Disordered eating & dieting | Eating Disorders Victoria
Home Eating Disorders Disordered eating & dieting

Disordered eating refers to a wide range of abnormal eating behaviours, many of which are shared with diagnosed eating disorders. The main thing differentiating disordered eating from an eating disorder is the level of severity and frequency of behaviours.

Read more: Warning Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Disordered eating can have a negative impact on a person's emotional, social and physical wellbeing. It may lead to fatigue, malnutrition or poor concentration. It can affect someone's social life (when socialising is restricted due to anxiety around food/eating), and can lead to anxiety and depression.

Disordered eating behaviours and attitudes include:

  • Binge eating
  • Dieting
  • Skipping meals regularly
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Self-worth based on body shape and weight
  • Misusing laxatives or diurectics
  • Fasting or chronic restrained eating (read more on fasting for cultural or religious reasons)

What is considered "normal" in terms of quantities and types of food consumed varies considerably from person to person. "Normal eating" refers to the attitude a person holds in their relationship with food, rather than the type or amount of food they eat.

It is normal to:

  • Eat more on some days, less on others
  • Eat some foods just because they taste good
  • Have a positive attitude towards food
  • Not label foods with judgement words such as "good", "bad", "clean"
  • Over-eat occasionally
  • Under-eat occasionally
  • Crave certain foods at times
  • Treat food and eating as one small part of a balanced life


Mindful eating

Mindful eating is a simple-to-learn life skill which can lead people to enjoy a satisfying, healthy and enjoyable relationship with food. It is a skill that can help people break free from ‘food rules’ and begin to enjoy healthy, flexible and relaxed eating practices. Mindful eating is not a diet. Mindful eating is about the way we eat, not what we eat. To learn more, download the Mindful Eating fact sheet.

Did you know?

Dieting is the single most important risk factor for developing an eating disorder. Girls who diet moderately are 5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who don't diet, and those who diet severely are 18 times more likely.

Read more:

The Dangers of Dieting
Why Diets Don't Work
Competitive Dieting

Subscribe to EDV eNews
Email address