Rosewood Centers blog for topic on eating disorders, health tips, recipes and more. Rosewood is the leading eating disorder treatment center for all stages of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating recovery for adults and teens.
Before Rosewood, life was bleak. Food was scary. Meal times were torture. And the bathroom toilet was my closest companion. I was lost. My family was suffering. My parents were at a loss. We’d been having the same conversation for almost a decade: “Eat Liz!” “No mom I can’t” “Please don’t purge, Lizzi!” “Dad I need to!” I had given up. I was starving, my heart was starting to have issues, and my high soprano singing voice was a scratchy thing of the past. I was passing out at work, at home, everywhere. ED was killing me, and I was content to die that way. Then we found Rosewood.
I had never thought of my eating disorder as anything serious, because medical professionals had always wrote me off due to my weight. I “wasn’t sick enough” (a statement that motivated my ED even more). But Rosewood was different. They took me inpatient, and kept me there for over a month until I moved on to residential for another month, then eventually the Extended Day Program in Santa Monica. Now, I’m not saying it was easy, because it 100% was not. I struggled on every step, but I was never alone. The Rosewood Santa Monica staff and peers truly changed my life. I don’t NEED to purge anymore or starve, and I realized I never really needed to in the first place. ED was my best friend, sometimes my only friend, for so long, but I needed to let it go. And with Rosewood’s help, I am now healing and actually happy.
It was such an incredible weekend with Taryn Brumfitt. I don’t know who was more excited, us or Taryn. We had 127 attendees.
Taryn was by far one of the greatest speakers because she made the time to sit and talk with everyone in the room. She knew alum by name and connected with them. She took selfies/photos with everyone. Friday was the dinner with alum as Taryn met with the professionals. After dinner we showed the documentary Embrace. Saturday morning she shared her personal story to create trust before moving into the workshops. After lunch, we spent 3 hours of body image workshops and her finale was having EVERYONE up dancing. I have never seen so many smiles, tears and laughter. (I have it on video). Sunday we opened up the floor for the alum to give back to Taryn. They shared with her what they learned and how they are going to apply it to their lives. Not a dry eye in the house.
Taryn’s workshop included topics on:
Why do we hate our bodies?
Photoshopping (spot the difference)
Inequality in ad campaigns
Advertising with no morals
Social Media, who to follow and unfollow. “Take out your phones.”
Self-Care and Sparkle (Self-Care vs Sparkle activity. Sparkle activity is any activity that gives you a rush, a thrill, goosebumps, has you laughing until you almost wet your pants.)
Final Breath activity. “Close your eyes, fast forward to your final days on earth, what is it you are thinking about? What thoughts are going through your mind? What memories come flashing up to you? I bet no one’s memories were of their bum, thighs or stretch marks! That’s because the reality is those things don’t matter. And for the longest time, we’ve let those things define us. We’ve spent more time hating our bodies than loving them!”
Change and Accept list. Group discussion on what part of your body consumes your time that you talk about the most. Could we move it to the “accept” side of the list and throw no more energy its’ way?
Change your language.
Label your body.
Finale…Shall we dance or meditate? Yep, we shall DANCE!
Taryn and I met afterwards and she asked questions about Eating Disorders and how she can support. She asked what she should and should not say, etc. She was kind and very appreciative of Rosewood and the work we do.
Inspiring and life changing. It was a dream come true for me to work alongside her in delivering a strong message.
Register here for the 2018 Rosewood Arizona Alumni Reunion! Our featured guest will be best selling author and director of the critically acclaimed social-change documentary Embrace, Taryn Brumfitt! We can’t wait to see everyone!
