Do You Suffer From Disordered Eating?

By Lisa Hayim, MS, RDN, NLC

Do you think about the consequence of a meal far after it’s over?  Do you weigh yourself at least once a day, thrown off by the slightest change in the number? Do you restrict foods or entire food groups that limit the amount of food you consume? Do you skip meals, use laxatives, or attempt to fast?

If any of this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from what’s known as disordered eating.

Disordered eating includes a wide range of thoughts and behaviors that, according to the DSM-IV (a fancy diagnostic classification tool used by the medical community) don’t warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder, like anorexia nervosa or bulimia.

However, it should in no way be minimized or thought of as less destructive or mentally invasive. Both eating disorders and disordered eating carry harmful consequences.

Because disordered eating is less “extreme” than anorexia or bulimia in terms of endangerment to life, many people, including those suffering, don’t realize the impact it has on their mental and physical health.

People may begin to socially withdraw, often saying no to dinners/dates. Sometimes the suffering can manifest itself in anxiety or depression. Often, constant denial that there’s anything wrong exists.

The symptoms are harder to detect than a traditional eating disorder. Because this condition is more “silent” than a traditional eating disorder, it’s less likely to picked up by family and friends.

Many people suffer for far too long before realizing that the inner pain and conflict they feel isn’t “normal”. Others consider their feelings of guilt and shame to be completely normal, and live their entire lives without getting the help that is available.

The Signs and Symptoms of Disordered Eating

How Did Disordered Eating Happen?

In my opinion, disordered eating is the result of the messages we see and hear in magazines, commercials, and television that have left men and women suffering.

1200 calorie diets have been drilled into our head for years.  Home economics, health class, and the science courses have failed to fully teach the science of food and relay the importance of individualized needs.

We live in an “Eat this food, don’t eat that food” society, which frequently contradicts itself. Ever been told avocados are healthy, but then told they make you fat?

We make 200-300 food choices per day. Without a clear understanding of what a food will do to our bodies, our perplexity intensifies.

How to Recover From Disordered Eating

First, you must identify that you’re living in pain, and that the pain isn’t normal. Whether that be negative self worth, obsession with food, binging, or a refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of your home.

Second, accept that you’re not to blame. This is 100% not your fault. These feelings are so abundant that they can pass as the norm for many people. Social media has become a part of our routine, and with millions of messages flooding our brains daily, we’ve become more susceptible to eating disorders and disordered eating.

Third, understand that it’s possible for you to improve your relationship with food and your body.  If you want to get out of the messed up relationship you have with food, the power is yours.

Fourth, seek help. Whether from a psychologist or a Registered Dietitian, make a plan with a health professional who can steer you in the right direction.

The process of recovery may take anywhere from a month to a few years. Be patient with yourself and the process and know that you’ll soon be able to focus on the important things in life.

lisa-hayimAbout Lisa:

Lisa Hayim, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and Mindful Eating Expert in New York. She holds her Master’s in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She works in private practice, helping clients and patients learn to eat real food and make choices mindfully. Lisa believes that healthy is a complete state of physical, mental, and social well being. When we nourish our bodies with whole foods and learn to be mindful, we are not only preventing and combating disease, but effortlessly learning to appreciate our bodies. Follow Lisa on Instagram @TheWellNecessities, or head to  or plant based recipes that are 5 or less ingredients!

Eating Late at Night: Foods That Help You Sleep

People always ask me, “Is it ok or is it bad to eat past 7 or 8pm?”

What I always answer is, “It depends.”

The good news is that your body is not a clock, and if you eat past 7 or 8, then you are not suddenly going to gain 10 pounds. What’s more important than the clock is your overall schedule.

No matter what time you begin or stop eating in a day, you need to make sure:

  1. You are eating whole real foods
  2. You are starting your day within 1.5hrs of rising and eating a healthy breakfast
  3. You are eating consistently throughout the day

There is some research that shows when you eat calories late at night you don’t burn them as efficiently. Also when you eat late at night your body is focusing on digesting versus recovering, which is a bad thing. We all need recovery time, aka beauty sleep.

And one group of people that really shouldn’t be eating anything right before bed is those that suffer from acid reflux. (When you lie down soon after eating, you are more likely to have reflux.)

