There’s Help. There’s Hope! The Emily Program is a warm and welcoming place where individuals and their families can find comprehensive treatment for eating disorders and related issues. This blog is a place for us to share the latest happenings at The Emily Program, as well as helpful tidbits from the broader eating disorder community. Subscribe via RSS to receive automatic updates. We want to hear your story. Email us (email@example.com) and ask how you can become a contributor!
The mission of WithAll’s “What to Say” campaign is to stop diet and weight talk to protect the physical and mental health of kids. Find resources for what to say instead, as well as answers to your everyday questions about supporting kids as they navigate food and body image issues.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) provides an educator toolkit, school resources, and educational brochures that can be downloaded for free.
Be Real provides curriculum resources to use with children in classroom settings or after-school groups.
View this recorded presentation from The Emily Program to learn eating disorder basics.
Download informational materials from The Emily Program. Materials can also be ordered and sent to your school or community center.
An estimated 30 million people in the United States have an eating disorder. The majority of them do not receive professional care. Many experience shame and stigma because of their illness, and many struggle all alone.
By educating ourselves and others, we can work to reduce stigma and to better understand these complex illnesses that affect so many. Here are five myths and facts about eating disorders.
Fact: This is the stereotypical image of eating disorders—a thin, young, white woman. It is this woman we’ve seen in media depictions of these disorders and heard about most in common chatter. Even within the field, research has historically focused on clients who fit this profile, in part because white women were (and still are) the most likely to receive care.
But this narrow demographic does not accurately reflect the diversity of those who experience these illnesses. Far from it. Eating disorders affect people of all ages, races, genders, sexual orientations, body sizes, classes, and abilities. They’re not just a “teenager’s problem” or a “white girl’s problem.” They’re not something that affects only wealthy people, or only cisgender people, or only people of any other social group. Eating disorders don’t discriminate in these ways; they span across all social categories.
We know that eating disorders can and do affect people of all ages.
They’re not a “teenage phase.” They’re not a “teenager’s problem.” They’re mental health conditions that impact children and adults as well.
We also know that teenagers are particularly susceptible to developing these illnesses. Research shows that the average age of onset is between 16 and 18 years, and eating disorders occur in nearly three percent of 13- to 18-year-olds.
It’s clear that eating disorders often develop during the adolescent and teenage years—but why?
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 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:
Individuals who struggle with compulsive overeating typically eat excessive amounts of food—but not because they are hungry. These individuals eat to feel better, to cope with negative emotions. However, upon eating, the opposite happens. They feel a loss of control, shame, guilt, and as if they lack willpower. From there, the cycle of overeating begins again.
Compulsive overeating is a description of an eating disorder behavior, but it is not a diagnosis in itself. Typically, individuals who engage in compulsive overeating are diagnosed with bulimia if they engage in purging or binge eating disorder if no purging behaviors are present.
Eating disorders are real, complex illnesses that can cause serious harm. Eating disorders are characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s eating and food behaviors or self-perception. Common warning signs of eating disorders are extreme weight changes, altered eating behaviors, or an intense fixation on food and body talk. Eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are affected by environmental, social, and psychological factors. This means that illness is not caused by one specific factor, but rather by a series of factors in an individual’s unique life experience.
Due to the complexity of eating disorders, the DSM-5 divides eating disorders into the following five categories:
Anorexia Nervosa. Anorexia is noted by extreme food restriction that causes dramatic and prolonged weight loss. It often presents with body dysmorphia and a genuine fear of food.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). ARFID includes feeding or eating disorders that involve a lack of interest in or an avoidance of certain foods that result in a failure to meet nutritional needs. ARFID, unlike anorexia, does not include a drive for thinness.
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