Posts Tagged ‘national eating disorder awareness week’

How to Eat a Meal with Someone Struggling with an Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder Awareness- How to eat a meal with someone struggling with an eating disorder

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and am not trained in eating disorder treatment or prevention. I struggled with disordered eating/eating disorders for 12 years and I am now in recovery. My purpose behind writing these posts is to start the conversation about eating disorders, sildenafil which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, and to hopefully give some clarity and understanding about these complicated and dangerous diseases. I also want to give hope that recovery is possible!
Trigger warnings: In all of my posts about eating disorders, I try to be very sensitive and avoid triggering language. However, the reality is that I am talking about eating disorder thoughts and behaviors and recognize that these posts could trigger people struggling with EDs. If you think that these posts could be the least bit triggering for you, please do not read them. The last thing I want to do is to set anyone back in their recovery process.

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So your daughter, son, friend, roommate, wife, husband, sister, brother is struggling with an eating disorder. You feel helpless and don’t know how to talk to them or help them. And then comes the tension of meal times. Are they eating? How are they eating? Do they look distressed? What do I say? I can’t stop staring at them…

Let’s just get this out in the open—eating meals with a loved ones who is struggling with an ED can be very tense, stressful, and painful for everyone. Here are some tips to make these meal times better for everyone. Many of these things I learned while eating meals together with other girls in treatment—we had to seriously support each other through those meal times, but we all managed to get through each and every one of them. This advice is based on my own personal experience- I am not a psychologist and this advice may not right for everyone. I think most of my tips are probably applicable and helpful for most people with an ED, but EDs are so unique and different so don’t use this list as an excuse for not having a conversation with your loved one about what they would specifically find helpful.

Helpful Tips:

  • DO NOT talk about eating disorders at the dinner table. EVER. Don’t talk to your loved one about their eating disorder, about someone else’s eating disorder, or EDs in general. Don’t mention any ED behaviors, don’t talk about body image, low self esteem, or weight. Your loved one is being SCREAMED AT by their ED throughout their entire meal and they need you to help them get their mind off of their ED, not on it.
  • DO NOT talk about the food you’re eating. Typically when people are eating food, they’ll comment on what they’re eating, they’ll talk about other food they’ve eaten in the past, etc. Don’t do it. I would suggest not even saying whether you like the meal or not. Just don’t talk about it at all. Do not talk about calories, fat, nutrition value, portion size, your new diet, or anything related to food! Your loved one is analyzing everything about the food they’re eating and they don’t need you to add to the conversation happening in their head.
  • DO NOT talk about exercising or working out, going to the gym, participating in sports, burning calories, your new exercise regiment, your muscles, or anything having to do with your body.
  • DO NOT talk about any controversial or stressful topics. Don’t get into arguments with other family members. Don’t talk about politics or religion. Anything that might make the conversation get at all heated has to be off limits. Trying to get through a meal is hard enough for your loved one—don’t add additional stress and tension to the situation with your topics of conversation.
  • DO NOT stare at your loved one. They already feel self-conscious and know that you’re keeping your eye on them. Try not to stare—it will just make them feel more self-conscious.
  • DO have continuous conversation throughout the meal. Think of light but interesting conversation topics and keep conversation going throughout the meal, trying to bring your loved on into the conversation. During our meals in treatment, we talked throughout the entire meal and if we could see that one person was having an especially hard time, we would intentionally try to bring them into the conversation, asking them specific questions to help involve them. This helps keep your loved one’s mind off of the food they’re eating.
  • DO model good eating behavior. One thing that we talk about in treatment is the idea of matching the meals eaten by the healthy people around us. If you are not eating a healthy-sized, balanced meal, how can you expect your loved one to do so? I remember one girl in treatment sharing that she had a really hard time eating carbs, especially bread. Her mom would never eat bread during meals and this made it that much harder for the daughter to convince herself to eat bread. Then at one meal, her mom ate a piece of bread along with dinner. What didn’t mean much to the mom was incredibly significant for the daughter and helped her make good food choices for herself and eat bread with more ease. I know that sometimes dinner rolls around and you’re not that hungry, or you don’t like the food, or you’re on a new diet. However, you have the responsibility to model good eating behavior, meaning that you need to eat a full, healthy sized meal when you’re eating with your loved one. Yeah, I know it’s not fair, but eating disorders aren’t fair to anyone. Your loved one is watching you and noticing all the food you eat constantly, so make sure that you are modeling good eating habits and behavior.
  • DO NOT get frustrated if/when your loved one is having a hard time. I can’t tell you how many times I cried during meals in treatment. Meals are harder than you could ever imagine—they are intense, anxiety-producing experiences. Most likely, you cannot understand why these times are so emotionally charged, and that can be frustrating. However, if you do things like roll your eyes or say things like, “just eat, it’s not a big deal!” or “you’re being silly/stupid,” you are being incredibly unhelpful. You need to be loving, supportive, and try to understand what it happening with your loved one. Sometimes it’s best to just sit quietly with your loved one, not saying anything but showing your support with your presence. Sometimes it might be helpful for you to ask your loved one what they’re feeling, and then listen without judgment or input as they share.
  • DO have important conversations about meal times BEFORE meal times occur. For example, ask your loved one what would make meals easier for them. Make a game plan with them and their psychologist about how you’re going to handle meal times. If you’re having dinner with people who maybe aren’t as informed about good meal behavior, have a conversation with them before the meal and if things start getting into rocky territory during the meal, steer things in the right direction. If you have set expectations for the meal time–what will be eaten, what sorts of conversations you’re going to have, how you are going to support your loved one, you can at least ensure that everyone is one the same page and in the moment disagreements or misunderstandings are less likely to occur.

