that if you can restrict from the bad foods, you must be a good person. And indeed the more you restrict the better you are.

I found that my whole identity and worth was very much wrapped up in what I ate and how I ate. These thoughts are often very interlinked with feelings about our bodies and yourself. By eating the good foods we will remain lean and if we eat the bad foods we will gain body fat which is bad. Staying lean was the end goal no matter the cost.

I felt I was good for avoiding the office cake, and I felt wracked with guilt and shame if I ate some. I avoided social situations if I wasn’t sure there would be food I could eat, and I spent hours of my day thinking about food and what I was going to eat. Read more here.

What fuels these thougths


I have seen on Instagram lately influences really pushing #Cleaneating as a lifestyle and receiving likes and validation about their dedication and commitment, as well as comments on their body and leanness. This validation only fuels the cycle so that they feel forced to keep up this restrictive lifestyle and stay a certain body fat % even when their health might be falling apart.  You can read about the story of one vegan influencer who’s hair was falling out and period had stopped before she was able to reach out for help <the blonde vegan>

Thoughts around food and body image come from people’s fear or really kind of deep insecurities about their worth, their body shape or size, or feeling out of control in other areas of their life, which come out as a form of control around food.


Why don’t people get help

It’s very scary for someone who is experiencing that because it comes so all-consuming.The thought of trying to change these eating patterns can become very overwhelming and it feels like there is no way out. The fear of what may happen if “non-clean” foods are reintroduced often keep someone stuck in this eating pattern for a very long period of time.

What we know is the longer that they stay in these thought patterns, the longer that the harder these to break them.

To unpack these layers helps us to understand perhaps what we can do to help one another or what we can do if we see signs or symptoms for ourselves as well.

If you are struggling reach out to your GP, local Eating disorder support service or therapist.

If you are a fit-pro looking to learn more join the movement: Subscribe here, or join the MindBodyPeace FB group.