The relationship between perfectionism and disordered eating can be a recipe for disaster. Things that may just seem to be preferences about the way one eats, can have a larger impact on their health than they might realize. ‘A strong devotion to food rules can become prominent, these rules include what, when, and how one must eat or not eat (Brown. Et al. 2012).’ Food rules look different for everyone. They may be something such as never eating past 8 p.m., or only eating pancakes for breakfast on the weekend, rather than during the weekdays.
It is possible to overcome these rules, but the first step is to identify them. Most people probably don’t even realize they are implementing these rules into their everyday lives, but once they are discovered food freedom can become possible. Once these rules are identified, finding out what is triggering them is the next step. These rules could be the outcome of an unhealthy coping mechanism for things that are happening within our personal lives. On another note, often societal beauty standards are the reason for these rules. This is especially true because there always seems to be a new fad diet or a “quick-fix product” everyone is talking about. It can be easy to fall into these traps.
One thing to remember when determining your individual food rules is knowing the difference between a rule you have and something you truly just prefer. For example, establish if you aren’t eating muffins because you told yourself you can’t eat them or if you actually don’t enjoy the taste of them. It is also important to remember that these rules may not go away overnight. It can take trial and error to find what works best for you and listening to what your body wants and needs.
Food rules can be different for everyone. They can determine what, when and how one eats their food each day. Once you determine what your food rules are and the source of them, you can begin taking action to break these rules and achieve food freedom.
Written by Lauren Hedlund, UND Student Dietitian
References: Brown, A. J., Parman, K. M., Rudat, D. A., & Craighead, L. W. (2012). Disordered eating, perfectionism, and food rules. Eating Behaviors, 13(4), 347-353.