But the biggest thing I see affecting people when it comes to eating late is not that dinner is at 9pm versus 7pm, but rather that they are usually eating extra calories and the wrong type of calories.

3 Reasons Why Most People Eat Late at Night:

1. Hunger. So very often people eat late at night because they’re hungry, but I’m not talking about good hunger like you need a little snack after dinner because you’re burning a lot of calories and your body really needs it.

I’m talking hunger because you’re up until 3 in the morning studying for an exam or watching netflix or out with friends eating late night cheese fries when you should be sleeping.

If you were sleeping you wouldn’t be hungry, and you wouldn’t need those extra calories.

2. Emotions. Sometimes, late night eating is simply emotional eating. Maybe you’re sad, maybe you’re feeling lonely, or maybe you’re happy,  and you’re looking for comfort in a bowl of ice cream.

3. Habit. Sometimes it’s just habit. You go in to turn off the lights in the living room and pass through the kitchen and notice there are leftover cookies whispering your name.

None of these are good reasons to eat late at night.

So what if you’re one of those people that have a little bit earlier schedule and might need a legit night time snack? Sometimes the answer is simply herbal tea. Watch the video and I’ll explain why, and I’ll also give you some great foods that help you sleep when you really want to eat – not sip – something.

Eating Late at Night - Foods That Help You Sleep

3 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating This Holiday Season

Emotional eating is totally a “thing.”

Good, bad and otherwise, we’ve all experienced eating to fuel our feelings. Some of us are self-proclaimed stress eaters. I’m thinking about the college students cramming their mouths with chips and M&Ms while they’re cramming for exams. Power eating popcorn during a suspenseful movie also comes to mind.

Many of us look forward to celebrating the happiness and togetherness of the holidays with a stocked fridge and pantry. And when I say stocked, I don’t mean with healthy foods. I mean packed full of all the it’s-only-once-a-year stuff.

I’m speaking to those of you who buy the peppermint bark, snowflake cookies and eggnog because the kids’ friends – and maybe their parents – are coming over, and you never know when the neighbors might pop in.

Others of us chomp our way through disappointment, sadness and loneliness. You pick up the pint of ice cream when you find out your end of year bonus isn’t coming through, or comfort yourself with a pound of holiday fudge because you can’t get home for Christmas.

Emotional eating has nothing to do with hunger, nutrition or wellness goals. Food is not made up of only vitamins, minerals, nutrients and fiber. It’s also made up of stuff that connects to your feelings. {Tweet this}  Big sigh.

How can you make it through the emotional roller coaster of the holiday season without winding up the size of Santa? Great question. Here’s my top 3 tips to manage your emotions while keeping you in your healthy zone.


3 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating This Holiday Season


1. Reframe your intentions. Yes, you could choose to go through the holidays focusing on the guilt for not remembering to buy your colleague a gift, sleep deprivation because you’ve been burning the candle at both ends trying to get everything done before your vacation, stress because the holiday cards haven’t arrived . . . and so on and so on.

You could also choose to get through the holidays mindfully. Making the choice to focus on celebrating the company you keep, being positively in the moment and giving attention to your holiday traditions will keep you from feeling stressed, overwhelmed and reaching for the soothing arms of that hot cocoa with whipped cream.

Tip: keep a warm mug of tea on hand at all times. It will serve many purposes: the heat and smell will soothe and relax you and your feelings, it will hydrate you, and it will serve as a reminder to keep your wellness at the forefront of your mind.

2. Know that YOU are in control. You do not have to be a victim of the stress, happiness, sadness and emotional energy-suck of the holidays. {Tweet this}

Decide what you are going to bring to Aunt Edna’s holiday potluck (Rosemary Spiced Nuts, anyone?) so you are not stuck with the greasy vegetable-less eats that are offered there.

Have a satisfying and healthy dinner before you head out to the office party so you don’t wind up making puff pastries your meal. Go ahead and make the decision to stick to seltzer with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds instead of champagne.

Feeling empowered helps you control your emotions and eating.

