Tag Archives: Eating Disorders

Orthorexia

Orthorexia may not get as much recognition as the better-known eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, however the disordered eating behavior of orthorexia deserves a closer look.

Just as excessive dieting can be the simple start of anorexia, trying to limit oneself to “good” or “pure” foods may lead to orthorexia.  According to Kratina, “Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.”  Orthorexia may start out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but people who have orthorexia become fixated on food quality and purity.”

Those suffering from orthorexia may have difficulty eating food that they have not personally prepared as they may question the quality of the food. This can make socializing around meals difficult for someone with orthorexia. According to Marcason (2013), “Someone suffering from orthorexia likely doesn’t enjoy food in the same way that someone with a healthy relationship to food does. Rather, orthorexics feel virtuous when they eat the foods they consider to be good or safe, while deviating from their self-imposed extreme diet restrictions causes anxiety and self loathing.”

Like eating disorders, there are medical complications associated with orthorexia. Because many people with orthorexia will eliminate or greatly reduce certain food groups that are vital to a balanced diet, these people may not be getting adequate nutrition.

Another concern with this condition is that many individuals with orthorexia will have a great knowledge of food and nutrition but may not have factually correct knowledge of food and nutrition. Individuals should seek help from medical and nutritional specialists in order to receive the most accurate information and to better understand balanced nutrition (Marcason, 2013).

There is hope for those with orthorexia. There are trained specialists available to work with those suffering from this condition. Specialized treatment offers clients a better understanding of this condition and ways to help the individual adopt healthier outlook and relationship with food.

 

 

References

Kratina, K. Orthorexia Nervosa. Retrieved from: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/orthorexia-nervosa

Marcason, W. (April 2013). Orthorexia: An Obsession with Eating “Pure”. Retrieved from: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442471029

College Life: College and Eating Disorders

College and Eating DisordersCollege and Eating Disorders

For many teenagers, college serves as an opportunity for many firsts. The college experience is often the first time students live without their families and a concrete set of rules. Unfortunately, dealing with an eating disorder is among these firsts for many college students.

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The Holidays and Eating Disorders – APPLE

Decorations, family, work parties, pumpkin pie, black Friday, one more glass of eggnog, travel, New Year’s resolutions… the holiday season is a unique time of year. Even for those that are healthy-minded and well-balanced, this “uniqueness” often brings along some additional seasonal stress.

For individuals with eating disorders, the extra food, family interaction, media messaging, and social stress may be experienced at a greatly magnified level. As a professional in the field, how can you help your clients tackle the challenges that arise during this difficult time of year?

Try using the APPLE approach. APPLE stands for Anticipate, Plan, PLay it Out, and Evaluate. The approach is a systemic method for handling specific holiday challenges, before they actually arise.

Anticipate: Help your client identify the specific holiday triggers or scenarios they are concerned about. For example: “I’m having dinner at my mom’s this Christmas. She always makes at least 3 kind of pie and I’m worried I’m going to binge on pie.”

Plan: Help your client develop a plan for the triggers or scenarios they identified in the Anticipate stage. This plan needs to be specific, concrete, comprehensive (i.e. planning for before, during, and after), and realistic (do not set your client up for failure!). It is also best if the plan involves another player such as a significant other, family member, or friend who knows what the plan is and can lend support in the moment. Some planning tools: behavior contracts, menu plans, coping skills cards, a timeline for the event, or pre-determined back-pocket responses.

PLay it out: Have your client practice their plan. Visualizing themselves going through each step, and being successful, can be extremely empowering. You can also engage your client in role play, e.g. mimicking a difficult dialogue they anticipate happening with a family member.

Evaluate: After your client has encountered their anticipated trigger or scenario, help them process it. Focus on drawing meaning from the experience, acceptance of what happened, and sometimes, forgiveness. Despite careful anticipation, planning, and practice, things never go exactly according to plan. What went well? What didn’t go well? What would they do differently next time? What did you learn from the experience?

“There is no such thing as failure, there are only results.”
– Tony Robbins

Happy Holidays!

Strong is the New Skinny

Strong is the New SkinnyIs Strong is the New Skinny? Or Strong is Strong and Skinny is Skinny?

