Symptom Mismanagement: Eating Disorders Awareness Part 2

Welcome back to the conversation!

If you are just joining the conversation make sure you check out article one of this three part series. February 21-27, 2022 is NEDAwareness Week (National Eating Disorders Awareness Week)- a full week dedicated to educating the public about the realities of eating disorders and providing hope, support, and visibility to individuals and families affected by them

As previously mentioned dieting is a risk factor for eating disorders and includes nutrition changes for symptom management such as Low-FODMAP elimination and general elimination diets.  Medical nutrition therapy can play a role in the treatment of disease but it can also play a role in disease development (i.e. eating disorders).  

This is why it is imperative that people making dietary changes do so under the care of their dream team.  

While dieting is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder it is not the only one. NEDA says,“the risk factors for all eating disorders involve a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural issues''.  Knowing your risk factors for developing an eating disorder allows you and your team to develop a strong prevention plan. 

Research shows that early detection and treatment aids in recovery from eating disorders.  Use the below abbreviated list adapted from NEDA to evaluate your personal risk factors, a more comprehensive list can be found here

BIOLOGICAL

  • Having a close relative with an eating disorder. 
  • Having a close relative with a mental health condition, including anxiety, depression, and addiction.
  • A history of dieting

PSYCHOLOGICAL

  • Perfectionism. Especially a type of perfectionism called self-oriented perfectionism, which involves setting unrealistically high expectations for yourself.
  • Body image dissatisfaction.
  • Personal history of anxiety.
  • Behavioral inflexibility. 

SOCIAL

  • Weight stigma, more to come on this tomorrow.
  • Being teased or bullied – especially about weight - is emerging as a risk factor in many eating disorders.
  • Loneliness and isolation. 
  • Trauma.

If you are one of the few who have made it to this point in life without ever trying a diet- CONGRATS! Your path is clear: assemble your team, evaluate your risk, proceed with caution. However, if you are one of the millions of Americans who have tried multiple diets (often starting in childhood), navigating dietary changes for symptom management may be a little trickier.  

Due to the thin ideal and cultural obsession with “healthy” eating traits of a specific eating disorder- Orthorexia may fly under the radar or even be praised as commitment to health. 

The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being”.  

Stop and consider the below signs and symptoms of orthorexia. If they resonate with you or you have concerns about a loved one- you are not alone. Reach out to a trained professional today The National Eating Disorder Helpline

 

WARNING SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF ORTHOREXIA

-National Eating Disorders Association

 

  • Compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels
  • An increase in concern about the health of ingredients
  • Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products)
  • An inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’
  • Unusual interest in the health of what others are eating
  • Spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events
  • Showing high levels of distress when ‘safe’ or ‘healthy’ foods aren’t available
  • Obsessive following of food and ‘healthy lifestyle’ blogs on Twitter and Instagram
  • Body image concerns may or may not be present

    Stay tuned for Part 3 of our Symptom Mismanagement: Eating Disorders Awareness series!

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