I hope these tips are helpful. Feel free to ask any questions/clarification points you may have in the comments below :)

If you want to learn more about eating disorders, click here to read more of the posts I’ve written on the topic.

Things you say that contribute to eating disorder culture

Don’t be like grumpy cat. Think about the language you use and how it could be hurting you or those around you.
Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and am not trained in eating disorder treatment or prevention. I struggled with disordered eating/eating disorders for 12 years and I am now in recovery. My purpose behind writing these posts is to start the conversation about eating disorders, this which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, visit this share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, erectile and to hopefully give some clarity and understanding about these complicated and dangerous diseases. I also want to give hope that recovery is possible!
Trigger warnings: In all of my posts about eating disorders, I try to be very sensitive and avoid triggering language. However, the reality is that I am talking about eating disorder thoughts and behaviors and recognize that these posts could trigger people struggling with EDs. If you think that these posts could be the least bit triggering for you, please do not read them. The last thing I want to do is to set anyone back in their recovery process.

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I hear things on a daily basis that contribute to eating disorder culture and it makes me really sad, but I also know that because eating disorder language is so embedded in our culture, a lot of the time people say things without realizing that what they’re saying is hugely problematic and potentially harmful. This is a short list of some commonly said things that I wish everyone would stop saying:

  • Saying things like, “I’ve been so good today!” or “I’m being so bad!” when referring to eating healthy/unhealthy foods or working out/not working out. Language like this ties your self worth to the food you eat and the workouts you do. It is super common for people with eating disorders to think that they are bad when they eat or eat particular foods and that they are good when they use ED behaviors such as restricting, purging, exercising, etc. Your language confirms what people with eating disorders already think about themselves and it also sets you up to have dangerous disordered thoughts.
  • Constantly talking about/posting to social media how many calories you’ve burned, sizes you’ve dropped, weight you’ve lost, inches you’ve reduced, workouts you’ve completed. I get that it’s exciting when you meet fitness goals and you want to share. But when you share your victories, you could be severely triggering others. Additionally, your constant focus on numbers could turn your diet/quest for health or fitness into dangerous disordered thought and behavior patterns. Note: many eating disorders start with diets.
  • Talking about how many calories are in the food you’re eating or commenting on what other people choose to eat. I have two stories to illustrate this point:—A few weeks ago I was in the dining hall, waiting in line to get dinner. I was standing near a milkshake machine and these two girls walked up to it. One girl said, “I’ve never had one of these! I’m going to get one!” and I could tell she was looking forward to it. Her friend said, “Ok, but since I’m your friend I feel like I have to tell you–those things have like 700 calories.” And you know what? The girl walked out of the dining hall without her milkshake.—One of the amazing girls I met in treatment ended treatment the same day I did–we were both leaving to start our freshmen years of college. We would occasionally call each other that first semester of freshmen year to encourage each other or to get support if we were having a hard time. My friend struggled with anorexia and she needed to restore weight. One day she was in the dining hall, eating her meal, when a guy, who she didn’t know, came up to her and said, “Wow, you eat a lot.”—What good does your commenting on the caloric content/nutrition value/portion size of another person’s meal do? You have no idea what the person you’re talking with is battling. When you stop commenting on the food you or others are eating, you avoid potentially triggering others and causing them massive setbacks, and you also free yourself from having to obsess about the food you yourself consume.
