A new cookie shop opened last week where I live. And when you live in a smaller town, there is always a flock to check out any new restaurant, but this is a cookie shop! So it is no surprise, the line has been out the door every time I have driven by. I am not intentionally driving by checking the line status, I am dropping my son off at work, going to the clothing boutique, going to the grocery store, etc.
This cookie shop is the talk of the town… I even overheard two phlebotomists talking about “have you been to the new cookie shop yet” when I was in to get some lab work done. It is seriously top of mind for everyone.
You may be thinking I don’t want to hear people talking about the cookie shop, but it didn’t bother me… cookies are awesome and if I am being honest, I am sitting back merely observing all of this - just waiting for the cookie to crumble (pun intended).
Right now everyone is seeping in excitement. But I already know what is going to happen next…
One of three things will happen:
Some people will get their taste of the scrumptious cookies and be done with it, without much further thought.
Some will fall into “omg, I should not eat these anymore, but I can’t stop.”
Or some will start to say “I better increase my exercise to burn these cookies off.”
But here is the reality… only a VERY LOW percentage of people will identify with #1 and let me tell you why…
Statistics vary a bit from year to year and are different for different genders, races, work backgrounds, etc. but up to 75-90% of people suffer from having a disordered relationship with food and/or their body in one way or another. And this is sadly considered a social norm… it is “normal” to be at war with food, not trust your body, and to chat about this norm (even with perfect strangers).
This does not mean 90% of people have an eating disorder. Having a disordered relationship to food/body and having an eating disorder are two very different things; however, no one suffers from an eating disorder before already having a disordered relationship with food or body.
Here are some statistics to help shed some light as to why I care about this topic and why this topic is about much more than just cookies:
Eating disorders affect at least 9% of the population worldwide. (1)
9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. (2)
Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose. (1)
10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder—that’s one death every 52 minutes. (2)
About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide. (1)
The economic cost of eating disorders is $64.7 billion every year. (2)
Nearly 70% of adult women report withdrawing from activities due to their body image. (3)
Over 60% of women in the military who were surveyed met the criteria for an eating disorder. For Marine Corps respondents, 97.5% met the criteria to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. (4)
Disordered eating has increased across all demographics, but at an even faster rate for older people, males, and people with a lower socioeconomic status. The researchers noted "the ‘democratization’ of disordered eating." (5)
74.5% of women reported that their concerns about shape and weight interfered with their happiness. (6)
These are just some of the staggering available statistics, but here is the thing…
These numbers are gravely missing many who have been taught to not speak up on this topic and those who are too embarrassed to speak up.
Anecdotally, I have only met a few rare people that have not been negatively impacted by diet culture, resulting in either a disordered thought pattern related to food or body OR a disordered relationship to food and body OR an eating disorder.
Therefore, if you identify more with #2 or #3, you are not alone.
You may even feel some feelings of confusion or jealousy of those that identify with #1 more. I mean, how could someone literally not feel bad about eating something that is absolutely delicious and brings great joy to so many, wait, I mean sugar… Sugar is evil. Yes! How can someone only feel joy while eating sugar without feeling remorseful, out of control, or an inherent need to burn it off?
You may not believe me, but it is possible! Join my Free Group Mindful & Intuitive Eating for Women to start to learn more about how.
If you are curious about what the risks are to have a disordered relationship with food and body, here are a few:
• A clinical eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED)
• Osteoporosis or osteopenia: a reduction in bone density caused by a specific nutritional deficiency
• Fatigue and poor sleep quality
• Gastrointestinal problems such as constipation and/or diarrhea
• Muscle cramps
• Feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem
• Depressive or anxious symptoms and behaviors
• Nutritional and metabolic problems
If you are feeling doubtful that you can eat a cookie with complete and total pleasure and satisfaction, without guilt or feeling out of control, come join me in the Mindful & Intuitive Eating for Women Facebook Group to decide for yourself!
Deloitte Access Economics. The Social and Economic Cost of Eating Disorders in the United States of America: A Report for the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders and the Academy for Eating Disorders. June 2020.
Etcoff et al (2006). Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the foundation of beauty beliefs. Findings of the 2005 global study
Reba-Harrelson L, Von Holle A, Hamer RM, Swann R, Reyes ML, Bulik CM. Patterns and prevalence of disordered eating and weight control behaviors in women ages 25-45. Eat Weight Disord. 2009 Dec;14(4):e190-8. doi: 10.1007/BF03325116. PMID: 20179405; PMCID: PMC3612547.