Tip: keep a food journal from December 1 to January 1. It will help you see that the “binge” you thought you had was actually just too much brie. It will also help you eat less. Knowing you will have to write it down will make you think twice before going for seconds of the pie.

3. Triple D yourself. Use the three D’s when you’re worried that you’re going to emotionally eat.

The first D is for delay. Slow yourself down. Don’t head straight for the food. Start with a glass of water, tea or seltzer and make a conscious decision to slow your intake. Nobody is going to rip your plate out from under you and the appetizer tray will still be there in 15 minutes. Slow down, friend.

The second D is for distract. You should be catching up with friends and family. That is what the holiday season is really about. Distract yourself by talking to your loved ones, checking out the ornaments on the tree or lending a hand to the host.

The final D is for disarm. Don’t keep unwanted food in the house. Don’t hover over the buffet table. Do place unwanted foods as far away from yourself as humanly possible.

Tip: don’t bring sweets and treats home. Keep your home a sanctuary of health and wellness by stocking up on winter produce such as grapefruit, clementines, pomegranate and root veggies.

 Happy well channeled emotions to you this holiday season!



How to Stop Emotional Eating

Jamie is a rockstar advertising executive. She is hard working in her job, hits the gym four days a week, and has come leaps and bounds since we started working together on her eating. She’s energetic and quick witted at 5’5” and 135 lbs.

When we first started her nutrition work it was because she was newly diagnosed with hypothyroid.

I asked her at intake if she thinks she eats emotionally and she gave an emphatic “no! I’m so not that person.”

I listened to her tell me how controlled she is with food, but when she mentioned eating through a box of gluten-free crackers when she decompresses in front of the tube watching Inside Amy Schumer, I knew I would soon be teaching her how to stop emotional eating.

See, emotional eating isn’t just eating out of sadness or the “broke up with the boyfriend” kind.

It’s also not limited to shoving chips in your mouth when you’re stressed, or overdoing the Baked by Melissa cupcakes when you get a promotion, or diving into the Nutella jar to undo a day of disappointments.

It can also be super subtle and entirely nuanced.

Do you ever find yourself eating the pretzels and not even realize you were doing it? That may be emotional (and not that you have no self control!). Ever finish your third slice of pizza, even though you were full? Emotions, baby. Emotions.

Yes, food works. Eating actually soothes rough emotional edges thanks to the role of serotonin, our ‘happy hormone.’

Serotonin is released in your brain when you feel pleasure, like the yum sensation that comes from a chocolate chip cookie between your teeth. It can temporarily calm the anxiety hormones, stress hormones and blues.

Serotonin floods our brain with calm and overpowers negative hormonal actions, so eating actually does make us feel better. Temporarily.

As life has it, carbs and sweets (versus kale and chia) are the most powerful serotonin releasers, often sabotaging our health.

The good news is that you can assess your life and figure out where you feel you eat emotionally and plan interventions to gain control of them – or at least reel them in.

Here’s how to stop emotional eating:


3 Reasons Why Stress and Weight Gain Go Together

One of my clients is a model student. Her food journals are impeccable. Her hard work is admirable. If she isn’t in it to win it, nobody is.

Recently we were looking at her food journal and matching it to her weight log. We noticed that over a month long period, her food, exercise, water intake and sleep seemed really stable, but one of the weeks her weight trended up 3 pounds!

It wasn’t menstrual. There weren’t extra hidden peanut butter cups she didn’t cop to. {Tweet this}

It felt like a total head scratcher, but when I asked about what was going on that week, she admitted she had been covering for a vacationing colleague and her workload doubled.

Her mother was dealing with medical issues and she was in the middle of college application madness with her son.

All of these moving pieces really stressed her out.

I reminded her, like I’m reminding you today, that if you think your weight is only a reflection of the food you eat, you are wrong.

Stress packs on the pounds, just like a double cheeseburger does. {Tweet this}

Here’s Why Stress and Weight Gain Go Together:

It’s impossible to get rid of all of your stress, right? So you need to spend some extra work creating a plan of action for managing it.

Reading, meditating, long showers and listening to music can help you do just that. Time you spend on active stress management is uber valuable to your health. Plus, it makes you feel good.

And who doesn’t want to feel good?!