My name is Lavinia; I was a patient at ANJ (now Rosewood Santa Monica) during the summer of 2015. Today I am writing to you for the first time because today I went to Rosewood to turn in a painted canvas that was given to me by Lynne Biehl (Alumni Coordinator); an incredible woman who graciously took me under her wing when I was very scared and broken, after a year and a half of recovery. I never considered myself an outstanding member of recovery treatment, let alone an alumni. Really what it was, was that the steps towards healing were incredibly overwhelming and foreign to me. I was so in tune with my eating disorder I didn’t think there would ever be a world outside of that. Rosewood Santa Monica showed me the complete opposite. The thing is, from what I have gathered so far is that recovery…full recovery from the vicious cycles of an eating disorder is certainly not linear, and is unabashedly imperfect. Without remorse, without any sense of carefulness towards your spirit, life happens after recovery, and I mean really happens, in all forms shapes and sizes, and I’m not just speaking physically. I mean besides the many ripped jeans, and the torn shirts, or the tight fitted bras that were once loose, it’s all about accepting the life that you were so scared to live before the eating disorder. Living in life everyday takes an incredible amount of bravery because we are in fact venturing into the complete unknown, without any form of a security blanket we thought existed.
Today I have decided to write to you because I was encouraged to say a word or two about the painting. I have struggled with accepting myself every day, but creating was always something that came naturally to me. The only days when I was not creating, shockingly, was when I was fully immersed in my eating disorder and that became completely my life. So from age twenty one to age twenty four, I was in the complete dark, creatively speaking. I hadn’t produced one singular painting. Today, I am twenty six, and I have produced about twenty new pieces since I “recovered” with one relapse.
The first thing I did as a child was naturally dance which turned into figure skating that turned into musical theatre, and then when all those things didn’t pan out in the perfect way that I wanted it to, I managed to find my way in the world of teaching English to Italian speakers in the country I was born, Italy. Ironically being in the smallest little town imaginable in the outskirts of Umbria, I still found myself at my breaking point. I fell hard into bulimia and had a small but acute heart failure…I came back home and admitted myself into Rosewood.
For the longest time, I simply wanted to be seen as something more then I was because I was too scared to look deep within myself to find the truth that was there all along. My self-worth came from the incredible amount of love that surrounded me. It is an intense and beautifully powerful love that is indescribably distinct in its nature. It wasn’t until I decided to feel that love, each and every day, that things did start changing for me. I found that love in my church, but love is truly universal; it can be described in so many different ways so whatever that is for you, hold on to that. That is your lighthouse, and will always be what carries you to your truth. It will be what guides you throughout your days. It will be what brings an infinite abundance of peace in your heart and soul wherever it is your heart takes you. It will be your compass in life when you are lost at sea.
There are still days, even when I have all the work that I’ve produced, where I am at a complete loss with myself, it is very much part of the creative process to be lost, but when I am at a loss and I don’t know up from down…I come back to my intentions, to my positive affirmations and to the Love that is for me. Today, I am back at my community college, where I intend to continue my studies as an artist and creative healer. I found that with art, painting, writing, singing, dancing, my soul feels blessed and whole. I am not a simple person, I will sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed in order to constantly manifest the beauty that is my soul and spirit, and I can only hope that you are all with me on this incredibly fascinating journey that is in the spirit of life.
In the time since I’ve left, I have seen and done so many truly wonderful and enriching things. From spending time with the homeless for very long periods of time to attempting to heal the addicted, to learning to love food again, to learning to love my body again in it’s incredible shape and form, to learning to love and honor my spirit and soul as its own unique form. All of it has been such a beautiful and precious gift with an abundance of surprises…but I wouldn’t have been able to honor and cherish any of it, had it not been for the wonderful staff and fellow members of A New Journey (Rosewood Santa Monica). So really this message is to thank all of you. Seriously. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it. I can only hope that this piece and the few more to come hopefully, can be able to express that. Thank you for all that you are, for your bravery, for your truth, thank you for being you, it is truly the greatest gift you have given.
U.S. culture’s obsession with unrealistic body ideals is taking a toll on girls. By age six – that’s kindergarten – girls start to express concerns about their weight and shape.
As many as 60% of girls in elementary school worry about becoming “too fat.” By the time they’re teenagers, 50% of teen girls (and 33% of boys) admit to using unhealthy methods to control their weight, including smoking cigarettes, skipping meals, fasting, vomiting or taking laxatives. Body dissatisfaction seems almost baked into the national psyche.