  • Justifying the food you’re eating by saying things like, “I can eat this because I worked out earlier.” You should not have to justify the food you chose to eat or feel judged because of what you’re eating.
  • Saying things like: “You look so great!” or “Have you lost weight? You look amazing!” I know the intention behind comments like this is to be encouraging. However, when you comment on someone’s outer appearance, you’re confirming that people care about and are paying attention to that person’s body/weight/appearance. At one point, my eating disorder caused me to lose a lot of weight and so many people told me that I looked awesome. I wonder if they would have told me how great I looked if they knew that I had an eating disorder and that, after a while, my body started shutting down because of the lack of food. And then when I started restoring some weight and improving my physical health, people who knew that I was struggling with an eating disorder continued to comment on how good I looked. Wait, so why is that bad? You would think that this would have been encouraging, right? The reality is that, for me, it just communicated that every time my close family members and friends saw me, they were analyzing my body. I do think that for some people who are restoring weight, it can be encouraging to hear things like, “You look healthy,” and “You’re beautiful,” and I don’t think it’s bad to occasionally say things like, “You’re pretty” or “You look good!” to anyone in your life, but I do think we need to 1. Cut back on all compliments that focus on outer appearance, 2. Seriously cut back on compliments concerning weight-loss or body size, 3. Drastically increase the encouragements we give people that have to do with their inner selves and their core identities rather than outer appearance.
  • Making idiotic jokes like these below. I can’t tell you how many people told me these exact jokes or ones very similar while I was struggling with anorexia and binge eating disorder. If you think these jokes are funny or have ever said jokes along these lines, you need to realize that you are fueling eating disorder culture by trivializing diseases that destroy lives. And in anticipation to what many of you are thinking: Yes, I do realize that I may take this “too seriously” and might need to “lighten up.” But my eating disorder took years of my life that I will never get back and I’m one of the lucky ones–I am alive and in recovery (Praise the Lord). In my opinion, the deadliest psychological disorder cannot be taken too seriously.

Note: I understand that Kat Dennings is probably trying to be funny/promote healthy body image. However, she is trivializing anorexia by suggesting that it’s something people choose. While there are some pro-ana communities that promote anorexia as a valid lifestyle choice, the vast majority of people with anorexia never set out to be anorexic–the deadly disease infiltrated their body and mind. Her statement would be just as ridiculous if she said, “I tried cancer once and then I was like, nope not for me.” Her statement makes it seem that anyone with anorexia is choosing to be that way and that they could stop anytime they wanted to just by eating a bagel.

This clip below is from an episode of Shake it Up, a Disney Channel show. Demi Lovato, who has struggled with an eating disorder for quite a while, saw this episode and tweeted that she thought the joke was absolutely terrible and inappropriate. Disney did decide to pull the episode in respond to Lovato’s criticism. However, this episode shouldn’t have had to be pulled because this joke should NEVER have been in there in the first place. Absolutely disgusting.

