National Eating Disorders Association
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Understanding Eating Disorders

Yes, eating disorder treatment involves all the wonderful things that are delicately spelled out in pastel pamphlets. Yes, there can be yoga mats and Rumi and more gentle nodding than the normal neck could take. 

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One of the most common questions I’ve received as both a clinician and an eating disorder survivor is how to know whether someone truly has an eating disorder. In this day and age, when food fads and diets come and go quickly and people so regularly, casually discuss the manner in which they “eat their feelings” as a means of coping, it can be hard to discern when one’s eating practices morph from disordered eating into an eating disorder.

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Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common, but least understood, eating disorder in the United States. Intuitive eating and Health at Every Size® may be helpful tools for those in recovery, but public understanding of these concepts is limited. 

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This blog post was sponsored by Monte Nido (Clementine).

I can recall first wanting to become a physician when my mother would take me to the pediatrician’s office when I was feeling sick as a child. Oftentimes, my doctor would sit next to me and calmly explain what he felt was going on and all the options for treatment that were available. 

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There is nothing quite like the sound of a cracking twig under a boot. Perhaps, a close second is the breeze in the canopy above, feeling the forest all around. Though, the best feeling of all, for me, is the sun on my face after embarking on a fun and joyful adventure.

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I was first diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when I was 12 years old. It was 1996, and I had never heard of the term in my life, as eating disorders were not discussed anywhere near as often as they are now, and it was before the explosion of the internet, social media, etc. When the doctor told me I had anorexia, I had to ask what it was – I thought it was cancer or something!

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While autistic self-advocates have created significant change, stigma and misinformation around autism and eating disorders still exist. With that in mind, the National Eating Disorders Association hosted an Autism Acceptance Month #NEDAchat, which explored common misconceptions about autism, barriers to treatment for eating disorders, and how those in the field can best serve those in the autistic community. 

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Our family has a son with an eating disorder. He’s had it since the age of three, and his condition has not really changed. We found out by accident that he had a food allergy to peanuts (and tree nuts), which happened even earlier than the eating disorder. Certainly, having a food allergy makes the cautiousness around foods - especially "new foods" - even more present. 

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Many people don’t realize that living as a disabled person can be especially difficult, not because of the disability itself, but because abled individuals discriminate against us. Although I often like to forget I have cerebral palsy and live life like any other person, abled people have tried to place limitations on me due to my disability.

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Substance abuse problems may begin before or during an eating disorder, or even after recovery. Those struggling with co-occurring substance use and disordered eating should speak with a trained professional who can understand, diagnose, and treat both substance use disorders and eating disorders.

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