Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

How To Support LGBTQ+ Individuals With Eating Disorders

Two rainbow hearts held together by two hands

June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and sexual and gender diversity. Members of the community and allies unite in pride and solidarity to recognize, honor, and uplift the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and/or questioning people.

As we honor the LGBTQ+ community this month and beyond, we must also commit to better understanding and addressing the issues it faces. One such issue is eating disorders, which affect LGBTQ+ people at disproportionately high rates.

In this article, we explore eating disorders in the LGBTQ+ community and offer ways to support affected community members during Pride and throughout the year.

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5 Facts Everyone Should Know About Mental Illness

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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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Food Insecurity and Eating Disorders

A person holding a bag of groceries

Eating disorders are complex illnesses. Diverse and multifaceted, they are associated with biological, psychological, and social factors that themselves are complex and interact with one another in complex ways.

One factor often overlooked in conversations about eating disorder development, illness, and recovery is food insecurity. Research about the link between food insecurity and eating disorders has emerged in recent years, as food insecurity has likewise seeped into the public consciousness more generally.  

This article describes what we know about food insecurity and eating disorders to date, how to screen for food insecurity, and how to integrate food insecurity support into eating disorder treatment and recovery. By addressing food insecurity in patients with eating disorders (and eating disorders in patients experiencing food insecurity), providers can play a critical role in intervening and supporting those dually affected.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, is the “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food” or the “limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Assessed on a household level, food insecurity is influenced by multiple factors and occurs at different levels of severity.  

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Weight Stigma and Food Bias

A person standing outside with their arms raised toward the sun

We all live in diet culture, a society obsessed with thinness and dieting. Weight and food biases permeate the air we breathe, tingeing our thoughts and actions in ways sometimes hard to notice. Providers, patients—none of us—are immune to these biases. They’re often subtle and deeply embedded, and left unexamined and unchecked, they can manifest in interactions between patients and even the most capable, well-intentioned providers.

In this article, we define and discuss weight and food bias, including its perpetuating factors and health consequences. Learn the impact of weight stigma and how to recognize and counter implicit and explicit bias in yourself, your practice, and in our larger society.

What are weight bias and stigma?

Weight bias refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, or assumptions about others based on body weight or size. Internalized weight bias occurs when these negative weight-related beliefs are absorbed and held about oneself.

Weight bias can lead to weight stigma, or the disapproval of someone based on their weight. Stigma is seeing someone negatively because of their weight, which can in turn lead to treating someone negatively because of it. Stigma manifests in stereotyping, bullying, and discrimination on the basis of weight, as well as exclusion and marginalization in media, professional, health care, and other settings. While weight bias harms people of all sizes, those who live in bodies that do not conform to “normal” body size expectations experience the greatest weight stigmatization.

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The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative Are Joining Forces to Expand Care

The Emily Program - Veritas Merger

We are excited to share that The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative have merged, joining two of the nation’s leading eating disorder treatment programs.

Both programs are known for their warm and authentic care for people of all ages and genders across the array of eating disorders diagnoses. The Emily Program and Veritas will retain their brands in their respective markets across the Northwest, Midwest, and Southeast and remain committed to maintaining the highest clinical integrity and standards of care, while expanding access to treatment.

“We are so pleased to be part of growing access to care for individuals and families dealing with these treatable, life-threatening illnesses,” said Dave Willcutts, CEO. “Our two companies together will set the standard for comprehensive care from outpatient through inpatient to equip clients and families with the understanding, interventions, and ongoing support they need to achieve recovery. We believe recovery from these fierce illnesses is rooted in relationships, and we are honored to be a part of people’s journey to recovery.”

Collectively, The Emily Program and Veritas currently have 20 locations across Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, with outpatient individual, group, and family services; intensive outpatient programs; partial hospital programs; residential programs; and inpatient care — with various gender-inclusive programs focused on addressing the needs of children, adolescents, and adults. The combined thought leadership and reputation of our two programs is exceptional and positions us as an industry-leading voice in the eating disorders field for many years to come — all the while focused on how to best meet the needs of those we employ and those we serve.

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Clean Eating’s Dirty Secret 

A fresh vegetable salad

March is National Nutrition Month. For those of us who are dietitians and nutritionists, National Nutrition Month is typically a time to ask folks to think a bit more about food, nutrition, healthy eating, etc. So, it might be a little odd that I am choosing to write about the possible dangers of paying too much attention to the food you eat! 

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that what you eat—when, how, and with whom you eat—can make a tremendous difference in your physical and mental health, as well as your overall enjoyment of life. However, we are seeing a disturbing trend, particularly online, that promotes strict adherence to a rigid set of food rules as the path to health and moral purity. This is the world of “clean eating.” 

The concept of “eating clean” has its origins in the early days of alternative medicine. People would become obsessed with obtaining health and curing disease through the strident adherence to various dietary strategies. Dr. Steven Bratman, an alternative medicine physician at the time, noted that many of his more diet-focused patients were “inadvertently harming themselves psychologically through excessive focus on food.” Also, their “exuberant pursuit of physical health had spawned a rigid, fearful and self-punishing lifestyle that caused more harm than good.” He created a name for this hyperfocus on food and obsession with eating the “right” food—“Orthorexia Nervosa” (1).

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