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My purpose in writing this post is not to condemn anyone or make anyone feel bad, rather my goal is to bring awareness to how we can all help and love each other and ourselves better. I encourage you to be careful about the language you use and the things you do. Our words have immense power (Proverbs 12:18Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 16:24, John 1:1, John 8:31-32, Revelation 12:11). The reality is that people struggling with eating disorders, low self esteem, and disordered eating quite often look completely normal. You cannot know what the people around you are struggling with, so please think about the things you do and say that might be triggering and that fuel eating disorder culture. Making these changes could have such positive effects not only on your siblings, friends, roommates, children, and other loved ones, but they could help you positively change your inner thought life and help you love yourself more and treat yourself better.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle  ~Unknown

To learn more about eating disorders, click here to read more posts I’ve written on the topic.

What an eating disorder sounds like—The life in the mind of an addict

eating disorder awareness- what an eating disordre sounds like-the life in the mind of an addict

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and am not trained in eating disorder treatment or prevention. I struggled with disordered eating/eating disorders for 12 years and I am now in recovery. My purpose behind writing these posts is to start the conversation about eating disorders, malady which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, thumb  share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, viagra sale and to hopefully give some clarity and understanding about these complicated and dangerous diseases. I also want to give hope that recovery is possible!
Trigger warnings: In all of my posts about eating disorders, I try to be very sensitive and avoid triggering language. However, the reality is that I am talking about eating disorder thoughts and behaviors and recognize that these posts could trigger people struggling with EDs. If you think that these posts could be the least bit triggering for you, please do not read them. The last thing I want to do is to set anyone back in their recovery process.

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Through my recovery process from my eating disorder, I’ve really come to understand how hard my eating disorder was for my friends and family. I go back and read journal entries from when I was sickest in my ED and I do not recognize myself. I read words and am so sad for the person who wrote them. Writing out the words of this post is sad–facing the reality that I wasn’t living out a full and joyous life in the Lord for so many years is hard. But God is a God who redeems all things–our testimonies have the power to release others from darkness.

I can’t imagine how hard and confusing it is for people who have loved ones with EDs to understand what is going on. I know that I said and did things that were really hurtful to people I loved and I made it really hard for people to be around me. I know that it’s hard to continue being persistent in the way you love, support, and show up for the person in your life struggling with an ED. My purpose behind writing this post is to give you a small glimpse of what it’s like to live with an eating disorder. And even the words I’ve typed in this post are insufficient to explain the burden you carry when you have an eating disorder–it’s painful every moment of every day and it’s with you every moment of every day. I hope that this post will help you understand your loved one who is struggling and help you give them more grace and love.

I also hope it will also encourage you. This post describes my past, but praise the Lord it does not describe my present and will not describe my future! The Lord is so faithful. Recovery is possible. But I’m letting you know now- it’s not going to be an easy road and it’s not going to be a short road. Be gentle on yourself as you try to love someone in your life who right now is probably not very easy to love. But also be unrelenting in the way that you pursue them, love them, support them, forgive them, and pray for them. 

Here it goes.

I’m sitting with my friend at a worship night. The pastor is giving a powerful message about God lifting away past baggage, hurts, and pains and bringing healing. All I can think about is the fact that my friend and I are going to Sonic after this.

Am I going to get anything to eat? A milkshake? A milkshake and a burger? Burger and fries? Milkshake and fries? How many calories in a milkshake? How much have I eaten today? I didn’t really have dinner but I don’t know about the milkshake. What about just a burger? What do I weigh? Have I gained weight lately? Does my workout cancel out enough milkshake calories? What is the pastor talking about? Burdens? Sounds about right. Maybe fries and the milkshake will be the best combination. What is my friend going to eat?

This was not a one-time occasion. This was my life.

