Posts Tagged ‘Anorexia’

Five Ways to Identify Problematic Restrictive Eating

Cutting crackers with knife

With the prevalence of diet culture and restriction-based diets like paleo, keto, and whole 30, it can be challenging to identify when restrictive eating becomes disordered. While certain restrictive diets can be healthy and not imply further eating disorder concerns, other restrictive eating patterns can be a warning sign of an eating disorder. To understand when eating becomes disordered, it’s important to be aware of the five ways to identify problematic restrictive eating.

1. Refusing to eat certain foods

An obvious way to identify restrictive eating is if an individual is refusing to eat certain foods. While not eating certain foods is restrictive, it is not always a red flag, which is why it is important to understand why the food is being restricted. For example, if a person abides by a vegan diet and refuses to eat meat or dairy, that could be healthy for them or it could be a sign of disordered eating. To understand which it is, it is important to ask why an individual is eliminating certain foods. For example, if someone refuses to eat dairy because they are lactose intolerant, that is restrictive and it is a healthy choice for them because if they ate dairy, they would feel ill. If someone avoids dairy, but when asked why responds by saying that it has too many calories or causes fat, that may be a sign of disordered eating.

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting in Recovery

Baby in white outfit

Eating disorder recovery can be fragile at times, so it is common to be concerned about if and how your eating disorder may manifest during pregnancy. While pregnancy may trigger eating disorder thoughts about weight, size, shape, or body image concerns, it can also be a time of positive change.

Understanding Eating Disorders during Pregnancy

Many women can become pregnant while in eating disorder recovery. For those who become pregnant while they are suffering from an eating disorder, it is incredibly important to receive proper medical care for both your eating disorder and pregnancy as soon as possible. This care often involves the close support of an OB/GYN alongside an eating disorder specialist. Oftentimes, eating disorders can place pregnant women at a high risk for medical complications during pregnancy—especially if the eating disorder remains unaddressed. However, with proper care and support during pregnancy, it is possible to experience a healthy pregnancy and eating disorder recovery.

Eating disorders may manifest differently in pregnant individuals but they often align with warning signs and symptoms for those who are not pregnant. These signs include:

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How Do Eating Disorders Present in Males?

Doctor writing on clipboard

As a field, we are beginning to understand that males are at a high-risk for eating disorders and that it is crucial to understand how males present with eating disorders and how we can treat them. Realizing that men have eating disorders is extraordinarily important. Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening and unfortunately, they are often overlooked and trivialized.

The reality of the eating disorder world is that the diagnoses of eating disorders have historically been based on women. Studies to define what eating disorders are have been done primarily with women. The criteria used to describe eating disorders has been normed to women. The professional field is primarily women and treatment is often designed with a gender bias.  However, we are very aware that men (and people of all genders) can get eating disorders and that more men are presenting with symptoms and entering treatment. As a result, we have a lot of work to do to truly understand how males present with eating disorders.

To give an example of how eating disorder treatment is normed to women, we can look at current eating disorder screening tests. Typically, there are statements such as these where a client can answer yes or no.

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Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorders Comorbidity

Medication

Many individuals with eating disorders also struggle with alcohol and drugs. In fact, about half of all individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder also have a substance use disorder. Let’s take a look at the nature of both eating disorders and substance use disorders so we can examine their relationship and how to best treat these disorders when they co-occur.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are real, complex illnesses that are affected by biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors in an individual’s life. Eating disorders are characterized by a disturbance in eating or food behaviors and are often accompanied by negative body image. Eating disorders often co-occur with other mental health disorders such as substance use, anxiety, or depression. Eating disorders are categorized in the DSM-5 as follows:

Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia revolves around the restriction of food intake and an obsession with body weight, size, or shape. It is the most fatal of all mental illnesses. Warning signs in preteens and teens may include a refusal to maintain an age-appropriate weight, body dysmorphia, over-exercising, and restrictive behavior around food.

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I Am

Erica Barreiro

**Content warning: some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your therapist or support system when needed.

Erica Barreiro is currently in her sophomore year of college at Kent State University studying Nursing. She loves to read, go hiking, and spend time with her family. Most of all, she likes helping people anytime she can! 

I am sixteen and sad. My dad takes me to get my first debit card and I just received my driver license. It is summer, the days are warm and long, and sunshine should be in my veins, however I am numb. I am sixteen and I took a sandwich to my bedroom to put it deep beneath my trash. I am sixteen and I have lost count of the days where food used to be a priority. I am sixteen when I found a more destructive way to try and solve my pain. Maybe I was trying to put the sunshine into my veins… I was sixteen when my dad found out, when I cried and screamed, “I can’t eat, I burned myself”. I was sixteen when he sat me down “to figure it out.” I was sixteen when he made me three scrambled eggs to remind myself food is of essence. I was sixteen when he told me to “be strong,” to “face my problems head on,” and most of all to “move on.” “Don’t worry your mother, she works a lot.” I was sixteen when my eating disorder most likely started.

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Episode 8: The Neurobiology of Eating Disorders

Brain Neurons

Episode description:

The Emily Program’s Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Jillian Lampert joins Peace Meal this week to discuss eating disorders and the brain. Dr. Lampert educates listeners on the two experiences of eating and how they play into each type of eating disorder. We wrap up the episode by comparing the brains of those with eating disorders to the brains of individuals who are unaffected by the illnesses.  

Episode show notes:

Dr. Jillian Lampert is The Emily Program’s Chief Strategy Officer and the co-founder of the Residential Eating Disorders Consortium. Dr. Lampert has a Master’s degree in nutrition and a Doctorate degree in nutrition and epidemiology. In addition to this, she is also the author of numerous book chapters and articles discussing eating disorders and she regularly speaks nationally about eating disorder related topics.

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