Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Written by Jessica Peterson, MS, RD, CDCES, Registered Dietician Nutritionist

When we think of eating disorders we often think about the emancipated, white, teenage girl staring at herself in the mirror grasping for the fat she does not have on her body.  We rarely see the 20 something male meticulously counting macros, the transgender freshman living in a larger body participating in weight watchers for the 3rd time, or our multiracial friend who everyone admires for their “clean eating” and consistent exercise patterns.

But here is the deal…

Eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds.  Subclinical eating disorder behaviors are nearly as common in men as women.  Transgender college students are more likely to report disordered eating behaviors than any other group of college students.  Hispanics are more likely to suffer from bulimia than non-Hispanics and black teenagers are 50% more likely to exhibit bulimic behavior than white teenagers.  Eating disorders affect lesbian or bisexual and heterosexual women equally.  Fifteen percent of gay or bisexual men and 5% of heterosexual men had an eating disorder or reported disordered eating behavior at some point in their lives. Forty two percent of teenage female athletes report disordered eating behavior, and 25% of college female athletes had disordered eating behavior.

In addition, disordered eating behaviors are normalized and often encouraged in college culture and beyond.  Dieting is not normal.  Working out for 1.5 hours is not normal.  Counting calories, macros, or carbohydrates is not normal.  Weighing yourself daily, even weekly, is not normal!

If you find yourself

  • Constantly thinking about food
  • Always planning for that next diet or exercise routine
  • Concerned about the size of your body and/or how it compares to others
  • Being uninterested in eating certain foods because those foods aren’t “healthy”

You might be struggling with disordered eating or eating disorder behaviors and deserve help.

Consider scheduling an appointment with our Registered Dietitian at 406-994-4380 or a Counselor (or both!) at 406-994-4351 or call the National Eating Disorder Association Help Line at 800-931-2237.  If you are unsure if you or someone you know needs help use the free screening tool located here: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/screening-tool.-

Eating disorders are complex bio-social illnesses that occur along a spectrum of disordered eating behaviors from clean eating to not eating to laxative use.  Eating disorders affect people of all body sizes, from all ethnic groups, and of all ages and genders and all people deserve treatment and healing.

  1. 7FJankowski, C. (2012). Associations Between Disordered Eating, Menstrual Dysfunction, and Musculoskeletal Injury Among High School Athletes. Yearbook of Sports Medicine, 2012, 394-395. doi:10.1016/j.yspm.2011.08.003
  2. Beals KA, Hill AK. The prevalence of disordered eating, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone mineral density among US collegiate
  3. Marques, L., Alegria, M., Becker, A. E., Chen, C., Fang, A., Chosak, A., & Diniz, J. B. (2011). Comparative Prevalence, Correlates of Impairment, and Service Utilization for Eating Disorders across U.S. Ethnic Groups: Implications for Reducing Ethnic Disparities in Health Care Access for Eating Disorders. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 44(5), 412–420. http://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20787
  4. Becker, A. E., Franko, D. L., Speck, A., & Herzog, D. B. (2003). Ethnicity and differential access to care for eating disorder symptoms. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 33(2), 205-212. doi:10.1002/eat.10129
  5. Wade, T. D., Keski-Rahkonen A., & Hudson J. (2011).Epidemiology of eating disorders. In M. Tsuang and M. Tohen (Eds.), Textbook in Psychiatric Epidemiology (3rd ed.) (pp. 343-360). New York: Wiley
  6. Feldman, M. B. and Meyer, I. H. (2007), Eating disorders in diverse lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations. Int. J. Eat. Disord., 40: 218–226.
  7. Diemer, E. W., Grant, J. D., Munn-Chernoff, M. A., Patterson, D. A., & Duncan, A. E. (2015). Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Eating-Related Pathology in a National Sample of College Students. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57(2), 144-149. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.03.003
  8. Mond, J.M., Mitchison, D., & Hay, P. (2014) “Prevalence and implications of eating disordered behavior in men” in Cohn, L., Lemberg, R. (2014) Current Findings on Males with Eating Disorders. Philadelphia, PA: Routledge.
  9. Ray, Nicholas. 2007. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Coalition for the Homeless.

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