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, their current happenings, and 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 and would be extremely uncomfortable outside 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 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, respond to, or intervene following questions about suicidal ideation or even substance use, we can all learn to become more comfortable integrating questions about eating disorders into our patient assessments.
January is meant to usher in a fresh start, but it seems stuck on a perpetual loop, playing the same tired track year after year. It is nearly impossible to avoid the month’s barrage of messaging taking aim at our waistlines and metabolism, reducing our worth to our outer appearance and the number on the scale. We’re aggressively encouraged to “fix” ourselves with detoxes, cleanses, and 30-day transformation workout plans. We’re told that efforts toward “self-improvement” should be strictly in the pursuit of a “new” body—one that requires constant vigilance, control, and scrutiny to ensure it doesn’t slip back into a previous year’s iteration.
For many, a brand new year means reflections and resolutions. Amid all this “new year, new me” chatter, we want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of taking care of ourselves exactly as we are today.
We have all heard about self-care; it’s become a major part of today’s culture. Increasingly, we see people posting and talking about self-care on social media, but do we fully understand what self-care is?
In this blog, we’ll debunk some common myths about self-care and provide some suggestions on how we can intentionally care for our mental, emotional, and physical health in the year ahead.
Note: In this blog, we use identity-first language (e.g., “an autistic individual”) to reflect those who embrace autism as an identity category – a diverse way of perceiving and interacting with the world (Taboas et al., 2022; Bury et al., 2020). However, we recognize that this language may not be suitable for everyone in the community. Whenever possible, please ask individuals about the language appropriate for them.
Living with and treating an eating disorder may be complicated by the presence of a co-occurring condition, particularly when the condition shares characteristics with an eating disorder. One such condition that shares some psychopathology with a disordered eating mindset—and is frequently seen alongside an eating disorder diagnosis—is autism spectrum disorder.
There are a number of factors that increase the risk of disordered eating or an eating disorder in an autistic individual. By looking at the nature of both eating disorders and autism spectrum disorders, we can better understand their relationship and improve the detection, care, and treatment of both conditions.
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.
In this episode of Peace Meal, guest Beth Harrell, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD-S, discusses her experience in the eating disorder field, and reflects on how much eating disorder education and training has evolved since she got her start in the early 1990s. The bedrock of Beth’s career success is collaboration. She emphasizes the value of learning from clients’ lived experiences, as well as from the wisdom and vulnerability of fellow professionals. As a certified eating disorder supervisor, Beth debunks the notion that supervision is just case consultation. She guides from a place of mentorship and trauma-informed nutrition care, largely inspired by the perspective-broadening experiences she had with her own supervisors.
Beth is a collaborative and weight-inclusive nutrition professional who has worked with eating disorders, disordered eating, and chronic dieting for the past 30 years. Her work spans all levels of care, treating a full spectrum of diagnoses and ages. Beth’s passions are anything that includes learning and teaching. She has an educational podcast for eating disorder professionals (The SeasonED RD) and carries this knowledge into professional supervision, as well as a graduate elective course for dietitians each fall semester.
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