At what point does “healthy eating” become an eating disorder?

So, I know there is no fixed boundary/threshold and it will be a sliding scale, it at what point would you consider eating to be disordered?

I’m interested in learning things, I signed up to noom this morning after seeing it everywhere as a CBT approach to food relationships. My wife saw and said “you’ve got a f**king eating disorder if you think you need that” I signed up because I don’t want to have an eating disorder. Or do I already have one?

I left school a lightweight at about 160lb, I’ve been a 310lb strongman and now I am a 210lb cyclist/runner. I understand food, calorie balance, TDEE, NEAT, fuelling workouts by intensity. I am fairly robotic, I don’t have an emotional attachment to food (or atleast I think I don’t)

If I have a big breakfast, I’m happy to have carrots dipped in marmite or hummus (honestly it’s better than it sounds lol)and some soup for lunch knowing that it balances things. Same thing if I go mad on snacks or eat a whole bar or chocolate il skimp on dinner or go out for a walk to atleast partially offset things. If “we” go to McDonald’s, I’m happy not to have anything as I generally feel pretty rubbish after eating one! I do binge, but I have to really feel like I’m missing something, once I’ve finished then I might not feel like eating that item for ages

My weight hasn’t really shifted for 12months but body composition has improved. Which I know is down to calorie and macro balance.

I say this in the nicest possible way but nobody in my married family can see their toes, how is it that I’m the one with the “problem”?

Am I deluded? Does everyone have a disordered view, but it’s down to circumstances and perceptions?

Sorry if it seems like a rant; it caught me off guard this morning!


When it negatively affects your mental state.

Being interested in and spending more than the average time thinking about nutrition and healthy food is not a disorder.


Truth is there’s another pandemic that’s been ravaging most developed countries and it’s obesity.

A lot of it could be fixed with better food choices and moving more. But people don’t. So i wouldn’t say you’re orthorexic (which is the term for the disorder you’re talking about). If it’s an OBSESSION and quite negatively affects your life to the point that it controls it, then i would say we’re inching into that territory.

You sir, are aware


This might be answered best by looking at how the word disorder is used in a clinical setting.

Disorder – An illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions.
Oxford English Dictionary

This is a quote from an article about OCD:
“Looking at disorders in a little more detail, they are physical or mental conditions that disturb the regular or normal functions of everyday activities and day to day life. They can take up a lot of time and complicate the normal functioning of an individual.”

It’s not a clear-cut distinction, but basically if concern over food or eating habits are disrupting your ability to live the life you want, then it might be a disorder.

There is also a dedicated thread on the forum for discussing eating disorders;

Your description does not sound like a disorder to me. You are conscious about how you eat and how it affects your health, and you make decisions accordingly. Nothing necessarily disordered about that.

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Cheers, I’d read through part but it was a big thread!

If anything I’d say I have an exercise disorder!! It balances me as a person. I’m a total ass if I don’t exercise


This whole TrainerRoad forum is basically just a support group for “Cycling Disorder” :sweat_smile:


The owner and leader of a local race team who has a phenomenal power to weight ratio developed a eating disorder a few years back where he’d only eat healthy foods. I forget what it was called. He’s part of this story: Rise in eating disorders among male cyclists blamed on 'winning culture' | UK News | Sky News .Your ‘healthy eating’ doesn’t seem anything near enough to be called a disorder :hushed:

That’s not really a cool thing to put out there imo. I think its very personal what might or might not be considered disordered, and also “disordered” is a spectrum. The notion that someone might need to be at a certain level to be considered disordered is possibly harm causing.


My partner has made similar comments and depending on where I’m at emotionally, sometimes they hit differently. One time in particular led to some pretty serious introspection. No real words of wisdom here, just some solidarity. I know that with my partner’s comments about my potential eating disorder is just as much a reflection on their frustrations with food/weight gain/body image. It can’t help that they perpetually struggle and I’m relatively successful at hitting weight goals and making strength gains and whatnot. I try to just never talk about it, but that isn’t probably the totally best thing either. It’s a delicate, personal topic and in a relationship it involves a delicate balance of two people’s perceptions of themselves and each other.


