Posts Tagged ‘Eating Disorders’

Mealtime Tips

Chili soup

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that often lead to severe disturbances in thought patterns and behaviors. A key time when behaviors and thought patterns are illuminated is during meals. Those affected by eating disorders may dread or fear eating and experience anxiety, anger, and depression during mealtimes. 

What does Someone with an Eating Disorders Experience During Meals?

Individuals affected by eating disorders often cite mealtimes as a significant cause of distress. Since eating disorders typically accompany an intense preoccupation with food and body, they lead individuals into disordered eating patterns like restricting, bingeing, or purging. These patterns become solidified over time and become harder to challenge and break. In addition, those affected may experience significant distress over meals. Possible reactions and responses to meal times can include:

  • Anxiety, fear, or distress of the impending meal
  • Fear of the food served
  • Anxiety about eating, especially eating in public
  • Lack of appetite
  • Emotional disturbance 
  • Negative thought patterns like “I hate myself for eating this”
  • Unrealistic thought patterns such as “If I eat this I will become fat”
  • Activation of the body’s flight or fight response
  • Anger
  • Refusal to eat
  • Depression, anxiety, or experiencing an intense need to compensate after the meal is over

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Disordered Eating vs. Eating Disorders: What’s the Tipping Point?

young man looking out a window

Eating disorders are hard to spot, especially when disordered eating behaviors are extremely common. From the prevalence of dieting to the glorification of excessive exercise, it can be tricky to understand when disordered behaviors spiral into a full-blown eating disorder.

What is Disordered Eating?

Disordered eating includes unhealthy food and body behaviors, usually undertaken for the purpose of weight loss or health promotion, but that may put the person at risk for significant harm.  Disordered eating is serious and can lead to severe complications in one’s life, so it is important to stay vigilant of the warning signs and symptoms. Unfortunately, disordered eating is extremely common due to the normalization of many disordered behaviors in primarily Western cultures. Common examples of disordered eating include:

  • Fad diets
  • Cleanses
  • Heightened focus on appearance
  • Skipping meals
  • Supplement misuse
  • Diet pills
  • Extreme social media focused on appearance or food
  • Undereating or overeating

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Living the College Life: Tips for Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits

Students taking notes

Whether you have struggled with an eating disorder or not, going away to school can present challenges in maintaining a healthy, balanced eating pattern. Below are some tips to consider as you settle into the collegiate lifestyle.

Maintain a consistent eating pattern

We know from both research and clinical experience that maintaining a consistent 3-meals-plus-snacks pattern decreases eating disorder tendencies (1). It also ensures that your body is receiving the energy and nutrition needed to support the life of a busy college student. Remember, you are feeding both your brain and your body.

Mind your macros

College cafeterias can open up almost endless food choices. Remember what your meal plan emphasized, balance your meal with foods that provide protein, fats and carbohydrates. Avoid falling into diet fads that restrict one food group or another. A balanced meal provides balanced energy and satisfaction, which prevents feeling overly full or being hungry again quickly.

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Episode 15: Hannah’s Recovery Story

Hannah Johnson

Episode description:

Peace Meal’s Recovery Series aims to share stories of those in eating disorder recovery in hopes of starting conversations, breaking stigmas, and encouraging healing. On today’s episode, we talk to Hannah Johnson. Hannah developed anorexia during high school and found that it was exacerbated by society and stress. Hannah shares her recovery story and words of wisdom to those currently in treatment.

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Can how we were Raised Contribute to Developing an Eating Disorder?

Parents holding toddler's hand

Eating disorders are complex and serious illnesses that can cause serious harm to the individual afflicted. Characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s self-perception and food behaviors, eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are affected by environmental, cultural, and psychological factors. A key aspect of eating disorders is their complexity and the questions surrounding them—what caused my eating disorder? Will I get better? Do other people experience this?

Environmental Factors

There are certain environmental factors that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder including diet culture, the media, and peer judgment. Diet culture is a series of beliefs that idolize thinness and equate it to health and wellbeing. Diet culture manifests in less obvious ways, too, and can be seen in the way that menus portray “healthy” options as superior or how the typical chair size is made for someone thin. These diet culture consequences can plant the idea, at a young age, that thinner is “normal” and something to strive for, which can lead to disordered eating later in life.

The media is largely problematic in its portrayal of the idea that thin is superior. From the majority of celebrities and actors being thin to weight-centric TV shows like “Biggest Loser,” it’s no surprise that society gets the message that skinny is better. This media messaging infiltrates daily lives. There’s billboards of new diets, commercials promoting gym memberships to get you in beach body shape, and reality TV featuring only the thinnest of stars. When faced with this negative messaging daily, individuals can feel intense pressure to “fit in,” leading to dieting, appearance dissatisfaction, and eating disorders.

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How can Gyms and Coaches Recognize an Eating Disorder?

Student Athletes

Eating disorders are brain-based illnesses involving food and body that are severe and can become life-threatening. These illnesses typically involve food restriction or overconsumption, body image issues, and altered food behaviors like eating in secret or skipping meals. Eating disorders also frequently include compensatory behaviors like overexercising, which puts gym and coaches in a unique spot to catch eating disorders. In order for gyms and coaches to successfully recognize and address eating disorders, they must first be aware of their common signs and symptoms.

Eating Disorder Signs and Symptoms

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect eating habits and desires and cause severe distress about food, weight, size, and shape. Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, race, age, or any other demographic categorization. The five types of eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, OSFED, and ARFID. Signs and symptoms of eating disorders that gyms and coaches may be able to spot include:

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