Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition that will impact an estimated one in 50 people over the course of a lifetime.1 In some cases, those with body dysmorphia also suffer from eating disorder behavioral patterns such as caloric restriction, compulsive exercise, binge-purge cycles, or obsession with weight. The earliest signs of body dysmorphia often manifest in adolescence,2 and anyone can be at risk—no matter their gender pronouns, sexual orientation, body composition, or ethnic background. Here is what you should know about body dysmorphia in case you (or a loved one) are exhibiting symptoms of this mental illness.
Addictions and Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are deadly but also treatable mental illnesses. Still, in my early struggle to recover, there were many common eating disorder treatments that didn't work for me. Understand, I am not saying that they don't work for anyone. On the contrary, they work for countless people who suffer. This said, there is no one road to recovery, and I write this blog post in the hopes of inspiring people who haven't had any luck with traditional eating disorder treatments to keep going.
Synonymous with gorging oneself on immense quantities of food and drink, for those of us in eating disorder recovery, Thanksgiving can be a stressful time. However, you don't have to suffer. There are some simple ways you can navigate Thanksgiving in eating disorder recovery, and they all involve one key strategy.
Just this morning, I opened my email inbox and noticed a subject line which read, "How many steps should you take to lose weight?" As someone who continues to battle thoughts of anorexia on a daily basis, my first reaction to seeing this was to click the email thread, so I could know the answer. I was even tempted to scroll through my mobile fitness tracker to ensure I habitually reach the step count required. But since I am also in committed recovery now, this initial reflex was supplanted by another, more constructive question: "Can fitness trackers worsen eating disorder behaviors?" Could monitoring the number of steps taken, floors climbed, miles run or walked, and calories burned increase the obsessive patterns which eating disorders thrive on? Based on my own experience, I think that answer is, "Yes."
Exercise can be a great tool to help you through eating disorder recovery, but my experience has shown me the thin, blurry line between healthy exercise and over-exercise in eating disorder recovery. In recent weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic and my mental health fall-out has revealed just how much of my self-worth has been wrapped up in my workouts. It was a sobering realization and one I vowed to change.
Traveling in recovery from an eating disorder poses some challenges. How big those challenges are will depend on where you are in your recovery. I've recently returned from a week-long vacation to Cuba with my family, and even a decade into recovery, I faced my fair share of hurdles.
New Year's Eve can cause eating disorders to flare up, and consequently, I don't have a single good memory of New Year's Eve. Not in my adult life, at least.
Research studies have found many parallels between bulimia and drug addiction. Conceptualizing bulimia as an addiction, or simply understanding the similarities between these mental health problems may help open up new possibilities for treatment.
Eating disorders and pornography addictions have more in common than you might realize at face value. But when you break down the complex nuances, deep-rooted motives, and unaddressed traumas that often drive the symptoms of these issues, both eating disorders and porn addictions share many identical threads. In fact, I know firsthand this connection exists because I am a survivor of anorexia, and my husband is a recovered user of porn. Our two healing stories are uniquely our own, but the similarities between his obstacles and mine are also just too pronounced to dismiss as coincidental. So what do eating disorders and pornography addictions have in common? In case you are wondering, here is my perspective on this enmeshed and intricate dynamic.
It's beneficial to be committed to healthy living and choose to make fitness an integral part of your routine, but if you are susceptible to disordered eating behaviors, that passion for exercise could turn into an addiction. Being physically active is important for stress reduction, balanced emotions, hormone regulation, and optimal body functions. However, fitness can become more harmful than helpful when the need to workout feels driven by compulsion instead of enjoyment and well-being. Here are some indicators that your passion for exercise has turned into an addiction—or an extension of your eating disorder.