A poor body image is associated with feeling self-conscious, anxious and withdrawing from social activities. Taken to the extreme, poor body image can contribute to eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.
On the other hand, people with a positive body image feel comfortable with themselves and have the confidence to try new things, enjoy physical activities and participate in a wide variety of social gatherings.
In an environment where there are so many factors conspiring to bring down a teen’s sense of self-acceptance, what can parents do to help raise a child who has a positive body image?
Be mindful of how you talk to yourself.
Studies show that parents (and mothers in particular) can transfer a negative body image onto their daughters.
One reason for mother’s larger influence is that they typically engage in more attempts to modify their daughter’s appearance and eating behaviors than fathers, according to researchers. Mothers are also more likely to have a poor body image themselves. Researchers have also found that the mothers of teen girls with disordered eating are more likely to have body dissatisfaction or to feel that their daughters need to lose weight to improve their appearance.
If you suffer from a poor body image, be careful of what you say to your daughter, and what she overhears you saying when you look in the mirror or when talking with your friends. Don’t put yourself down in front of her, and don’t put others down either for their appearance.
The study, which included interviews with 559 teens starting at age 15 and then again when they were adults, asked about eating behaviors and if the teens were being pressured or encouraged to diet by their parents. (The majority of the study respondents were girls, but boys were included as well.)
Teens who had been told they should go on a diet were 25% more likely to be overweight and 37% more likely to be obese. Teens told to diet were 72% more likely to binge eat as adults.
When you discuss food, focus on what’s tasty and healthy.
Saying that certain foods will “make you fat,” or that carbs are evil, or any of the other things that adults say about food isn’t what kids need to hear. All foods are acceptable in moderation. Encourage kids to try a variety of foods. Make sure they hear you raving about how great that watermelon tastes on a hot day, or how satisfying a chopped salad can be. Praise them for trying a new vegetable, or for making a healthy choice about a snack.
Your diet should not be your child’s diet.
Whole 30. Ketogenic. Raw foods. Whether any of these diets can be healthy for adults may be up to debate, but they’re not good for growing teens. Adolescents require a balanced diet from all categories of the food pyramid. Restricting a child’s food choices or encouraging them to join you on your fad diet can result in malnutrition, stunted growth and can set them up for eating disorders later on.
Teach your teen to be media savvy.
Largely due to social media, today’s kids are exposed to a relentless stream of idealized images of perfect bodies and perfect lives. Have a conversation with your kids. Make sure they know how these images are created, that you only see a snippet of their lives, and that when it comes to celebrities, photographers use creative angles and retouching to eliminate flaws.
Model a healthy lifestyle.
Exercising and eating well helps people of any age feel good about themselves, teens included. To encourage this, eat meals together as a family as often as you can. Plan active family outings such as walks, hikes, bike rides, bowling – anything that gets you up and moving.
Make some subtle changes at home, such as limiting junk food, sweetened beverages and fast food. This is good for everyone, and will ensure that a teen doesn’t feel singled out or that they’re the only one who has a “problem.”
Raising a child with a positive body image in our appearance-obsessed culture isn’t easy. But by being mindful of what we say to teens and to ourselves, and by modeling a healthy lifestyle, parents can be a positive influence on the ways teens feel about their bodies.
Summer is almost here. For some people, the long sunny days conjure up happy times spent at barbecues, the pool or trips to the beach. For people in recovery from eating disorders, the carefree days of summer can feel like anything but.
“Bathing suit and shorts weather” can cause body image issues to resurface, while pressure to fill a plate with food at social gatherings can cause stress and anxiety. If left unchecked, summer activities can be a trigger for a relapse of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, with their cycles of starvation, binging and purging.
If thoughts of summer are causing you to worry about how you’ll get through it, here are some way to cope.
Wear shorts and a bikini if you want to. Or don’t.
People with eating disorders tend to be hypercritical of their body, honing in on perceived flaws and measuring their appearance in comparison to others. When people shed layers of clothes, engaging in this relentless self-assessment becomes that much easier.
