Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

Autism and Eating Disorders

A child with an anxious expression sitting in front of a plate of food.

Note: In this blog, we use identity-first language (e.g., “an autistic individual”) to reflect the preferences of self-advocates who embrace autism as an identity category – a diverse way of perceiving and interacting with the world (Taboas et al., 2022; Bury et al., 2020). However, we recognize that preferences for this language vary; whenever possible, please ask an individual what they prefer.

Living with and treating an eating disorder may be complicated by the presence of a co-occurring condition, particularly when the condition shares characteristics with an eating disorder. One such condition that shares some psychopathology with a disordered eating mindset—and is frequently seen alongside an eating disorder diagnosis—is autism spectrum disorder.

There are a number of factors that increase the risk of disordered eating or an eating disorder in an autistic individual. By looking at the nature of both eating disorders and autism spectrum disorders, we can better understand their relationship and improve the detection, care, and treatment of both conditions.

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How to Recognize Eating Disorders in Your Patients Over the Holidays

A Thanksgiving place setting

The holiday season is beginning. Although this time of year can bring much joy, it can also come with difficulties, especially for those with eating disorders. In a season that often involves large shared meals, diet talk, and an abundance of sweet treats, it’s no wonder that this time may be challenging for a person struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder. 

When seeing patients during the holiday season (and all year long), providers like you have a unique role in recognizing eating disorder symptoms. Your appointments are a valuable opportunity to notice signs of trouble and provide support during what is often the most challenging time of year for those with these illnesses.  

Read on to learn about the challenges facing those with eating disorders during the holidays, as well as what providers can do to support those struggling.

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Understanding Eating Disorders in the Hispanic & Latinx Community

A woman sits in front of a computer

Our society continues to perpetuate the myth that eating disorders are an issue primarily affecting young, thin white women. While research on eating disorders in marginalized groups has improved, our society has a long way to go to truly understand the scope of eating disorders within underserved populations.  For example, though rates of binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa in the Hispanic community are often the same or greater than in non-Hispanic white communities, they often go undetected due to stereotypes about eating disorders (Alegria et al., 2007).

Racism is embedded in the world at large and trickles down to national and state levels, institutions, policies, procedures, and systems of care. Its presence also heavily predicts both mental and physical health outcomes. By educating ourselves on the lived experiences of Hispanic and Latinx Americans and learning how racism operates within the systems that provide services, we can build our collective cultural humility and ultimately improve access to care and health outcomes for this community.

Read on to learn the prevalence of eating disorders in the Hispanic and Latinx population, the factors that influence the development of these illnesses, and the barriers to treatment for this community. 

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Gastroparesis and Eating Disorders

A person clutching their stomach in discomfort.

Gastroparesis is a stomach condition that is highly prevalent within the eating disorder community. The term “gastroparesis” directly translates to “stomach paralysis.” This condition acutely affects the normal movement of the stomach muscles. Perhaps you or a loved one suffers from gastroparesis, or maybe this is your first introduction to the condition. Regardless of your baseline understanding, this comprehensive overview aims to expand your awareness so that you can identify symptoms and recognize the link between gastroparesis and eating disorders.

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Using Self-Compassion to Combat Motivational Perfectionism

Ben Eckstein

One of the tricky things about mental health problems is that the outside world only sees the tip of the iceberg. The observable behaviors and symptoms are apparent for all to see, but underneath the visible exterior is a complex set of thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and experiences. These are the mechanisms which truly power things like eating disorders and OCD, but for better or worse, they tend to go unnoticed. It makes sense, then, that someone might believe that treating these problems is as simple as telling someone to “just eat” or to “just stop eating.” After all, we have the ability to make choices about our behavior, so shouldn’t we be able to wrangle these symptoms into our control? When a therapist says to resist a compulsion or to follow a meal plan, aren’t they saying that it’s just a matter of pushing through the discomfort?

As you probably know, it’s not quite that simple. Sure, determination and willingness will come in handy, but we have to be careful not to reduce this process to something so simple. The oversimplified American mentality of “picking yourself up by your bootstraps” doesn’t always fit with the complexities of mental health. Tempting as it might be to double down on willpower, it’s actually not a particularly effective way to get things done. Willpower is a finite resource. We inevitably lose steam and end up depleted. 

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Invisible Women: Eating Disorders Hiding in Plain Sight

Margo Maine

“Eating disorders.” Reading those two words, most of us just visualized a teenage or college-aged girl. And let’s be honest—she’s probably white as well.

Not so long ago, age seemed to immunize adult women from the body image concerns, weight issues, and eating disorders that plague the younger years. Although most cases still appear in adolescent girls and young women, an alarming shift has occurred. Eating disorders have been on the rise among middle-aged and older women. Between 1999 and 2009, inpatient admissions showed the greatest increase in this group, with women over age 45 accounting for a full 25% of those admissions in the United States. Despite this, these women are invisible in our healthcare system. This must change.

The cultural pressures to be perfect—including having a flawless, slim body—have no expiration dates and no boundaries. This pressure is now occurring across age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, ability, class, culture, and place. Our fast-moving consumer culture has created unprecedented opportunities and stress for women. Despite growing economic strength, political influence, and educational and career opportunities, a Gallup Well-Being Index indicates that women aged 45 to 64 have the lowest well-being and highest stress of any age group or gender in the United States.

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