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By Kate Fisch, LCSW

Because we stereotype individuals suffering with an eating disorder as teenage girls, adolescent boys with eating disorders often go overlooked.  This is further exacerbated by the fact that eating disorder commonly manifest differently in boys than they do in girls.  Typically, eating disordered girls describe an obsession with being thin and an irrational fear of gaining weight.  Indeed, eating disordered boys can also have similar focus but often their eating disordered goals are to increase muscle and achieve a more “chiseled” physique. This is sometimes referred to as “reverse anorexia” or “bigorexia.”  A physical “façade” reinforced by our sociocultural messages of masculinity.

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By Lauren Harding, Recovery Coach

Eating disorders are difficult to understand, difficult to treat, and as a parent of a child who is struggling with an eating disorder, difficult to live with. Parents often express that something seems to take over their child when they are struggling, or that they only occasionally see the child they used to know. They catch glimpses of laughter, joy, and normalcy which often gets taken over by anger, fear, and stress- especially in situations involving food.

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By Stephanie Mowery, LCSW

Motivation is the guiding force or reasons behind an intentional change. When it comes to dealing with an eating disorder, a lot of motivation is necessary to overcome the pervasive and ingrained negative thought patterns and behaviors. However, there is a big difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and knowing the source of our motivation can help move us forward in recovery.

Extrinsic motivation is any pressure to change that comes from outside of our person. Extrinsic motivators can be positive, such as a tangible reward, or negative, such as uncomfortable consequences if we do not change.

Intrinsic motivation is an internal desire for change based on our belief that said change is what is right for us. Intrinsic motivation means that we want to change because we feel the change itself is worth it, and is inherently fulfilling regardless of outside benefits or consequences.

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By Lauren Harding, Eating Recovery Coach

The Facts

Dieting is linked to disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Research shows that girls who diet are seven to eight times more likely to develop an eating disorder compared to those who do not diet. Furthermore, cross-cultural studies reveal an increase in eating disorders with an increase of urbanization. In Fiji, before television, dieting did not exist and there were no eating disorders. After television was introduced, Fijian women were for the first-time dieting, reportedly, as a way to “gain status”. Within 3 years 11% of these women reported vomiting in order to lose weight. “Without our cultural preoccupation with dieting, there would be no epidemic of eating disorders” (Gordon, 2000). An estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend $33 billion each year on weight loss products. In 2017 the US dieting industry alone was worth $68.2 billion dollars. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans are classified as “obese”. With the increase of western civilization and dieting, there is also an increase of “obesity” and of eating disorders.

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By Stephanie Mowery, LCSW

Signs Your Child or Teen May Have an Eating Disorder: What to Look For

Many people think of eating disorders as a stereotypically teenage problem. The adolescent years are a time of change and growth, both physically and emotionally, which can make teens especially susceptible to developing eating disorders. However, many children begin to develop disordered eating patterns prior to their teenage years. If you have concerns about your child, here are some symptoms to look out for:

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By Lauren Harding, Eating Recovery Coach

The desire to lose weight is actually pretty normal due to the fact that we all live in a very weight focused and fatphobic society. The pressure to make our bodies look a certain way seems to have become our main purpose as humans. We are not born believing there is something wrong with our bodies, but overtime are conditioned to think that way.  Certain industries capitalize on these beliefs. We latch onto superficial cultural goals- like having a “good body”- to feel as though we have achieved something important. If we fail to achieve this ideal it tends to become more of a personal failure rather than a fault of the damaging message itself. These industries and messages promise us that once the “ideal body” is reached, that “everything will be better”.

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By Lauren Harding, Eating Recovery Coach

Mindful Movement

Exercise can be a difficult thing to navigate during eating disorder recovery. I often find that clients struggle to differentiate between whether they are truly exercising for enjoyment or if they are exercising with eating disorder motives. There are a few ways to first identify if you have a dysfunctional relationship with exercise, and several steps to take in order to find balance and make peace with it once more.

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By Kate Fisch, LCSW

Dear Fellow Parents,

If you’re anything like me, you may need a lighter perspective following the first week of our strange, new, COVID-19 reality.  So, hear you go:  Congratulations!  I mean it.  This past week was one of the most difficult, slow-moving, parenting experiences I’ve had so far.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore my children, I love spending time with them, but there is nothing like the task of facilitating e-learning with absolutely no option of escape to make you question your ability to be a quality parent.  And this of course is the best-case scenario, one in which you are not personally or directly affected by the actual illness.  So, here’s the thing to know, you are a great parent, and now, more than ever, I want to make sure you hear me when I say, we are all doing the very best that we can right now.  And, it is good enough!  Enough is the important word here, enough.  We do not have to be homeschooling super stars or master the art of cooking a week’s worth of kid-friendly meals from whatever you currently have in your pantry – we just have to be good enough.  Lower your expectations of yourself, settle into the moment, and give yourself a high-five if you can currently locate all of your children.

Here are a few more tips to help lower the bar:

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By Stephanie Mowery, LCSW

Eating disorders are a complex set of mental illnesses that can impact someone’s mood, thought processes, and physical health. Food restriction, binging, purging, and over-exercising are just a few of the signs that your loved one may have a problem. However, eating disorders are much more than the struggle you witness at the dinner table.

Most people with eating disorders are constantly fighting an internal battle over their food, their body, and their everyday choices. They can feel immense guilt and shame when they disregard disordered eating urges, but simultaneously feel miserable engaging in these patterns. While this internal dialogue is rarely obvious to others, it is ever-present. This makes it incredibly difficult to find the right words to show that you care. While it’s never your job to fix or save your loved one, knowing what words and phrases are most helpful will communicate your support and concern.

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