Posts Tagged ‘Anxiety’

Navigating the Pressures of Swimsuit Season

A group of friends at the beach

Swimsuit season. Beach body. Bikini ready.

The terms are thrown around casually every summer. In regular conversation, on social media, and via media and advertising, we’re hit with messages that suggest we must prepare and perfect our bodies before changing into warm-weather clothing. “Get ready” for the summer, the messages say, by getting your body “ready.” “Follow this workout, stick to that diet plan, and you’ll look and feel your best!” The noise is hard to escape.

This summer, we’re confronted by messages not only about “beach bodies,” but about “post-pandemic bodies” as well. We hear and see chatter about getting our “pre-pandemic bodies” back. Diet and exercise routines are sold as a way to “fix” any COVID-related body changes or to make up for the pandemic time we “should’” have spent fixing our bodies. Amid this noise, we may also feel anxiety about others seeing us in person again, fearing body judgment or commentary. 

Combine the “summer body” pressure with the “post-pandemic body” pressure, and it’s no wonder that this summer is a challenging time for those experiencing body image concerns, disordered eating, and eating disorders. But while Summer 2021 is a unique time to reenter and reconnect with the world and our loved ones, we actually don’t need to change our bodies at all to do it.

In this article, Dr. Jillian Lampert, Chief Strategy Officer of The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative, helps us explore how we can all practice self-compassion this “swimsuit season” and help our loved ones do the same.

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Episode 55: Eating Disorders in Fiction with Emily Layden

Emily Layden

Episode description:

Emily Layden is a writer and former high school English teacher from upstate New York. A graduate of Stanford University, her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, The Billfold, and Runner’s World. She joins us in this episode of Peace Meal to discuss her debut novel All Girls. We explore the depiction of disordered eating and anxiety in the book and society more generally, using Emily’s experience with the co-occurring concerns as context along the way. 

We center our conversation on one of the characters of All Girls, Macy, who struggles with clinical anxiety and an eating disorder resembling ARFID. Emily tells us about her decision to write Macy as she did, eschewing graphic descriptions of behaviors to highlight Macy’s anxious thoughts instead. She describes what she hopes All Girls adds to the larger conversation about eating disorders and the adolescent females among whom eating disorders are particularly prevalent. Emphasizing the importance of taking both eating disorders and young women more seriously, we explore how society tends to think similarly of both.

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Strategies for Grocery Shopping in Eating Disorder Recovery

A person selecting produce in a grocery store

The average number of products in a grocery store tops 28,000, according to the Food Marketing Institute. It’s enough to overwhelm any shopper. For those with eating disorders, the tremendous selection can further heighten difficulties with food and make grocery shopping an errand that is anything but enjoyable.

Food is a common preoccupation and trigger in eating disorders of all types, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and OSFED. Thoughts of food often consume the day, as do rules of what, when, and how much should be eaten. The abundance of food at the grocery store can exacerbate these thoughts, sparking significant anxiety, fear, and distress upon entry. Factor in the store aisles awash with food labels and fellow shoppers commenting on food, and it’s no surprise that the grocery store is a highly stressful environment for those with eating disorders.

In this article, we provide several strategies for grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery. Learn how to navigate the shelves in person or virtually, and ensure you check out with items that serve your recovery.

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5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Mental Illness

A backside view of a person looking over a body of water

Mental health is health. Like the physical health we tend to associate with the word, it is a core component of well-being. It is not secondary to physical health—not an afterthought or bonus quality—but instead equally important to our overall health.

While mental health encompasses more than the presence or absence of illness, mental illness does indeed pose a significant threat to it. In this post, we lay out five basic facts about mental illness in general and eating disorders in particular.

1. Mental illness is real.

Mental health conditions are not imagined or made up. They are not choices or attention-seeking behaviors, not something that can be “snapped out of” or simply willed away. They are profoundly real illnesses based in the body’s most complex organ, the brain

As brain-based illnesses, mental health concerns like eating disorders are just as physiological as illnesses like cancer or diabetes. They come with their own share of physical health consequences as well. Anorexia, bulimia, and ARFID, for example, can result in heart failure, early-onset osteoporosis, amenorrhea, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and more. Binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating can lead to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, among other conditions.

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How to Navigate Political Stress In and Out of Treatment

An American flag hanging outside a home

We’ve watched the polls and scrolled the headlines. We’ve heard the chatter and seen the ads. With our collective breath held, we’ve finally made it to Election Day. The 2020 presidential campaign may be behind us now, but left to linger are intense feelings surrounding the current sociopolitical climate.

No matter how we voted this year, we are sure to process feelings related to this divisive election for a long time to come. Highly politicized issues seem infinite. From the pandemic to race relations and natural disasters to the economy, we continue to witness and live out such issues in our daily lives. For many, the issues are inextricably entwined with our mental and physical health; for some, they’re linked to our very sense of self. Many people carry these intersecting parts of themselves into their relationships, including, more and more, with their healthcare providers.

Below, we’ll cover tips for managing election stress, as well as advice for mitigating political tension that may emerge in a healthcare setting.

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Body Checking and Body Avoidance

A person checks appearance in the mirror

Eating disorders are often tied to a preoccupation with shape and weight. This preoccupation commonly manifests itself in distorted thoughts and beliefs, as well as in unusual behaviors around food and eating. Rigid food rules, denying hunger, hiding or stockpiling food, and eating in secret are among the key behavioral signs that may indicate the presence of an eating disorder.

Less-discussed behavioral signs are body checking and body avoidance. While these behaviors are not unique to eating disorders—and not experienced by everyone with an eating disorder—they are common in people with these illnesses. Checking involves the repeated checking of one’s shape or weight, and the other involves the complete avoidance of that behavior.

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