Cassey: Do you think that some girls today are using EDs as a way to “glamorize” their lack of control over their bodies? Back when I was in middle school and high school, I remember girls “bragging” about being depressed and how they had to take Prozac. I really didn’t understand why, but I think it was an attention thing. Do most people want to hide their EDs or “show it off”?
Shannon: Most individuals with an eating disorder will hide it rather than flaunt it. They might flaunt how thin they are, but they wouldn’t flaunt the eating disorder. Admitting that you have ED means subjecting yourself to peoples’ advice on what to do about it, nagging to get treatment, etc. It’s kind of like smoking, everyone wants to tell you to stop doing it because you’re slowly killing yourself but they have no idea what to actually do about it.
Mary: It is important to remember that an eating disorder is not a lifestyle choice; it is a serious mental illness. The victim has a distorted view of herself and the world. Unfortunately, there is a sense of competitiveness inherent in eating disorders that need to be addressed. But eating disorders really have nothing to do with food and exercise; eating disorders are all about feelings.
Cassey: How do you help someone overcome an ED or BID?
Shannon: I always say that the best support you can give someone if your full, unconditional love and acceptance. These people, usually women, want to be validated. They want love, attention, and affection. They want to feel like they belong, like they’re being noticed and heard, and like they’re worth something. Showing them how much you truly care is the best thing you can do to inspire them in recovery. If I could, I would suggest working from a holistic, mind-body-spirit approach. Eating disorders aren’t solved by a nutritionist and not always even with a therapist. They’re healed through an understanding of what triggered the individual, learning self-love and self-respect, bolstering self-esteem, and addressing every aspect of the individual, from the inside out.
Mary: Everyone with an ED must be in mental health therapy with a psychiatrist and a licensed clinical social worker. As a registered dietitian who works with aberrant eating patterns and eating disorders, I am able to challenge the client’s mental distortions, address body image concerns, decode “fat feelings,” and evaluate the need for psychotherapy. I do not work with rigid meal plans, low calorie diets, or avoiding particular foods. Instead, I help people learn to live with food again by using their body signals of hunger and fullness to lead them to a flexible balanced diet. In my online practice, I do not work with full-blown eating disorders unless I have regular contact with the client’s therapist and I am, ideally, part of a multidisciplinary team.
Cassey: Lately, I’ve been called out for “triggering” some of my readers’ ED/BID tendencies. It’s bikini season so I’ve been talking extra about weight loss and dieting. Some have said that I may have an ED or BID myself and that I should have my posts looked over by a psychologist to analyze the potential messages I am sending out. So, I’m asking you if you could read this post and pick it apart. What do you see?
Shannon: I see an article that looks just like any other article on a blog or in a magazine. Sure, it’s focused on weight-loss because that’s what sells. I notice that you refer a lot to clean eating and exercise, which is wonderful. You didn’t once tell anyone that they NEED to be thin. I’ve noticed that some people have a tendency to go over the top with such articles. They assume that any picture of a thin person or article about weight-loss is contributing to the rapid increase in eating disorders. It may be a factor, but it’s not the only factor. In fact, family relationships have a lot more of an effect on body image than a magazine does.
Also, in your comment section, a woman named “Sarah” wrote a positive comment about Miley Cyrus and your blog while also mentioning that she had had an eating disorder. I’ve found that people who attack posts about thinness the most are people who have an unhealthy relationship with their own body. They project their feelings onto an article, an image, or a writer because it is easier than facing their own insecurities (and I say that totally without judgment as I’ve done the same thing myself before!)
Mary: Working out has a point of diminishing returns. The average person should do enough exercise to stay fit and healthy, say 60 minutes 5 times a week. After that, the benefits of exercise do not increase in relation to the time spent. But Miley Cyrus has millions of dollars resting on it, and even Cassey Ho, who is in the business, has a different motivation. Americans like their celebrities to be skinny, and so celebrities exercise a lot. It doesn’t make it right, but at least there is a reason for it. I wouldn’t use Miley Cyrus, or any celebrity, as a role model for responsible adult behavior. Let’s face it: it’s always better to value people for their inner qualities and not for their appearance, and it is silly to support cultural norms that glorify thinness above health. For the average person, it doesn’t make sense to devote so much time to chasing the “perfect body” when there are so many problems in the world. Also, don’t forget that the images you see have been Photoshopped.
Regarding “triggers” in our everyday world, I believe that it is up to the person who feels triggered to avoid potentially triggering experiences (e.g. don’t buy fashion magazines, don’t visit certain websites or watch certain TV shows, etc.) because other people cannot be expected to create a safe environment at all times. Ideally, a trigger will be a conversation starter. It is rich material to bring up in mental health therapy.
Thank you soooooo much Shannon and Mary for your insight and knowledge on this topic! I think we learned a lot today. Did you guys find it helpful?
If you guys have any more questions, please leave them in the comments below. I am sure Shannon and Mary will be happy to address your concerns. If you would like to reach out to them personally, here are their contacts:
Shannon Lagasse | www.BreakthroughtoBodyLove.com | Twitter: @fruitytwoshoes
Mary Hartley, RD | www.AskMaryRD.com | Twitter: @MaryHartleyRD
Until next time…have a fab weekend and get ready for your next workout challenge! I am currently editing it! Can’t wait for the video to go up tonight. Watch for it on my Blogilates YouTube Channel.