Posts Tagged ‘Bulimia’

Eating Disorders in Older Adults

Woman standing on a bridge

There are many stereotypes that feed into society’s perception of the type of people afflicted by eating disorders. If we could, those of us at The Emily Program would scream it from the rooftops: Eating disorders do not discriminate! A person’s sex, race, age, socioeconomic status, and culture don’t matter when it comes to disordered thinking about food! In this post, we focus on age and the similarities and differences of eating disorders in older adults compared to young and middle-aged adults. We will also cover the importance of seeking help, no matter a person’s life stage.

Setting the Record Straight on Eating Disorders and Age

Many people think eating disorders only affect young or middle-aged adults and that beyond those years, the disorders disappear. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Eating disorders do primarily affect younger populations, and they often manifest in younger adults. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), it is true that eating disorders appear in early adulthood: the median age of onset for bulimia and anorexia is 18, while the median age of onset for Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is 21. However, if one of those eating disorders—or any disordered eating—goes untreated early on, that simply means that those with the eating disorder will likely continue to suffer into late adulthood. In other words, if an older adult is suffering from an eating disorder, that person has been plagued with the symptoms for decades. Adding to that heartbreak, because these adults have suffered for so long, it’s less likely that they will seek help during their golden years.

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Five Ways to Beat the Binge/Purge Urge

thoughtful woman

For those struggling with bulimia, the desire to binge and purge can be overwhelming. If you are struck with the urge to binge and purge, stay strong and look for ways to cope that don’t involve eating disorder behaviors.

Take time

Clinical evidence shows the longer you can separate the action of purging from the impulse to do so, the more likely it is that the urge will lessen. By taking a break and engaging in a mindful activity for 5-10 minutes, you can work to ease the intensity of your feelings. You could do laundry, go for a relaxing walk, work in the garden, take a long shower, or any other activity that provides a distraction.

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How Sobriety Influenced my Eating Disorder Recovery

Rachel Moe

**Please keep in mind this is one person’s story and that everyone’s path to recovery and beyond will be unique.

Rachel Moe is a Registered Nurse, Emily Program client, Aunt, coffee connoisseur, and writer who loves sharing her experience through recovery in hopes of connecting with and helping others. Rachel started and leads an Eating Disorders Anonymous meeting in Duluth, MN. She also recently started a blog and plans to dive more into recovery advocacy, as she is passionate about ending the stigma around mental illness. She loves to hike, spend time with her family and friends, write, and practice yoga.

I vividly remember the first time I was told by someone that I may be an alcoholic and I should consider a life of sobriety. It was a hot August day in the Twin Cities, I was 24 years old, and sitting in my therapist’s office in a residential treatment center for my eating disorder. I had already been struggling with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa since the age of 13. My parents were on the couch across from me, tears in both of their eyes, and we were participating in family week at treatment. Now, this was not the first time someone had brought up my drinking and substance abuse to me, this was just the first time that I chose to truly listen to what was being said. I could no longer deny my life was falling apart as a result of alcohol, drugs, and my eating disorder.

The flood of emotions came immediately that day—sadness, shame, anger, grief. I mostly felt sad for my parents. I felt as though I had already inflicted enough pain through my eating disorder, how could I add another diagnosis to the list that has been growing for as long as I can remember? I felt angry that once again, I was different from my peers. In my group of friends, I was always the friend who was too anxious to go out for pizza or ice cream, so how could I also be the sober one as well?

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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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