Warning signs for an eating disorder relapse can include constantly looking in the mirror, feeling disgusted with oneself after eating, thinking obsessively about food and weight, or withdrawing from social activities. If you start to experience any of these symptoms, recognize you’re at risk of an eating disorder relapse. Practice the relaxation techniques and coping skills you learned in eating disorder treatment. Focus on sticking to your meal plan, and reach out for support immediately if you feel that negative internal monologue is getting too loud to ignore.
Keep in mind that what you wear or don’t wear in the summer is totally up to you. If you’re ready to put a bathing suit on or challenge yourself to wear one, go for it. If you’re not ready, or you feel it will do more harm than good, then don’t.
Stick to your schedule.
Maintaining a structure around eating, exercise and sleep, and following a meal plan established by your eating disorder treatment team, is very important when in recovery from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.
But time off from school, vacations, parties and other summer activities can easily disrupt those schedules. The changes in schedule provide ample opportunity to slip back into disordered eating habits, from restricting food to binging and purging.
If you’ll be traveling, attending a music festival or spending the day at the river, think about how you’ll handle it ahead of time. Pack food if you’re not sure what food will be available, or you’re worried you won’t find anything at the event that’s appealing.
Toss the magazines and lay off social media.
It happens twice a year like clockwork. After Christmas and New Year’s, glossy magazines promise to help you lose the holiday pounds. Leading up to summer, those same magazines promise to get you “beach body ready.”
No. Just no. Looking at pictures of airbrushed models, or trying to follow whatever diet or exercise regime celebrities purport to be on, is not going to help anyone feel good about themselves, practice self-acceptance or enjoy the unique and wonderful body they were born with.
Same goes for all those Instagram bikini selfies. (You’ve seen the ones of the long legs and painted toes in the chaise lounge looking out to a tropical paradise while you’re staring at dirty dishes in the kitchen sink?) There are just too many tricks that people can use with angles and filters to make themselves look far more “perfect” than they really are. As much as you can, just look away.
Have a plan for handling BBQs & picnics.
Heaping plates of ribs and coleslaw can fill people in recovery from eating disorders with dread. Eating in public and social gatherings centered around food can also provoke anxiety. The anxiety can be compounded if you’re worried about family or friends making comments about what you’re eating or not eating.
At these events, try to take the focus off the food and enjoy the conversations, the outdoors or a game of Frisbee. Just be sure that you’re nourishing your body and eating a sufficient amount of calories to maintain your weight and avoid restricting.
a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
Recovery for me hasn’t been so much of returning to a normal state of mind as it has been obtaining. Recovery for me has definitely been a journey and a half. My eating disorder started at a young age. In a way, the thoughts have been there as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until my adolescent years where I fully started acting upon them. My story includes some of the basics; trauma, anxiety, mental health issues, substance abuse and of course, nonetheless but heartbreak. My adolescent years were filled with self-hate, fueled by the notion that I would never amount to anything. In my eyes and my parents I was useless, a burden to the family, they’d be better off without me. Suicidal thoughts and ideation was something close to my heart for many years. I’d spend hours fantasying about how I’d go out.
My first hospitalized attempt I ended up going inpatient for my eating disorder afterwards. My best friend at the time told me repeatedly, “Tell them about your eating disorder. It’s killing you.” Looking back, I cannot describe how miserable I was due to all of my negative ways of coping. It definitely wasn’t just me putting these thoughts in my head but I was 100% guilty of believing them and continuing the story in my mind. I play the tapes every hour of every day. I wrote the words out with sharpie on my skin, I tore myself apart in the mirror, I was taught to hate myself and I ran with it. My parents were probably the least supportive people and they enjoyed me sick. Part of my recovery has been distancing myself from them.
