When does a diet become an ED?
When does 'comfort eating' become an ED?
When does an obsession become an ED?
These same questions could be said when thinking about the boundaries of other mental illnesses, like when does sadness become clinical depression? Is it all subjective?
If i were to look at Something Fishy's 'ED or Diet?' page it doesn't get much clearer:
"Dieting is about doing something healthy for yourself." When is dieting ever healthy? (EDIT: with the exception of losing weight for health reasons when one is clinically overweight) Is Atkins (or any other fad diet) healthy?
"Eating Disorders are about trying to make your whole life better through food and eating (or lack of)." Isn't this the case for many teens who diet? They believe they'll be more attractive, popular and/or happy if they're thinner?
"Eating Disorders are about how life won't be good until a bit (or a lot) of weight is lost, and there's no concern for what kind of damage you do to yourself to get there." 1 in 4 teenage girls use unhealthy methods of weightloss (such as skipping meals, purgeing, laxative abuse and excessive exercise), do 1 in 4 teenage girls have EDs? And, do all those with EDs not care whether they damage their body?
When ED sites and the media claim that eating disordered behaviour and thoughts such as laxative abuse, extreme dieting, distorted body image, etc, are indicative of an ED, does it not make sense that maybe thousands of teenage girls believe they have an ED when they do not? (the numbers applying to livejournal proanorexia is thousands per month, the majority labelling themselves as 'EDNOS'). Or the opposite, these distortions are so common that those with real problems see themselves as normal?
Yoyo dieting, binge-eating, exercise to shape the body, exercise specifically to burn calories, skipping meals, cutting out major food groups, restricting calories, restricting fat intake, distorted body image, body shape obsession, low self-esteem, guilt when eating, guilt upon gaining weight, obsessive relationship with food .... aren't these eating disordered?
So how could an ED possibly be defined? Is it the motivations for weightloss? Is it the extremity of behaviour? Is it the extremity of the thoughts? Is it the length of time it lasts? Is it how easy it is for one to stop the behaviours?
How is a person who hasn't spoken to a doctor (many of whom of course still being ignorant to some EDs) to know whether or not they have a problem?