21 diet dangers: What's normal, what's not?

SELF's in-depth report reveals that disordered eating may be more common that you think. Are you at risk?

By Tula Karras

All of the habits listed below can be disordered. "The litmus test is whether the behavior negatively affects your health or interferes with your daily functioning," says clinical psychiatry professor Timothy D. Brewerton, M.D. If you're worried, see "How to Get (and Stay) Healthy Again."

  • A very strong fear of gaining 5 pounds
  • Following strict food rules
  • Dieting for more than three quarters of your life
  • Use of diet pills or laxatives
  • Fasting or juice cleanses to lose weight
  • Overexercising
  • Cutting entire food groups from your diet, except for religious reasons
  • Eating the same "safe" foods every day
  • Extreme calorie restriction
  • Thinking about food more than 50 percent of the time
  • Obsessive calorie counting
  • Intentionally skipping meals to lose weight
  • Bingeing or vomiting
  • Smoking for weight loss
  • Lying about how much you've eaten
  • Consistently overeating when you're not hungry
  • Eating a lot of no- or low-calorie foods
  • Having concerns about your eating or weight that interfere with your life (e.g., you won't see the doctor)
  • Considering foods to be good or bad
  • Visiting pro-anorexia or pro-bulimia websites

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