I sit here in my Brooklyn apartment, married, with a job, a cat, and food to eat. Over a year since I left Rosewood. Looking back I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive team. I love everyone there. Staff helped me out more then they even know. Because of my circumstances at the time, part of my stay at Rosewood I was couch hopping, some nights with nowhere to go. As soon as the staff members found out they pulled resources together to help me find a place to sleep at night. My team never gave up on me and that was something I wasn’t used to in my life. I was used to people coming and going through my life. I was basically in a new school every year because of how much my family moved around, I was always the outcast. I had no real friends. I had no support system and the people I surrounded myself with up until I went to rosewood had all been using buddies. The notion of people sticking by my side genuinely wanting to help me get better was insane to me. It was such a foreign idea. At first I resisted I portrayed myself as the misunderstood nineteen year old. “No one could ever understand what I went through”. The idea was dissolved quickly into real relationships and connections I found with others. I became who I always knew I was capable of. Someone strong, but understanding, relatable, capable, compassionate, confident. Someone confident.
I used to hide under a façade, pretend I was better than others and could take on the world alone. After my stay at Rosewood, I’ve realized this was all a lie I was telling myself. No one, no one in the entire world can go take on life alone. Connections and the people we surround ourselves with is all we really have at the end of the day. At Rosewood I learned how to connect. I learned that being alone isn’t actually what I wanted. I realized I self-sabotaged every relationship I had ever had up until that point. I realized, and looking back I can see, I was just a sad scared little girl, hiding under heavy black eyeliner and loud music. Don’t get me wrong I still love these things, and there’s nothing wrong with the two I’ve just also learned how to embrace a softer side of me as well. I learned how to love, others, and myself.
To me my stay at Rosewood was so much more than just learning how to eat. It was learning how to live. Learning how to find myself and have an identity outside an eating disorder. I am not my disorder. I am me. I am strong.
The most powerful testimonies about eating disorders and recovery come from people who have experienced it. To raise awareness about eating disorders and the need for better access to care, a group of alumni and staff will travel to Washington, D.C. on April 24 to participate in National Advocacy Day.
The event is hosted twice a year by the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action, a nonprofit organization made up of eating disorders treatment centers and national eating disorders associations. The coalition aims to increase understanding about eating disorders among policymakers and the public, and advocate for increased resources for education, prevention and training.
Participants spend the day on Capitol Hill in meetings with members of Congress and their legislative aides who deal with health policy issues. From getting a behind the scenes view of Capitol Hill to sharing their personal stories, all agree it’s a powerful experience.
“By using my voice, I was allowed to share my experience with members of Congress and their staff to help them understand how important these issues are and that we need things to change before more people die from this deadly disease,” said Cheyenne Willis, who participated in last year’s National Advocacy Day. “Our presence made a difference because they truly listened to us that day.”
Delegations from each state, which can include eating disorder professionals and those in recovery, typically meet with members of Congress from their home state to request support for specific laws that impact people with eating disorders. In 2016, the group successfully advocated for passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which prohibits insurance companies from refusing to cover residential eating disorders treatment when medically necessary, and calls for better education of health and school professionals in identifying eating disorders.
“After our conversations, eating disorders were no longer limited to a statistic, but were represented by real human beings,” said Dena Larsen Gazeley, who has met with Arizona Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain. “What I enjoyed most was the moment of connection, comprehension and empathy that was shared between my story and the members of Congress and their staff.”
The law was inspired by Anna Westin, who died at age 21 after a long struggle with anorexia. After her death, her mother, Kitty Westin, spent 17 years fighting for legislation to mandate better insurance coverage for eating disorders.
Yet, despite the passage of the law in December 2016, many of its provisions haven’t been implemented yet. During the April 24 meetings, the group will remind legislators of the urgency of fully implementing the law, particularly training health professionals to identify eating disorders and intervene.
One Rosewood alumni found that almost everyone she spoke to knew someone who struggled with an eating disorder. “Each aide had a personal connection to eating disorders. They were genuinely interested in learning more, asked questions, and were fully engaged,” said Ashley Law. “It ignited my passion even further to continue to raise awareness and fight for those still struggling. It was truly inspiring.”
Added Cheyenne: “I felt as if I was finally heard for the first time in my life concerning these issues connected with my eating disorder, and since doing this, it has opened up a different side of me to share so much more with others that I hadn’t shared before.”
