Eating Disorder Resources
Here at Opal, we’ve created this resources section to be just that – a resource. We hope that the information here acts as a starting point in understanding and beginning to address these issues either for yourself or someone that you love. This section is not fully comprehensive, so we also invite you to contact us at any time to discuss other questions or concerns you may have. Included in these eating disorder resources are books, articles, support groups, podcasts, individuals to follow, and more.
Weight Inclusive Resources
Resources on Health at Every Size, fat-positivity, body liberation, and a weight-neutral approach to health.
General Eating Disorder Resources
Resources and research on eating disorder diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
See here for the people and resources that are helping change Opal's treatment and staff culture to be anti-oppressive.
Looking for More Support?
Information on ED and mental health support, free and virtual eating disorder support groups, books, podcasts, social media accounts that promote recovery.
How to talk to a loved one
You’re here because there is someone in your life that you’re worried about. This is not an easy conversation to have. We understand. The following suggestions are only a guide, so keep in mind that these conversations cannot and will not be perfect. That’s ok! It’s enough that you care about this person to try.
- To prepare, do some research. A continuum exists with healthy relationship to food+body on one end and full-blown eating disorders on the other. Most people fall somewhere in between. Getting some basic information about eating disorders before you sit down to talk will equip you to share some of what you know with the person. Look through our resources above for information on specific eating disorders and symptoms.
- Consider your own relationship to food, body, and exercise. Consider how you talk about and act in regards to food, body, and exercise. How might you be influencing this person with your words and actions? For example, do you or your friends ever say things like, “Does this make me look fat?” or “I wish I was as skinny as you.” We inevitably impact others and may not even realize it.
- Be willing to be vulnerable. If you’re willing to open up about your own struggles with food, body, or exercise, the person you’re talking to will likely feel more open to hearing your concerns about them and feel more understood.
- Find a neutral time and place. Avoid having the conversation during a mealtime or when food is present, and find a relatively calm place to talk. Also, be mindful of the greater context of this person’s life – having this conversation right after the person failed a big test, for example, may not be the best timing.
- Share your concerns. Try to be specific about what is worrisome regarding their eating or exercise habits so that your message is very clear. Avoid commenting on this person’s appearance or weight if possible and use “I” statements (e.g. “I notice that you only eat one meal a day. I’m concerned about the negative way you talk about your body.”)
- Don’t get stuck on the details. Focusing only on the specifics of eating or exercise habits can make for a too-quick, dead-end conversation. When it comes down to it, eating disorders are often a way to cope with much deeper, internal struggles regarding someone’s value, worth, identity, health, and wholeness. Ultimately, questions like, “How are you really doing?” or “What is this about for you?” are your best bet, along with phrases like, “I can see you’re hurting.” They need to know that you see past the symptoms and see them as a whole person.
- Avoid blaming the person and avoid getting angry. This person may deny your concerns, get defensive, or even get angry. Stay neutral and remind the person that you are discussing this because you’re concerned for their well-being.
- Offer to support. The best thing you can do is to listen and to come alongside this person in finding a therapist or other eating disorder resources when they are ready. Being support may also mean accepting that the person might not want help at that time. Letting them know you care and will be there for them in the future is still important.
Also keep in mind that, as a person supporting someone with an eating disorder or other food + body concerns, you may want to consider having your own support like a trusted friend, family member, a therapist, or support group. Be intentional about who you choose to share this sensitive information with. Being willing to have this conversation is a testament to your deep care for this person and to your courage, but it’s risky because you can’t be sure how this person will respond. You need support too.
Let us know how else we can help.
