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Actions and Solutions to Address Eating Disorders

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Body-Image-Quote-by-Connie-SobczakThe following material and the related articles on the topic of Eating Disorders was compiled by The Antioch University Community Psych Eating Disorder Team. They worked together to provide materials that look at the problems, solutions and program of actions people can take individually and on a group level to make a difference in a community dealing with Eating Disorders. The following is a summary of effective actions that have been incorporated into treatment plans. Their goal is to create and implement programs with children in Los Angeles area schools that incorporate these elements, along with education and nutrition components. All with the hopes of providing society more actions and solutions to address eating disorders.

Group Therapy:
In order to combat the ego driving forces of body image issues and prevent eating disorders amongst children we can teach them to reach inward to express their inner most fears, shame and secrets about themselves. The process of expressing their feelings and current false beliefs about their bodies, will catapult a transformation for developing a self-concept that is rich in self-acceptance, self-love and a positive relationship to their bodies. Through group therapy facilitated by an MFT or MFT intern, we will create a safe environment for the children to relate to one another, reveal their secrets and learn that they are not alone.

Elements of group therapy are as follows:Group therapy

  • Incorporate CBT therapy in the group setting. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (The Center for Eating Disorders, 2015) “Is based on the theory that a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interconnected and can be restructured to support new, healthier thoughts and actions”(p.1).
  • In group therapy, provide psychoeducation in regards to the Cognitive and Behavior role in carrying on destructive thinking and behavior. Create an open forum to discuss how the children might be participating in these thought patterns and behaviors.
  • Address Cognitive Factors: perfectionism, self-worth, core-beliefs, and negative body image.(The Center for Eating Disorders, 2015)
  • Address Behavior Factors: dieting, binge eating, body checking, body avoidance, self-harm and restriction. (The Center for Eating Disorders, 2015)  Implement thought stopping techniques when wanting to self-harm. Encourage children to reach nbso online casino reviews out and vocalize their feelings. Provide role models from their age range to help with mirroring positive behaviors, such as Demi Lovato or Lady Gaga.
  • Once the children express their feelings we can help them implement new thought patterns, incorporate affirmations and positive role models into their lives.
  • New Cognitive Factors: Address phrases such as, “there is no such thing as bad food.” Implement affirmations such as; “I am,” “My worth comes from the inside,” and “I love my body.”

meditating 1Meditation:
Meditation has many benefits from releasing the stress hormone cortisol to releasing the grip on many negative beliefs or thoughts (Fulvio, 2010). Incorporating meditation as a solution in our workshop to combat negative cognitive patterns will be insurmountable in teaching the children to not become as attached to their negative thought patterns and release the power their thoughts have to control their behavior. Meditation is directly related to ones thoughts as described below:

“Meditation also creates an awareness of your thoughts, feelings, reactions, behaviors, your compulsions and the actions they precipitate. As you begin to cultivate a practice of being more attuned to the way that your brain is working, you will find that you have more control over your compulsions and behaviors.” (Fulvio, 2010, p.2).

Elements of implementing meditation in ones workshop can work as follows:

  • Begin each group therapy session with a five-minute meditation.
  • Emphasize that meditation is not about stopping the thoughts in their minds but becoming the observer of their thoughts and focusing on their breath.
  • Educate the children on the benefits and statistics of mediation.
  • After the meditation, process their feelings and experiences during the meditation.

Yoga and Breathing Techniques:
Yoga has become widespread in Los Angeles; staying true to its Indian roots of spirituality and also merging into a more western dominate type of exercise form. In dealing with eating disorders and prevention it is imperative to adhere to core historic yoga teachings. According to Boudette (2006) some yoga classes and instructors reinforce the same self-destructive beliefs and cultural values that we are trying to release from the children’s minds. The instructors and studios which use mirrors and emphasis physical verses the spiritual, prevent students from gaining the full spiritual benefits of a yoga practice such as; self-acceptance, compassion, and the importance of the internal experience verses how the physical body looks. We advocate for a more traditional eastern form of yoga which incorporates; relaxation, gaining a sense of self-acceptance, tapping into the body and breathing techniques to reduce stress. Yoga directly relates to ones experience with their eating disorder and if they can learn to push through the discomfort in their yoga practice, this will transcend into their lives, for example;

yoga schools“Tolerating the discomfort of a yoga pose is akin to tolerating the discomfort that comes with tolerating fullness from the re-feeding process experienced in recovering from anorexia. Yoga also enables patients to experience their bodies in a new way. Living in a society that values how you look more than how you feel, eating disorder patients often relate to the body as an ornament; they suffer from a disconnection from the body, feelings, appetites, and inner experience.” (Boudette, 2006, p.169).

Elements of implementing yoga in our workshop are as follows:

  • End each workshop with a 30 min yoga session.
  • Emphasis the importance of yoga being an internal journey and not external journey.
  • Encourage students to refrain from comparing themselves to other students; and when they begin to; provide an affirmation to counteract negative self-talk.
  • Educate students on the benefits of yoga and the yoga classes to avoid (classes with mirrors or too much emphasis on ones physicality versus spirituality).
  • Educate students on yoga principles and yoga philosophies such as the sutras.