Sorry, I am just thinking I wouldn’t call the OPs desire to be healthy a problem. If anything I’d say well done to them.


I guess you refer to orthorexia, a compulsion to eat “right”.

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You can have a problem, but not satisfy all the criteria for a medically recognized disorder. I would take your partner’s comment very seriously.

If you think you may have a problem, try to find someone who is an expert in that matter. You can also have a look at the eating disorder thread and see how much you see yourself in the experiences of others. Remember you are not alone with your problems, talk with friends and family about it.


My ex used to think I was crazy for not wanting to have pizza 5 times a week and eat sensibly. I guess most of it for her is she did not have the will power to say no where I can stop at anytime.

Most people are used to eating crap and when they see someone who does not eat junk it goes against the norm and they think something is wrong.

I also get the you look too skinny where I am normal weight. 6’ and 170 lbs.


I totally understand and didn’t think you meant anything harmful. I am likely being overly protective of specific language usage.

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And rather than deal with the realities of that pandemic, we’ve created a body positivity movement which offers a double edged sword. Feeling good about yourself is AOK. Pretending that being over weight is physically healthy is harmful and goes against all the science.

So then you get into our world where we’re counting calories and obsessing about exercise (still a long cry from full blown exercise addiction for most of us, I’d guess) and someone from main stream western culture sees what we do, and they project their insecurities on us. Not to say I haven’t been deserving of criticism at times as I’ve certainly allowed my fascination with fitness to stray and negatively affect myself or others, but mostly it’s a healthy obsession.

I’ll do it, say the buzz word we’re all dancing around, it’s call “fit-shaming”. It’s folks who aren’t taking as good of care of themselves as they know they should be and projecting their insecurities on others. The flip of that coin is obviously fat-shaming and neither of them are cool. Body composition is tricky business!


When you spend more time worrying about what to eat or not to eat than time preparing and eating food - that’s when you know it’s beginning to be a problem.


At what point does “healthy eating” become an eating disorder?

Never, because healthy eating doesn’t mean starving yourself. Healthy eating is nutrition dense (i.e. more nutrition and less empty calories per grams of food you eat) that are mostly if not all made up of whole foods. We’re all humans and we crave junk so this is not a black and white but a grayscale, obviously.

If MOST of the food you’re consuming is healthy, you’re fueling your riding properly and not overeating, you should eventually get to your ideal minimum weight and stay there. Nothing unhealthy about that IMO.


I found this is a interesting listern, from memory it painted eating disorders as both way, and easy to fall into a trap of thinking the by eating what you think is healthy, is not the same as actually eating healthly

Personnally “if” you think you have a problem, I would be tempted to find somebody who can clarify what you are thinking, maybe a sports diatecian, I’ve suffered from anxiety all my life but didn’t really understand it, friend and family telling me to “man up”, “pull yourself together”, didn’t help in the slightest, and only made things worse, it wasn’t that they were bad people, they just hadn’t walked in my shoes, by posting in a forum you get a load of people who know nothing about assosiated disorders playing expert, and if you are anything like my sister who has a eating disorder, or me with my anxieties, there is deflection from the truth in every senstance, as it’s easier to say you are full, and that the reason you aren’t eating, rather than say you just drank 4 litres of water to fill you up (for example)

It could just be that your partners comments was a little more throw away that you though, have you spoken to them about what they mean’t by it ?

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That’s the thing, i don’t think i do.

My wife is a double doctorate psychologist who has no interest in healthy eating in the slightest.

I’ve read load of the thread and i don’t have any hangups as such. I just feel physically unrewarded if i eat fast food so i don’t do it much! Don’t get me wrong, i’l happily eat all 5 donuts in a pack, but not every day


Cheers for the link,

I actually do drink a pint of water prior to a meal, especially breakfast! I strive to feel full, hence happy to eat veg, soup drink water etc to fill up on to keep a calorie balance. I really dont like to feel hungry, i get proper hangry :frowning: