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Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

Normal and disturbed eating

Abstract: A normal person eats as controlled by needs of nutrition. A person with an eating disorder may wrongly interpret discomfort as hunger.

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Normal and disturbed eating

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Question(s): 
Written by: Gunborg Palme certified psychologist, certified psychotherapist.
First version: 31 Aug 2013.
Latest revision: 01 Sep 2013.

What is the difference between normal and disturbed eating?

Answer:

Normal Eating: You are connected to physical hunger and satiety and use this to decide when you should and how much to eat. The only reason for eating is that you're hungry and need food. Eating makes you satisfied. Hunger and eating take care of itself just as as breathing and sleeping.

Disturbed Eating: Either you do not recognize your body's signals of hunger and satiety, or you ignore and disregard them. You eat for reasons other than physical hunger, such as fatigue, stress or boredom. Your relationship with food makes you miserable and you are not able to get it into order.

 

Disturbed Eating

Normal Eating

 
What controls eating Eating is separated from normal control of hunger, appetite and satiety. It can be controlled by the will, such as a planned diet, calorie counting, emotions, and to see and smell the food.Eating is controlled by hunger, appetite and satiety. You eat when in need of food, stop when satisfied; you are usually hungry only at mealtimes.
Why you eatOften for purposes other than the nutritional needs such as to change the body shape, to reduce pain, to relieve stress, anxiety, anger, loneliness or boredom. You feel uncomfortable after eating, have feelings of remorse, guilt and shame. For nutrition, health and energy. Also for fun and as part of socializing. Eating gives a feeling of satisfaction.
When eatingEating is irregular and chaotic - you often eat too much or too little, skip meals, fast, binge diet. Common patterns are overeating or undereating, eating much more or less than the body needs.Eating is regular and orderly. Typically, three meals plus snacks to satisfy hunger.
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