Our society continues to perpetuate the myth that eating disorders are an issue primarily affecting young, thin white women. While research on eating disorders in marginalized groups has improved, our society has a long way to go to truly understand the scope of eating disorders within underserved populations. For example, though rates of binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa in the Hispanic community are often the same or greater than in non-Hispanic white communities, they often go undetected due to stereotypes about eating disorders (Alegria et al., 2007).
Racism is embedded in the world at large and trickles down to national and state levels, institutions, policies, procedures, and systems of care. Its presence also heavily predicts both mental and physical health outcomes. By educating ourselves on the lived experiences of Hispanic and Latinx Americans and learning how racism operates within the systems that provide services, we can build our collective cultural humility and ultimately improve access to care and health outcomes for this community.
Read on to learn the prevalence of eating disorders in the Hispanic and Latinx population, the factors that influence the development of these illnesses, and the barriers to treatment for this community.
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Farheen Ahmed is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying Neuroscience on the pre-medical track. She is originally from Virginia and spends almost half of every year in Houston, Texas. In her free time, you can find her working at her research lab, volunteering for Rock Recovery, hanging out with her friends, or reading romance novels. Farheen struggled with an eating disorder throughout her high school years and can proudly say she is a recovered survivor.
Ramadan is an Islamic holiday where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. The purpose of Ramadan is to allow one to spiritually grow and become close to one’s family, friends, and God. Abstaining from pleasures and avoiding smoking, eating, and drinking between sunrise and sunset is also a reminder of everything there is to be grateful for. At the end of the 30 days, families and friends come together to celebrate Eid—the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
Most people don’t realize that binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder. In fact, BED is three times more prevalent in the U.S. than anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa combined. And in addition to the millions of Americans diagnosed with BED, many more are living with a pattern of binge eating or compulsive overeating, conditions often diagnosed as Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorders (OSFED).
Despite the prevalence of binge eating disorder and OSFED with a pattern of binge eating, few treatment options are specifically designed to address the unique needs of those affected. Treatment has traditionally been offered in mixed-diagnosis settings that serve people with all types of eating disorders. While these programs do provide an opportunity for intervention and growth, individuals with BED or OSFED with a pattern of binge eating often report feeling unseen, unheard, or misunderstood.
To address this reality, The Emily Program has introduced CARE IOP, a virtual intensive outpatient program specifically for people with binge eating disorder or OSFED with a pattern of binge eating. This stand-alone program is designed to address the unique needs of those struggling with these conditions and honor their diverse and intersectional experiences.
Erin Werner is a mental health administrator, student, makeup artist, and ordained minister who enjoys being present with her family, cooking, and baking. In this episode of Peace Meal, she shares her eating disorder experience, including the factors that contributed to her illness, her process of seeking help, and the power of mindful self-compassion in her recovery.
Erin recounts her struggle with multiple eating disorders, illnesses that were characterized by bingeing, restricting, and purging throughout her adolescence and into her 20s. She then explains how, with the help of her parents, she started therapy and learned to identify the factors and co-occurring issues that were masking and influencing these conditions. Over time and with professional help, she learned the skill of mindful self-compassion, which was critical to her recovery. She shares how she has developed better coping mechanisms through the practice of self-compassion and overall feels more at peace with herself, her body, and food. In addition to finding a passion for cooking, she can now see food for what it is, fuel for the body.
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Katie Tercek is a TV reporter in Cleveland, Ohio. She wants to share her eating disorder recovery journey to help others. After not eating enough to spin into a binge cycle, she now shares how she is recovered from her eating disorder. She is still learning about and healing her relationship with food. Join Katie as she breaks down her journey. You can follow Katie on Instagram (@katietercek).
The average number of products in a grocery store tops 28,000, according to the Food Marketing Institute. It’s enough to overwhelm any shopper. For those with eating disorders, the tremendous selection can further heighten difficulties with food and make grocery shopping an errand that is anything but enjoyable.
Food is a common preoccupation and trigger in eating disorders of all types, including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and OSFED. Thoughts of food often consume the day, as do rules of what, when, and how much should be eaten. The abundance of food at the grocery store can exacerbate these thoughts, sparking significant anxiety, fear, and distress upon entry. Factor in the store aisles awash with food labels and fellow shoppers commenting on food, and it’s no surprise that the grocery store is a highly stressful environment for those with eating disorders.
In this article, we provide several strategies for grocery shopping in eating disorder recovery. Learn how to navigate the shelves in person or virtually, and ensure you check out with items that serve your recovery.
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