Posts Tagged ‘For Providers’

How to Identify Signs of Suicide in Patients With Eating Disorders

Woman looking contemplative with her hands support her chin

**Content warning: This article discusses the topic of suicide. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are resources that can help. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Eating disorders impact about 30 million people in the United States. They are associated with high levels of premature mortality, including an increased risk for suicide. Without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with a serious eating disorder will die. Much like eating disorders, suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or any other demographic categorization. 

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – this means that for the month of September, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to raise awareness on this stigmatized topic and to spread hope and vital information to people affected by suicide. 

As providers, there are certain warning signs of suicidal thinking that you should be looking out for, as well as an appropriate way to approach someone when you spot these warning signs.

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Physical Effects of ARFID

A parent supporting a child

What is ARFID?

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder characterized by food avoidance or restriction that results in nutritional deficiencies and interferes with daily functioning. As in anorexia, ARFID can lead to significant weight loss or a failure to gain weight. It does not include concerns about body weight and shape, however. Instead, ARFID primarily manifests as avoidance related to the sensory properties of food and fear about eating.

Previously known as selective eating disorder (SED), ARFID was introduced in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The following criteria must be met for an individual to be diagnosed with this eating disorder:

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Eating Disorders Don’t Take A Summer Vacation

A person wearing sunglasses looks off into the distance

For many, summertime means vacations, long, warm days, and a much-appreciated break from school or work. It is a season of sunshine and recreation. For the millions of people with an eating disorder, however, summer often means something much more difficult than carefree leisure and freedom.

As the school year ends and summer approaches, now is the time to plan for and address the common challenges facing people with eating disorders during the summer. In this article, we discuss some key factors that make this season difficult for those affected by these illnesses and describe how providers and loved ones can help to connect them with support.

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Muscle Dysmorphia, Sports, and Eating Disorders in Males

A person standing beside a weight rack at a gym

There’s a question that has swirled around the eating disorder field for decades: Where are all the males?

Our understanding of eating disorders in males is limited because the field has historically focused on females. Research has centered on females, diagnoses were organized around them, and screening tools and assessments have been normed to them.

We don’t have research that establishes what it means to have an eating disorder if you are male. We can approximate the population of males with eating disorders as 1/3 of the total number of people with eating disorders—but then the question arises: Why? Why would so many fewer males than females be affected?

It is unlikely that having two XX chromosomes instead of one X and one Y is the reason. Therefore, we must search for other factors to help us understand and explain the significantly lower rate in males. Are we missing the males with eating disorders?

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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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