Every day I would go to school. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Talk with friends. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Go to church. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Spend time with my family. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Do homework. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Watch TV. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Shoot a photo session. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Bake. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Workout. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

Spend time with God. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

At night I would lie in bed, unable to sleep for hours. Every bite of food I had eaten that day would haunt me. I would pinch the fat on my body, stare at it in the mirror. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

The panic would build. It’s 2am. Just do 100 crunches. Then 100 more. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

The irrationality of it all is astounding, but it all seems rational in the moment…I have saran wrap in my room from a project I was working on. I should saran wrap my stomach…that will make me feel better. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

It’s 3am. Let’s write out a list of all the food I ate today and how many calories it was. Then I’ll cut it in half and that’s what I’ll eat tomorrow. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

I walk around feeling so empty. It’s late at night and I’m in the kitchen. I start eating. In my mind I’m screaming, “I’m not hungry! I don’t want this food!” But I can’t stop. I’m powerless. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

I go to bed feeling ashamed. How much do I weigh? I need to be better tomorrow. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

God, take this from me. I don’t want to live this way anymore. No! Don’t let anyone take this from you! You have to be in control! You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

I sit in my classroom through lunch. I’ve already finished the half of a sandwich I packed so I sit at the computer and bookmark another twenty recipes I want to make. I want food. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

This is not a life worth living. I have an eating disorder and need help. You’re wrong. You’re way too fat to have an eating disorder. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

I got an A on my exam. Good job, you’ve avoided embarrassing yourself this time. But next time you’ll probably fail because you’re a failure. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

I hear mean, rude, hurtful words coming out of my mouth. I see my relationships with my friends and family members disintegrate in front of me. But I’m powerless to stop it. You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

“Oh, how He loves us, oh how He loves us, how He loves us.” But God doesn’t really love you. How could He love a worthless piece of crap like you? You’re fat, you’re worthless, you’re stupid, no one loves you.

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In recovery, getting rid of eating disorder behaviors is hard, but even that is easy compared to getting rid of the thoughts. It’s the thoughts that plague you ever single day. You may look like you have it together on the outside but on the inside you’re fighting a war.

Psychological disorders are hard and messy and confusing. I encourage you if you have a loved one struggling with an ED, don’t assume that you know what they’re going through. Ask them questions, even if it’s hard. Read memoirs about people struggling with EDs and ask them how their experience relates to that of the book authors. Use this post to start a conversation. Keep showing up in their life–their ED tells them that they aren’t loved, aren’t worth anyone’s time or attention- don’t let their ED win. And please, please, please, help them seek proper treatment. And please, please, please, never stop praying for them, for a total defeat of the Enemy.

Need to read something encouraging after this post? Here is my post where I talk about my recovery from my eating disorder.

Want to learn more about eating disorders? Click here to read other posts I’ve written on the topic.

Eating Disorder Vocabulary and Resources

eating disorder awareness-eating disorder vocabulary and resources

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and am not trained in eating disorder treatment or prevention. I struggled with disordered eating/eating disorders for 12 years and I am now in recovery. My purpose behind writing these posts is to start the conversation about eating disorders, hygiene which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, capsule  share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, more info and to hopefully give some clarity and understanding about these complicated and dangerous diseases. I also want to give hope that recovery is possible!
Trigger warnings: In all of my posts about eating disorders, I try to be very sensitive and avoid triggering language. However, the reality is that I am talking about eating disorder thoughts and behaviors and recognize that these posts could trigger people struggling with EDs. If you think that these posts could be the least bit triggering for you, please do not read them. The last thing I want to do is to set anyone back in their recovery process.

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Welcome to National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2014! I have decided to write a series of blog posts about eating disorders to be published throughout this week. As someone who is in recovery from a long-time struggle with an eating disorder, this is an issue I am passionate about and have quite a bit of experience with. God has brought such amazing healing and restoration in my life and I want to use my life and my struggle to help others.

To kick off this week is this post about eating disorder vocabulary. A lot of the vocab words pertaining to eating disorders are frequently used in daily conversation, but our understanding of what these words mean is often incomplete or incorrect. Additionally, there are some terms used in treatment that are not well-known outside of treatment context that I think are useful for people to know. I hope this post is informative and helps you better understand my subsequent posts.