Rosewood alumni also enjoyed meeting and networking with other participants who have walked a similar path with eating disorders and are now using their experiences to advocate for those who are struggling. “Those halls represented something more than just bills or Congress members. It was bigger than me. It was an immense honor to be there to share my experience, but to also see and meet and hear all the powerful stories of true courage and bravery,” said Winter Groeschl. “The souls who have fought and won one day at a time against their eating disorders. It was a privilege to stand with them and share our truth.”
You don’t have to go to D.C. to participate in National Advocacy Day! Use the Eating Disorders Coalition’s online legislative tool to quickly and easily send a message to your U.S. Representative and Senator to support eating disorders research and treatment. The more messages received by members of Congress that day, the greater the impact! You can choose to lend your support to specific bills that the coalition is advocating for, or compose your own message.
Kim Kardashian or Gwen Stefani? Women and Men Disagree on “Perfect” Female Body, How Far to Go to Achieve Ideal Physique
New Survey Finds Men More Demanding Than Women of Themselves, Partners When it Comes to Physical Appearance
Phoenix, Ariz. – March 23, 2018 – Men and women across the U.S. agree that the ideal male body type would be similar to that of soccer superstar David Beckham, according to a January 2018 study conducted for Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. But there’s a difference of opinion when it comes to the perfect female body. Women describe their perception of the perfect body as being like singer Gwen Stefani, while men prefer women to have more curves (a la Kim Kardashian), the Rosewood study uncovered.
The new survey, conducted for Rosewood by Ipsos Public Affairs, polled 1,000 Americans over the age of 18 and found that while most men (55%) and women (54%) consider an “athletic physique” to be the perfect male body type, the sexes are divided when it comes to the perfect female body. In fact, nearly half (49%) of women think women with an “athletic physique” reach perfection, while 38% of men say “a woman with curves” is their ideal.
4 out of 5 Men and Women Unhappy With Their Bodies, Survey Says
When thinking about their own appearance, most respondents (79%) admit they are unhappy with how their own body looks at times. This discontent is most common when looking in a mirror (37%), when at the beach in a bathing suit (32%), or when shopping for clothes (31%). How far Americans are willing to go to change their bodies differs by gender, the survey found. Men are three times more likely than women to say they would be willing to exercise to the edge of their physical limit every day, even if they have to endure pain (23% vs. 8%, respectively). Nearly one in 10 (9%) men admit they’d be willing to take performance-enhancing drugs to achieve perfection, compared to only 2% of women.
What’s more, men are more likely to make sacrifices to achieve their ideal body. The survey found that although women are slightly more likely to give up deep fried foods (49% of women vs. 41% of men) or alcohol (45% of women vs. 37% of men) in order to obtain the ‘perfect’ body, men are more likely to give up everyday comforts, such as:
social media (38% vs. 29% of women)
their pets (12% vs. 4%)
their job or career (7% vs. 4%)
their home (6% vs. 0%)
a relationship with someone they love (4% vs. 1%)
financial security (4% vs. 1%)
their physical or emotional health (3% vs. 0%)
“When men and women start considering ‘whatever it takes’ to reach some unrealistic ideal of the perfect body, you’re getting into a dangerously risky place,” said Dr. Dena Cabrera, executive clinical director for Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders and co-author of the book, ‘Mom In The Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy.’ “Even with the fairly low percentages of these survey results, it’s unhealthy for anyone to go so far as to push their bodies to the point of pain, abuse performance-enhancing drugs or give up perfectly healthy aspects of their lives in order to achieve a certain body. It’s particularly concerning men are more willing to endure such extremes, given that men are already less likely to seek treatment than women if their behavior extends to an eating disorder.”
Many Men Want Women to Take “Extreme Measures” to Achieve a ‘Perfect Body’
Just as alarming: According to Rosewood’s survey, men are more likely than women to want their partner to take extreme measures in order to achieve the perfect body: exercise to the edge of their physical limits every day regardless of pain (13% of men vs. 5% of women), skip meals (5% vs. 1%), take performance-enhancing drugs (5% vs. 2%), consume laxatives (3% vs. 0%), or throw up after eating (3% vs. 0%).
