Posts Tagged ‘For Providers’

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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Questions You Should Ask Every Patient About Their Relationship With Food

A doctor in a telehealth session

You’re invited!

Whether in-person or virtually, you’re invited to assess, assess, assess! In school, we clinicians are taught to ask questions—so many questions. We are taught to ask about our patients’ history, about their current happenings, and about their future hopes and dreams. We are taught to ask about easy things and hard things. We are taught to ask about things that aren’t socially appropriate, things that are extremely uncomfortable outside the confines of medical and mental health settings. We are trained to ask questions about substance use, depression, anxiety, suicide, sexual behaviors, and peculiarities of the human body and its functioning.

Yet, so often, we forget to ask questions about one of the things that sustains life: FOOD! We know that to survive we need to eat. From the moment of conception to the moment of death, we are required to consume, in some way, calories that feed and nourish the systems within the body. Why, then, do we shy away from asking questions about this life-giving, life-sustaining human behavior?

Anecdotally, I hear medical and mental health providers say, “We have never had training,” “I don’t know what to ask,” and “I’m not sure what to do if it seems as though there might be a problem.” However, in the same way that we all learned how to ask and how to respond or intervene following questions about suicidal ideation or even substance use, we all can become more comfortable with integrating questions about eating disorders into our assessments of 100% of our patients.

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Our Top 7 Peace Meal Episodes for Providers

A phone with headphones with a plant and a mug of coffee on either side

The Emily Program’s Peace Meal podcast is officially in its third year of production! To celebrate the milestone, we listened back to our first two years of episodes and rounded up our choice picks for healthcare providers. Tune in to this sampling to hear eating disorder experts and people in recovery provide education by way of clinical experience, research, and personal stories. You’ll learn how to better understand, identify, and address eating disorders in your everyday interactions with patients.

Episode 2: Eating Disorders 101

For a basic introduction to eating disorders, this 101 primer is the place to start. Therapist Jennifer Nelson lays out general eating disorder facts, including the primary types and diagnoses, risk factors, and warning signs.

Rejecting the myth that eating disorders are always visible, Jennifer explains that the illnesses are in fact often missed by both providers and clients themselves. Eating disorders don’t have a look, size, or shape, she says, and many symptoms are easily dismissed or hard to see. They often develop slowly and subtly over time. Emphasizing the importance of close, careful examination and early intervention, Jennifer also offers advice to providers concerned about their patients.

Listen to the episode here.

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