I am so excited to announce that I will be presenting at the FNCE nutrition conference October 16-18th 2016!
FNCE is the official Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I will be speaking on “The Hidden Faces of Eating Disorders” with Julie Duffy Dillon and Rebecca Scritchfield. We hope to bring more awareness to eating disorders treatment within the “hidden” populations of pregnancy, mid-life, and type 2 diabetes. Hopefully I can help spread the word that no client should ever feel ashamed for getting treatment for disordered eating.
When most people think of eating disorders, the image that typically comes to mind is a teenage girl or a young woman who is battling either anorexia or bulimia. Although younger females do make up a significant portion of the eating disorder population, an eating disorder does not discriminate. In fact, statistics show that at least 30 million people of all races and genders in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. This newsletter will focus on three populations that have less visibility than the “typical” disordered eater: pregnant females, women in mid-life, and people with type 2 diabetes.
Eating Disorders in Pregnancy
While strange food cravings are common during pregnancy (hello, pickles and ice cream!), some eating behaviors can become dangerous for both mom and baby. Anorexia, defined as an intense fear of weight gain coupled with a restriction of food intake, is especially harmful during pregnancy. This phenomenon has even been dubbed “pregorexia” and can occur as a new eating disorder or as a relapse when a previously recovered female discovers she is newly pregnant. Some pregnant women also develop or relapse into bulimia, which is vomiting, laxative abuse, and over-exercising, or binge eating disorder, which is uncontrollably eating large amounts of food. Bingeing is common because “cravings” act as an excuse to binge on otherwise “forbidden” foods – especially if the woman was a chronic dieter prior to pregnancy. Body image issues may also play a role in the development of a pregnancy-related eating disorder, as women experience many body changes, food cravings, and hormonal shifts during this time.
Eating Disorders in Mid-Life
Women in mid-life experience many changes such as a slower metabolism due to menopause, empty nest syndrome, and sometimes career and relationship disruptions. These changes, combined with society’s relentless emphasis on being thin/fit/healthy, often cause middle-aged women to feel dissatisfied with their appearance. Disappointment with their figures can lead to various manifestations of disordered eating, from a diet-binge cycle to orthorexia, which is an unhealthy fixation with eating healthy or “clean” foods. It’s helpful for these women to seek out new coping skills for dealing with all of the changes that they experience during mid-life, and understand the natural changes that a body goes through during mid-life.
Eating Disorders in Type 2 Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes often hear advice from well-meaning friends, family, and even health professionals that they need to “just lose some weight,” “cut out carbs,” “never eat sugar,” or “just have sugar-free snacks!” While these tips might seem helpful, they often end up being way too restrictive which may ultimately lead someone down the path to a binge eating disorder. It’s important to understand the realistic advice on living with type 2 diabetes and to approach a healthy diet as a healthy lifestyle.
The “hidden faces” of eating disorders are not just limited to these populations. Hidden faces are everywhere and we need to work together to bring treatment to people that need it.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”