Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Eating Disorders 101

Forks and knives

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.

Types of Eating Disorders

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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How Healthcare Providers can Identify Eating Disorders in Non-White Patients

Woman using computer on couch

Eating disorders have stereotypically been associated with slim, white, young, heterosexual women. In reality, eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of how they identify. Eating disorders are brain-based biological illnesses that have complex causes and require specialized care. However, the stereotypical misconception of someone with an eating disorder has serious ramifications on who is diagnosed and continues on to receive proper treatment.

Consequences of the Thin, White Woman Stereotype

Historically, there has been a misconception that eating disorders affect only thin, young, white females. Advocate Claire Mysko says, “This early assumption that eating disorders primarily affect young, affluent white women was based on the research that was conducted on young, affluent, white women.” This research conducted on only white women led people to believe eating disorders were only a white woman’s disease. Despite most providers now knowing that this is false, the initial belief had serious implications for eating disorder treatment today.

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Episode 6: Let’s Talk Nutrition!

Vegetable dish

Episode description:

Dietitian Bailey Weirens joins Peace Meal to discuss the truth behind nutrition and healthy eating. Bailey discusses the importance of calories, why macro and micronutrients are important, and what recovery meal plans are. By advocating for an anti-diet approach to nutrition and promoting body acceptance, Bailey enlightens listeners on the importance of listening to our bodies in order to sustain long-term health and wellbeing.

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Why Some Clients Need Residential Treatment

Seattle Group Room

Eating disorders occur at different levels of severity, which is why we offer multiple levels of client care, from outpatient to residential. Whenever possible, our goal is to minimize the disruption to a client’s day-to-day life. However, when an eating disorder presents as a crisis, more intensive care becomes necessary so harmful behavior patterns can be interrupted as soon as possible. Some examples of eating disorder related crises include:

  • Medical instability
  • Inability to control one’s own behaviors
  • Extreme changes in BMI to the degree that physical health may be at imminent risk

 In each of these situations, residential care is most often recommended. In residential care, medical safety for at-risk clients can be maintained because of the presence of 24/7 nursing and medical providers. Residential care exists so that clients who are medically unstable or unable to improve in other care levels can avoid hospitalization, which is a far more restrictive experience. Residential care is not forced care and it is not designed to limit freedom. It is designed to provide safety, rapid results, and to prepare clients for long-term recovery.

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