-Eating Disorder- eating disorders are  psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits as well as distorted thoughts and low self esteem. In my writing, I will often shorten the phrase eating disorder to ED and some people with EDs call their eating disorder “Ed.”

-Disordered Eating- If someone struggles with disordered eating or disordered thoughts, it means that they’re dealing with some of the same behaviors and thought patterns as people with EDs do, but not at a high enough intensity to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. I think having a solid understanding of disordered eating vs. eating disorder is crucial. First of all, in our society a lot of disordered eating is seen as “normal.” It’s “normal” for people to binge every once in a while, to skip meals, to obsessively weight themselves, count calories, and diet, exercise compulsively, purge, have low self esteem, etc. The normalization of this disordered behavior can give the idea that people with eating disorders are just struggling with the same thing that everyone else struggles with and therefore there’s no reason for them to get treatment. I want to be very clear that disordered eating is very different from having a full-blow eating disorder and so we need to disassociate our idea of what eating disorders are from what we see of disordered eating. With that being said, we also need to start taking disordered eating much more seriously. Disordered eating and thoughts should never be seen as normal–someone who binges and purges a couple times a month would not meet the criteria for bulimia, however their behaviors are absolutely unhealthy and need intervention. Just because you don’t have a diagnosable eating disorder does not mean that you do not need support and therapy–disordered eating and thoughts are dangerous, can seriously interfere with your quality of life, and often will turn into full-blown EDs.

DSM- The DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and it is how all psychological disorders are diagnosed. There was just a new edition of the DSM released (DSM 5) that made some pretty significant changes eating disorder criteria. To read more about the changes to eating disorders in the DSM 5, click here.

-Anorexia Nervosa- Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by restriction of food intake leading to severe weight loss, as well as distorted body image and a fear of becoming fat. Note: In previous DSM there was a criteria for anorexia called amenorrhea, which means the absence of at least 3 menstrual cycles. It is pretty common for girls with anorexia to stop having their period, but the criteria was removed because it didn’t fit pre-menarchal or post-menopausal females, males, and females taking birth control. Additionally, there are some girls who still have periods while exhibiting all other symptoms of anorexia.

-Bulimia Nervosa- Bulimia is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by purging behaviors (such as vomiting) to avoid weight gain. Note: the DSM 5 reduced the frequency of binge-purge behaviors people must exhibit in order to be diagnosed from twice a week to once a week.

-Binge Eating Disorder- this is a new eating disorder in the DSM 5. It is defined as “recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry. The person may have feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or disgust and may binge eat alone to hide the behavior. This disorder is associated with marked distress and occurs, on average, at least once a week over three months.” I am very happy about the inclusion of this disorder in the DSM 5 because it helps validate those who struggle with binge eating and also make clear that binge eating is very different from overeating–it is “much less common, far more severe, and is associated with significant physical and psychological problems.”

-OSFED/EDNOS- OSFED stands for Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder and is the new DSM-5 name for what was formerly EDNOS, which stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. This is a feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress and impairment, but does not fit into another eating disorder category. EDNOS (now OSFED) seems to carry a stigma that it’s not as serious as bulimia or anorexia, but that is absolutely not true. It is just as serious as any ED, the diagnosis just means that your eating behaviors don’t perfectly meet the exact DSM criteria.

-Restrict- to restrict means to limit food intake. This could be stopping food intake completely or just limiting intake.

-Binge- people often talk about binging casually, as though it’s not something serious or if it just means that you’ve eaten too much. Binging is a compulsion to eat that you literally cannot control. It’s a need to fill a void with food that you cannot reason yourself out of. In my own personal experience, binging is really scary and, in most if not all cases, binging causes an incredible amount of guilt and self-loathing.

-Purge- most people think of purging as throwing up food and that is one form of purging. You can purge through vomiting, abusing laxatives, or by compulsively exercising. These are all considered types of purging.

