The Disordered Eating Epidemic
By Mosope Idowu

Thanks to all the images that often bombard our social media feeds and television screens, it is no surprise that there is an obsession with size and weight in our society today.

There is often much talk about “eating disorders” which only affects 1-3 per cent of our population; while the bigger issue that often goes unchecked is “disordered eating”. The latter is more prominent (in over 50% of the population) and continues to increase at an alarming rate -especially amongst women.

Disordered Eating is defined as a variety of abnormal eating behaviors that negatively affects the health of an individual and interferes with the daily metabolic functions. Disordered eating could fall into one of the following categories:

  • Calorie Prisoners – people who due to their fear of gaining weigh tend to see food as either GOOD or BAD and then feel guilty when they eat any food that they consider to be BAD and therefore off limits. Such people are likely to beat themselves up for having a cookie or a slice of cake. But, the truth is that the guilty feeling has a worse effect on them physically and psychologically than the food that they have eaten. Such guilty feelings lead to an increase in the stress hormones in the body, which results in more fat being stored in the body and therefore weight gain.

.Secret Eaters – people who binge eat junk food in secret  so that they will not be seen. Such people make so much show in public of being either on this diet or that diet or exclaim when offered certain foods that “I cannot eat that!’ Yet they will hide and eat these same foods in private. Such people care more about how people perceive them than about the actual condition of their health and wellness and will  never lose any weight.


  • Career Dieters – This category of people are unable to decide what to eat without an outlined meal plan to follow. Such people are likely to jump from one weight-loss program to another. They never really learn anything because they simply just do as they are told without seeking to understand why. Once such a person goes off the plan they will ultimately gain all the weight back because they have not consciously cultivated healthy habits.
  • Purgers – These set of people try every means possible to get rid of “unwanted calories” by using things like laxatives or by vomiting. These people will eat (often uncontrollably) and then purge. They never give the calories that they have consumed an opportunity to do what it needs to do in the body. Such people are more prone to sickness,  tend to have low energy levels and are more likely to develop a full-blown eating disorder if this behavior persists.


  • Food Addicts (Emotional Eaters) – These category of people think about food all the time and use it to validate their emotions, be it to soothe sadness, to celebrate success or deal with anger/frustration. Such people tend to be overweight because they are unable to control their food intake.
  • Extreme Exercisers –These set of people work out excessively – regardless of illness, tiredness or injury – and do not fuel their bodies properly. Such behavior will eventually lead to an injury that could render them inactive for months or years and ultimately result in excessive weight gain.

As you can see none of these behaviors will result in any kind of long-term weight loss or maintenance. Short-term extremes are harmful to the body, they do not work, and they do not teach you anything in the long-term.

Rather, the best approach to weight-loss and maintenance is to educate yourself, learn to make healthy choices and commit to making it a lifestyle.


Mosope Idowu is the founder of Bethel Fit Mum, which caters to busy mums with young children who have limited time and feel overwhelmed by the demands of life, but desire to improve their health and fitness. She is a certified personal trainer/fitness coach with specialisation in post-partum weight loss and healthy nutrition.

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