Defining Eating Disorders
Feeding and eating disorders are characterized by a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning. (DSM V, p. 329)
Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by:
- A restriction of energy intake leading to a significantly low body weight
- Intense fear of gaining weight and/or engaging in behavior that interferes with weight gain despite being at a significantly low weight (e.g. restricting food intake, binging/purging, laxative misuse, excessive exercising)
- Restricting Type doesn’t involve binging and purging
- Disturbance in the way one’s body weight/shape is experienced, attributing self-worth to one’s weight/shape, lack of recognition of the seriousness of one’s low body weight
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by:
- Repeated binge episodes, which means consuming a very large amount of food in a very short period of time
- Feeling out of control
- Repeated “compensatory behaviors” to prevent weight gain such as purging, misuse of laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercising
- A fixation on one’s body weight/shape and attributing this to self-worth
Binge-Eating Disorder is characterized by:
- Repeated binge episodes, which means eating an abnormally large amount of food in a very short period of time and feeling out of control
- A person can experience eating faster than normal, feeling uncomfortably full, eating a lot when not actually hungry, eating alone out of shame or guilt, feelings of disgust with oneself as a result of bingeing
- A lack of compensatory behaviors
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder is characterized by:
the following to the point that a person experiences significant weight loss, significant nutritional deficiency, impaired psychosocial functioning, and/or dependence on supplemental nutrition:”
- Lack of interest in eating
- Avoiding food based on sensory characteristics of food
- Concern about negative consequences of eating
Characterized a fixation on “perfect eating,” often in the form of eating “perfectly healthy,” and a fixation on food quality and purity. Eventually, a person’s relationship with food can become so rigid and restrictive that he or she actually compromises health as well as relationships, social activities, etc. Though this is not an officially recognized eating disorder, it has many of the same characteristics of other eating disorders and is why we feel like Orthorexia is an important concept to acknowledge.
- Consider the following questions. The more questions you respond “yes” to, the more likely you are dealing with orthorexia (Copied from NEDA).
- Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat and not worry about food quality?
- Do you ever wish you could spend less time on food and more time living and loving?
- Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served?
- Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you?
- Do love, joy, play and creativity take a back seat to following the perfect diet?
- Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
- Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet?
- Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?
A feeding or eating disorder that causes significant distress or impairment, but does not meet the specific criteria for another feeding or eating disorder.
Understanding Opal's Approach to food and body
We believe in the model of attuned eating and hold it as a goal for our clients. The aim of attuned eating is to learn to trust that our bodies work! This means trusting that our bodies know what to do with the foods we put in it, that our bodies will tell us when we’re hungry and when we’re full, and that we can distinguish between our physical and emotional feelings. Intuitive eating also aims to separate self-worth from diet and weight, allowing us to make peace with food and our bodies. We recognize that intuitive eating does not come easily to many of us and can even be quite frightening to consider – this is why we take care to meet each client where they are in this journey and work at a pace that is appropriate for each person.ption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning. (DSM V, p. 329)
As many clients who begin treatment struggle to nourish themselves appropriately, we help provide structure through an individualized meal plan. Clients and their dietitians create meal plans together at the beginning of treatment; the goal is to move away from this structure to more attuned eating over time
This refers to eating choices that are distinct from disordered eating, such as vegetarianism, veganism, or choices to eating locally-sourced foods, for example. Food values are an important part of each person’s general food choices, yet can become intermingled with disordered eating as well. We work to honor each person’s unique values while also paying special attention to how a food value could be part of one’s eating disorder
The simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control)
Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT) is a new treatment that targets over-controlled behavior. It has been used to treat some of the rigid responses and emotional inhibition thought to underlie many treatment-resistant conditions. RO-DBT has been informed by over 20 years of clinical and experimental research, and is a talk therapy that involves weekly individual and group sessions. The RO-DBT treatment typically involves a 1-hour weekly individual session and a 2.5-hour weekly group session.
Opal offers this in Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Program.
Understanding Staff Credentials
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist/Associate
Licensed Mental Health Counselor/Associate
Registered Dietitian, by Commission on Dietetic Registration
Certified Dietitian, by Washington State Department of Health
Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Registered Dietitian by International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals