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Mary Dye, MPH, RD, CEDRD, LD/N oversees all nutrition across Oliver-Pyatt Centers as the Director of Nutrition Services. In this weeks blog, Mary offers her unique perspective on the relationships between dieting, disordered eating and eating disorders.

What are some signs you should be aware of that a strict diet is turning into an eating disorder?

Isolation & Secrecy:

If counting and measuring food, only eating in a certain way or at a certain time starts to take priority over relationships and social opportunities then we have a problem. Think of that friend who used to meet up for brunch. If she’s now suddenly not available or comes but “has already eaten” these could be warning signs. If you realize she doesn’t seem to eat with you anymore and is always full, these could be signs that her eating is so rigid it can only be done at home, likely alone.

Guilt & Obsession:

Strict diets and/or exercise regimens can require so much time, counting and focus they can feel like a part time job. When adhering to an exercise or meal plan replaces pleasurable activities and breaking the plan results in guilt, shame and anxiety, or requires compensatory behaviors there is a problem. It’s tricky because often in our culture we praise people’s devotion to dietary rules but it can be a fine line between an interest and an obsession.

Self-worth based on diet, exercise and/or weight:

Many people on diets like to talk about their diet, exercise and weight. When this becomes the basis of a person’s identity, it can be a sign of a larger issue.

Rapid weight loss & continued loss:

This may or may not occur. But if it does, consider it a warning sign. Losing over two pounds per week can resulting in negative health consequences. Often people start a diet with the goal of losing a few pounds, but once they get into the obsessive mindset and receive positive reinforcement for losing weight (which we do a lot in our culture) the diet can spiral into something more serious.

Pre-occupation with food:

If all your friend is talking about is food and living vicariously through your eating while she claims to be full: warning sign. She’s probably really hungry and is struggling to allow herself to eat the foods her body needs.

Use of food rituals:

These can vary but might include: taking tiny bites, not eating in public, breaking foods into little pieces, drinking loads of water before meals, eating only at exact times, using excessive calorie free condiments, etc. They usually have to do with extending the eating experience and filling up on low or no calories.

Compensation:

Statements like “I have to go for a run because I ate a brownie” can sound benign, but they can be a major red flag. If a person is having to compensate for their food with exercise, purging behaviors or forms of self punishment or if a person is reducing or altering their food intake and denying their hunger cues to compensate for missing a workout, these may be reasons to be concerned.

What is the difference between having an “eating disorder” and having “disordered eating?”?

There are specific criteria for the four diagnosed eating disorders in the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-V). While many people don’t meet the full criteria for a diagnosed eating disorder, many do have an unhealthy relationship with food and weight that may put them at risk both physically and emotionally. The difference has to do with the degree or frequency that a person is engaging in the disordered behaviors. A person with disordered eating would engage in the behaviors with less frequency or with a lower level of severity, yet are at risk of developing a full blown eating disorder in the future. Disordered eating is dangerous in itself, and many times goes undetected until it is a full blown eating disorder because the warning signs are less severe and the person is often highly functional in other areas of their life (this high functionality can be the case in eating disorders as well). Sadly, we live in a culture that promotes a degree of disordered eating, so many people feel uncomfortable addressing these warning signs and write them off as normal.

How has our focus on healthy eating (especially on Instagram and Facebook) contributing to eating disorders? Could they be eating disorders in disguise?

Social media certainly has intensified the pressure to “eat right” – whatever that happens to mean on a particular day. It can fuel the false idea that perfection is attainable. Since social media is accessible 24/7 – it can be visited when people are feeling most vulnerable and looking for a way to fix themselves by scrolling through photos and getting ideas on how to “self-improve”. As registered dietitian doing private food recalls for over 10 years, one thing I can say with certainty is that what people are actually eating and what they present themselves as eating, are often pretty different. I tell my clients all the time: comparisons get you no-where.

Strict regimens are fueled by reinforcement, and what better way to motivate than to get countless “likes” for a way of doing something. It can also intensify the guilt and shame that are experienced if the regimen is broken both for the person in the social media post (a sort of dual identity) and for the person viewing it (I’ll never be like her, I just ate dessert and don’t have time to go running). We also have loads of people giving nutrition and fitness advice on social media that don’t have backgrounds in these fields, so that can lead to a lot of confusion and misinformation.

I think the social media stars that have recently come forward and disclosed their eating disorders has been a wake-up call that some of what we see is an illness in disguise.

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

Posted in Nutrition

At Monte Nido & Affiliates, we save lives while providing the opportunity for people to realize their healthy selves. One of the ways we want to help provide opportunities for individuals to realize their healthy selves is through our Sea Glass Grants opportunity. A Sea Glass Grant aims to support small projects that create, develop or communicate a project that supports eating disorder recovery and healthy self-image. The latest recipient of the Sea Glass Grant is JOY’d: Joy Over Your Destination, an organization that provides earrings and encouragement for women in eating disorder treatment. Read on to learn more from founder Amy Sullivan about this amazing organization in this week’s blog post…

How did Joy’d come about?

JOY’d started with a simple question, what is my purpose? When I entered treatment for my eating disorder I didn’t fully believe that recovery was possible.  I was blessed during this time to hear stories of women who were living proof that recovery was not only possible, but oh so worth it.  I vowed that if I made it through the storm I would give back and tell my story like these brave women had done for me.  A year into my recovery I created JOY’d: Joy Over Your Destination to encourage men and women in eating disorder treatment. JOY’d sends out earrings along with encouragement cards to warriors in treatment {earrings are substituted for silly putty if a center has male clients} to try and bring them JOY. On the back of each card is the simple phrase, “Wear these earrings as a reminder that recovery is possible” because that is what I want these brave men and women to believe: that recovery is possible. I fully believe that my purpose is to spread joy and encourage those seeking recovery.

How has Joy’d helped you in your recovery journey?

JOY’d has given me a purpose for the pain I went through.  I can now look back at the darkest times of my journey and know that they happened for a reason.  Every moment, tear, person and struggle brought me to where I am now and this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Even if I just help one person to believe that recovery is possible, everything that I went through would be worth it.

Who is JOY’d?   

JOY’d is me, Amy.  I’m a personal stylist, coffee drinker, dog mom and Auntie to the most adorable little girl. My perfect summer day involves sitting by the pool with a good book and I will use any excuse I can to travel! More importantly, I am in recovery from an eating disorder after struggling for six years.  JOY’d is my mom, Jill, who is not only my best friend, but also helps me to make and package the earrings.  JOY’d is for  all of the amazing people who helped me to get to this point in my recovery; friends, family and of course my rock star treatment team.

What feeling do you most associate with JOY’d?

As cliché as it sounds, JOY!  While the eating disorder stole so much from me, what I felt like it stole the most from me was joy. My favorite part of this process is when someone who received my earrings reaches out to me and tells me what they meant to them.  What started as trying to bring others joy, has actually brought more joy back to me than I could have ever dreamed.

Walk me through the JOY’d process, how do people hear about you and your project?

Since launching JOY’d I have been working on spreading the word and connecting with treatment centers! Once I get in contact with a treatment center, the only info I need from them is how many clients they have {how many male and how many female} and an address to send the package to! I always try to include a few extra pairs of earrings for some of the staff because they are truly saving lives every day.

How and where do you get your materials?

We find most of our materials at local craft stores and some on Etsy.  We have also been blessed with amazing leather donations from La-Z-Boy and Underwood Boot Company!

What is your favorite part of the day-to-day start up process?

My favorite part of the start up process has been working with my mom.  Our relationship was so strained when I was in the midst of my eating disorder, but it is better than ever now.  My mom is my biggest fan.  I love sitting around with her brainstorming new ideas for JOY’d and of course, making earrings!

How can people get involved?

People can get involved by following @JoyOverYourDestination on Instagram.  If you feel called to support JOY’d, I also sell earrings with encouragement cards on Etsy. For every pair sold a pair is donated to women in treatment and $5 is donated to Southern Smash, an incredible non-profit that raises awareness for eating disorders and promotes positive body image by hosting scale smashes across the country.

What advice would you give to someone in their recovery who has a dream?

Fight for your dreams!  People in recovery from an eating disorder are the strongest and most determined people I’ve come across.  Take that leap of faith. If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough!

What are your hopes and dreams for Joy’d?

Since July 2017, JOY’d has sent out over 300 pairs of earrings to treatment centers across the United States! My dream is to one day be able to travel to treatment centers to share my story, hand deliver earrings and let the clients craft their own encouragement cards! I hope that one day JOY’d will become a household name in the eating disorder recovery world.

 

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

Posted in Recovery

Article Inspiration

Posted on December 14, 2017 by StayConnected

Join us in reading inspirational and informative articles we have cultivated from across the web. If you have found an article you feel is inspirational, explores current research, or is a knowledgeable piece of literature and would like to share with us please send an e-mail here.

 

How to Support My Recovery with Structure During the Holidays ED Hope

New Study Finds Meditation with Walking Reduces Anxiety Psychology Today

Thoughtful Gifts to Give a Loved One with Mental Illness The Mighty

How is Hating Your Body Serving You? Huffington Post

4 Tips for Navigating the Holiday Season Without Compromising Your Recovery Journey Recovery Warriors

For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

 

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