A lot of media attention is being paid to the latest catch phrase, “strong is the new skinny.” Many pictures have been posted on social media that display women and men flexing their enlarged muscles. Although the movement away from stick thin models defining beauty is a refreshing thought, this new form of body idealization comes with its own healthy concerns.

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Eating Disorders & Siblings: A Family Affair

eating disorders siblings family affairEating Disorders and Siblings: A Family Affair

Eating disorders are one of the most complex and confusing disorders for those affected and their families. Having a child diagnosed with an eating disorder can be very challenging for parents. Many programs and support groups are available for parents of individuals with eating disorders. However, very little attention or research has been focused on the siblings of individuals with eating disorders. Professionals and families must remember that siblings are also affected by these disorders. When a family faces a crisis such as a child facing an eating disorder often times the family’s attention will focus on the sick individual. This behavior although well intentioned can leave siblings feeling disconnected from the family or ignored by their parents. This also leaves room for siblings to build resentment towards the individual with the eating disorder and the parents that are focused on them. These siblings could also be forced into a new family role while the family organized to support the suffering individual. This could lead the sibling to take on extra responsibility to support his or her parents or take on a parental role in raising other siblings while parents are absent.

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Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

Misconceptions About Eating DisordersDebunking Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

Because eating disorders are complex and often misunderstood, there are several misconceptions about eating disorders and eating disorder behavior. These misconceptions include: people with eating disorders do not eat anything, you must be a certain size to have an eating disorder, and eating disorders cannot be fatal. A popular and incorrect notion about eating disorders is that people with eating disorders do not eat anything.

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A Guide for Parents: Is it Dieting or Disordered Eating?

Is It Dieting or Disordered Eatingdieting disordered eating

With nearly everyone “dieting,” it’s often hard to tell the difference between “dieting behavior” and abnormal, disordered eating behavior. Dieting has become socially acceptable and more than that, the social norm. This can make it harder to pick up on warning signs in your teenager because what you see might not seem too far from the norm.

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A New Wave of Bullying

A New Wave of BullyingA New Wave of Bullying

Bullying, which is different from simple conflict, is characterized by an intention to harm, repeated acts of harm and an imbalance of power between the bully and victim. Bullying has changed over the past 50 years. It’s no longer as simple as getting pushed around at the playground during recess. Access to social media like Facebook, smart phones, iPads, and other advanced technology extends the parameters of bullying into a cyber space that is not only poorly monitored, but has also proven difficult to police or censor. Teenagers are so technologically connected that one word, insult, or picture can be spread to hundreds of peers in moments.

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When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder

When Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWhat to Do When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder

When you realize that your son or daughter has an eating disorder, it can be incredibly overwhelming. Eating disorders are complex disorders and serious illnesses. As a parent, there is no “normal” response. Feelings can run from denying that a problem exists, to thinking it isn’t that serious, to not knowing how to fix it. One of the most important things a parent can do for a child with an eating disorder is to seek help from medical professionals and eating disorder specialists.

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The Problem with ‘I Don’t Know’

“How are you? How was school? How was your date? How are you feeling?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Fine. I don’t know.”

This probably sounds familiar if you have a teenager. They learn, consciously or unconsciously, that if they “don’t know,” adults will leave them alone. This phrase not only becomes an escape from adults, but sometimes even an escape from themselves.

For teenagers with eating disorders, “knowing” can be painful and overwhelming. If she knows that she wants to go to a different restaurant than the guy she likes, he might not like her anymore. If he knows that he is disappointed Dad didn’t make it to his game, then it might mean Dad doesn’t love him. If she knows that what her friend said behind her back really hurt, she might lose her friend. In these situations, it can feel safer to “not know.”

All teens struggle at times with self-esteem and self-worth. For teens with eating disorders, particularly, experiencing disappointment, fear, loss, and rejection can be terrifying and personally devastating. Thus, the need to escape from what they “know” becomes part of the perpetuating cycle of the eating disorder. Many clients have said that their eating disorder helps to numb them to these experiences.

Part of our work at the Center for Discovery is to simultaneously draw out what they know (but have denied knowing) of their experiences, while also equipping them with skills and a community of peers and staff to help them cope with what comes up. They have learned to rely on their eating disorder to resolve or erase these experiences, but their self-esteem and self-worth is also lost in the process. We hope that, as they work out these experiences and the overwhelming emotions attached to them, they will experience being cared for, listened to, respected, encouraged and empowered.