National Eating Disorders Association
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Understanding Eating Disorders

In the world of public health prevention, we have an idea called “strategic science.” Basically, the idea is that when we set out to design a new study, we ought to be thinking about how the study findings could be used by policymakers and communities to make change happen to benefit people – real people, like you or your children, your friends and neighbors, or the people in a neighborhood across town. It’s a simple idea, but it demands a pretty radical departure from the more typical way that study ideas get out of the gate.

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Looking back on when I first received treatment for my eating disorder as a teenager, my memory is riddled with thoughts of “I’m not sick enough” and "Is my struggle not as bad?”. I was unaware of the paradoxical twist of worries that I was not struggling enough, and therefore did not deserve help, even though I "followed the demands" of my eating disorder. I followed the eating disorder so much that I refused help for long stretches of time and deeply suffered during my many self-exiles.

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This blog post is sponsored and contributed by Veritas Collaborative.

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Editor's Note: CW - This post includes the mention of specific eating disorders thoughts/behaviors.

It was another fun Saturday night dinner with the guys. Everyone had paid their bills, and it was time for us to go our separate ways. Before taking off, I grabbed my friend Adam’s dinner receipt, and put it in my back pocket. 

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It was the summer of 1977. I had just graduated from college, summa cum laude with honors. I had gotten accepted to an Ivy League graduate program and decided to take a year off before enrolling. I had applied for an internship in Washington DC with my congresswoman and planned to spend the year in DC.  Unfortunately, the internship did not come through. With DC off the table, I did not really have a Plan B for my “gap” year. 

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This blog post is sponsored by Rogers Behavioral Health.

Being out in nature, enjoying the warmth of a greenhouse, and working with plants all have a positive effect on someone’s mood and can also reduce anxiety. Because of this, horticultural therapy has been a valuable component of care across a variety of treatment settings, and is an especially good fit in eating disorder recovery.

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1. People with atypical anorexia are a normal body size, or juuuuust over the weight limit for an anorexia diagnosis.

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I kissed the top of her head and walked toward the door.  I paused.  I knew this was it.  I turned around to look at her and try to memorize her image, an image I barely recognized due to her physical state.   

“I’ll see you later,” I said. “I will.”

Katie smiled a forced smile and nodded.  She knew what I meant.

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It’s not that it’s going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it. You can do it. Keep your head up. Keep pushing. Don’t give up. You’re worth it. Those are just some of the positive affirmations I would write all over my papers from treatment daily. 

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It is important to have awareness of disordered eating behaviors (including dieting) because they can be precursors to eating disorders. Disordered eating may include (and is not limited to) a rigid food and exercise regime; feelings of guilt or shame when unable to maintain said regime; a preoccupation with food, body, and exercise that has an impact on quality of life; compulsive eating; compensatory measures to ‘make up for’ food consumed (i.e.:  excessive exercise, food restriction, fasting, purging, and laxative or diuretic use); and weight loss supplement use.

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