-Behavior- Behaviors are any eating disorder behaviors/actions. These are any disordered ways of dealing with food as well as behaviors such as restricting, binging, purging, exercising compulsively, body checking, etc.

-Trigger- triggers are images/comments/situations that cause eating disorder thoughts and/or behaviors. Examples of triggers: A trigger could be being around someone talking about their weight loss, the number of calories they eat daily, or about how much they hate their body. Triggers are also images, especially images with models or people who are perceived to have “perfect bodies.” Additionally songs, movies, and other media that promote the idea of a “perfect body” or feature someone engaging in disordered behaviors can also be triggering. It is important to be aware of what can be triggering for those around you so you can attempt to avoid language/situations, etc. that could be triggering for others. For example, I typically speak about my eating disorder in vague terms, never saying specifics such as what exact behaviors I struggled with, how much weight I actually lost/gained, etc. in order to avoid triggering others. Another thing that can be a trigger is talking about eating disorders. I have to be careful with how often I speak about my ED struggle and even in the process of writing all the posts for this National Eating Disorder Awareness week I had to be very careful to not write too much at once and monitor how I was doing and feeling as I wrote these posts.

-Fear food- A fear food is a food that provokes intense anxiety when you think about eating it or you have to eat it. Fear foods can be any type of food and often times the person with the ED knows that the fear is completely irrational but that fact typically isn’t strong enough to combat the ED anxiety.

-Exchanges- In the treatment program I was in we used a system of exchanges to track food intake but I don’t know if this is a common method used in other treatment programs. The concept behind exchanges is to give people a way of tracking what they’re eating and seeing if they’re eating a healthy amount and wide variety of foods without ever having to count calories. The categories for the exchanges are proteins, starches, fruits, vegetables, dairy proteins, and fats. Everyone would have a certain number of exchanges (sort of counted like servings) to meet in each category every day. For example, one fruit exchange could be an apple and one protein exchange could be one ounce of chicken.

-Compulsive exercising- One thing that’s hard is that in our society we are always talking about the importance of working out and being active, and these things are important. But we have this idea that you can never exercise too much and that exercising is always healthy, which just isn’t true. Some people with eating disorders engage in compulsive exercising where they work out excessively in order to compensate for food intake. The tricky part: how do you define what excessively working out it? It’s a tough question which makes this a tricky behavior. One guideline that I was given in treatment was that if the idea of skipping a workout or not exercising makes you feel anxious and uncomfortable, there’s a good chance that you are exercising compulsively. Some people who have struggled with eating disorders and are now in recovery can never do cardio exercise ever again because it would not be healthy for them psychologically.

-Completing- completing means to finish eating a meal in totality.

-Restoring- restoring refers to re-gaining lost weight.

-Eating Rituals- these refer to compulsive and obsessive behaviors surrounding eating. Rituals have to do with how the person with the eating disorder prepares and eats their food. These can include things such as weighing food, using certain bowls/plates/utensils, cutting food into small pieces, eating food in a certain order, etc. Eating rituals can also include eating abnormal combinations of food (such as eating cereal with orange juice instead of milk). Eating rituals help the person with the ED reduce the anxiety that often comes with eating food.

So there you go! Feel free to reach out to my with any questions you have about this post or eating disorders in general. I hope this post is helpful in understanding the rest of the posts that will be published during this week!

Jesus I pray against eating disorders! I pray for complete freedom for everyone struggling, especially if there are people reading this post who are held in the oppressive chains of eating disorders. I pray complete freedom, complete healing, and fullness of joy! May the peace of your Holy Spirit overtake our lives and wash over us daily. Amen.

NEDA (National Eating Disorder Awareness) has a lot of resources on their website to bring awareness about eating disorders and also support to those who are struggling. One resource I found on their site is a screening test for eating disorders. This could be a good resource for those of you who are maybe struggling with some of the things talked about in this post. The purpose of the confidential screening is to see if there might be time to seek professional help. Click here to access the screening.

NEDA also has these infographics they’ve created specifically for this coming week. Check them out!

To read other posts about eating disorders, CLICK HERE.