Sessions would include weekly interactive group sessions centered on body acceptance and self-esteem, in order to dissuade the students from pursuing the thin ideal. The goal is to empower kids to challenge people when they make thin ideal statements, and come up with their own arguments against this ideal. By challenging their fears and concerns about body image, we believe preventative healing will occur.


Some groundbreaking websites are currently changing the online landscape, working to banish online body shaming and having some success at promoting healthy body image and self-esteem in girls and teenagers. Some outstanding examples:</strong>

<a href=””><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-3460″ src=”” alt=”modified” width=”526″ height=”441″ /></a>

Lady Gaga has been open to her fans – affectionately known as “Little Monsters” – about her eating disorder, bullying and self esteem issues. With her mother, Gaga created the Born this Way Foundation to “Inspire Bravery and Empower Youth”. The mission of her foundation is to support the wellness of young people and empower them to create a kinder and braver world. The <a href=””>Born This Way website</a> hosts forums for members to share their stories, find help and resources, and support real research projects to bring about meaningful change in the community.

<a href=””><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-3461″ src=”” alt=”proud2b” width=”260″ height=”97″ /></a>

<a href=””>The Proud2Bme website</a> is an online community by and for teens and young adults. The website is “about our bodies and ourselves, our health and our hopes… Striving to be better without killing ourselves to be perfect…And taking on the body bullies – and winning!” This online community has personal and honest blogs about suffering and recovering from eating disorders. It also celebrates the many diverse and beautiful bodies of its members in positive, life affirming exposes. Proud2Bme showcased the story of 21-year-old Emily Rosenberg who worked with the National Eating Disorders Association to write a bill expanding eating disorders education in Pennsylvania! Spotlighting young people advocating for other young people is a powerful message that together they can support each other to make Big Change!

<img class=”aligncenter size-medium wp-image-3467″ src=”×300.png” alt=”Healthy better shot” width=”277″ height=”300″ />

Former model Katie H. Willcox and her husband Bradford co-founded <a href=””>Healthy is the New Skinny</a>, dedicated to helping girls find their wings.  They feel that in “our culture today, people are conditioned to believe their worth and greatness as individuals comes from the physical beauty they possess. And that we have been sold far more than products and beauty ideals. As women, we have been sold our identity and our dreams. Our self-love has been high-jacked by corporations to make a profit without us being consciously aware it was happening.” <strong><em>HNS</em></strong> is dedicated to changing the game by creating messages and products that empower women by planting seeds of truth and wisdom.

<a href=””><img class=”aligncenter wp-image-3470″ src=”” alt=”Rookie” width=”297″ height=”290″ /></a>

<a href=””>Rookie Magazine</a>: Tavi Gevinson’s online magazine began as a cool community where teenagers share art, ideas, feelings, funky fashion, music, the ideals of Recycle, Reuse, and all around Repurpose radical thoughts and emotions about being a teenager in this day and age. It very much captures a vibe of what it feels like to grow up with conflicted emotions in an often confusing culture.

<img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-3471″ src=”” alt=”missrep” width=”248″ height=”245″ />

Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s first film <a title=”Miss Representation” href=”” target=”_blank”><i>Miss Representation</i></a> premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film and exposed the ways in which mainstream media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. In response to overwhelming public demand for ongoing education and social action in support of the film’s message, Newsom founded <a href=””>The Representation Project</a> in April 2011. As an organization, The Representation Project remains true to the message of <i>Miss Representation</i> that limiting stereotypes harm all of us and that women deserve a seat at the table. Using film as a catalyst, they work to raise awareness about the dangerous and deceptive messages sent to young people by the media, to shift consciousness against social inequities, and inspire healthier behavior. The filmmaker also developed a curriculum to present in schools, furthering the dialogue of gender and social injustice in our society.

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About the Author

The Antioch University Community Psych Eating Disorder Team includes: Ori Shansi Agam, Lisa Blume, Lauren Emmel, Michele Simon, Suzy Unger, Sergio Ocampo. They are working together to provide materials that look at the problems, solutions and program of actions people can take individually and on a group level to make a difference in a community dealing with Eating Disorders.

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    How big of a problem is Disordered Eating?

     31.8% of the American population suffers from obesity. (Social Progress Index, 2015)

    • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

     The United States populace ranks as the 14th most obese population in the world (14th out of 133 nations)  (Social Progress Index, 2015)

    • The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illnesses are a staggering $190.2 billion or nearly 21% of annual medical spending in the United States. (Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C. The medical care costs of obesity: an instrumental variables approach. Journal of Health Economics. 31(1):219-230. 2012.)



    Media, Perception, Dieting:

    • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.

    • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.

    • The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.

    • 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.

    • 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.

    • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).

    • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. (Mellin et al., 1991).

    > Good Sources:
    Collins, M.E. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208.

    Mellin, L., McNutt, S., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G.B., Crawford, P., & Obarzanek, E. (1991). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: The NHLBI growth and health study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 23-37.

    Come back to see our article update on the status of disordered eating in America. It’s horrendous. But the solutions that are forming bring hope!

    The Antioch University Community Psych Eating Disorder Team
    Antioch University