“Women are already under so much pressure to look as thin as models and actresses or as fit as professional athletes, thanks to Photoshopped images in the media, societal pressure and their own perceptions of what female beauty is,” Cabrera said. “It’s disconcerting to think their male partners could be adding to this pressure by expecting women to endure unhealthy extremes to look a certain way.”
Not only should men and women not engage in the potentially damaging behaviors referenced in Rosewood’s survey, Cabrera concludes, but they should also pay less attention to the bodies of celebrities, which are often manipulated with photo-editing software or achieved through extreme exercise with personal trainers. “Attempting to look like Kim Kardashian or David Beckham is not a realistic goal,” Cabrera said. “Americans’ obsession with looking like celebrities and professional athletes is leading to unhealthy behaviors, and we need to change the perception of beauty before these behaviors progress to conditions such as eating disorders.”
To combat the prevalence of body dissatisfaction in the U.S. and the unhealthy behaviors developing as a result, Cabrera recommends attending a local American National Nutrition Month event, forming healthy habits of regular, moderate exercise and eating well-balanced, nutritious meals. If you suspect you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, Cabrera recommends getting screened by a qualified health professional. “We can all help change the conversation around body image in the U.S.,” Cabrera said. “And we can all help our loved ones get help if they take their attempts at perfection too far.”
Despite a wave of Hollywood films, TV specials and books focusing on the potentially deadly health risks presented by eating disorders, a new study reveals that many Americans don’t view anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other eating disorders as the life-threatening mental illnesses they are.
More than one in three (39%) Americans surveyed believe that eating disorders are just a cry for attention or a person “going through a phase.” This statistic jumps to 50% when just asking men, versus 29% of women.
More than one in 10 (13%) believe that eating disorders are not serious – that they are a lifestyle choice or about vanity.
A small percentage, 5% of survey respondents, report that they would consider a potential dating partner with an eating disorder as “attractive.”
Twice as many survey respondents say they would stop dating someone suffering from a mental illness (71%), compared to those who say the same of dating someone struggling with an eating disorder (38%), suggesting Americans view eating disorders as less serious than other mental illnesses.
“Eating disorders are among the deadliest of all mental illnesses,” counters Dr. Dena Cabrera, executive clinical director for Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. “Without treatment, up to 20 percent of people with serious eating disorders die. And yet, most people with eating disorders don’t seek treatment – some feel they can recover on their own; many others fear the stigma that our society has placed on the disease. To save lives, this survey reveals that it’s time we change the way America looks at eating disorders.”
In particular, the Rosewood study found potentially dangerous misconceptions about eating disorders and men:
43% of respondents believe that eating disorders are very rare in men; whereas, “At some point in their lives, 10 million men in the United States will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder,” said Cabrera, who has been treating men with eating disorders for the past six years. “Anorexia is now being diagnosed in boys as young as eight, and 40 percent of those with binge-eating disorder are male.”
If they suspected a male friend was struggling with an eating disorder, nearly one in five survey respondents reported they would tell that friend to “just eat something” (9%) or “do nothing at all,” because they’d feel it was none of their business or feared they would be rejected or resented for the intrusion (10%).
Men are significantly more likely to think that a person affected by an eating disorder is cured once back to a normal weight (25% of men versus 8% of women). In reality, “No one can define a person’s health by how much they weigh,” Cabrera said. “Regardless of media images portraying those with anorexia as emaciated, people with eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Even athletes who appear to be at peak fitness might be struggling with an eating disorder.”
“There are myriad ways we can all advance America’s understanding of how serious eating disorders are, and that there is help,” Cabrera said. “From learning the signs, symptoms and causes of eating disorders, to encouraging someone you may suspect of struggling with an eating disorder to get screened by a qualified health professional, we can all take steps to spread the word and, hopefully, save lives.”
About the Rosewood Study
These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted January 3 – 5, 2018 on behalf of Atlanta-based RiverMend Health, which operates Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders. For the survey, a sample of 1,004 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ± 3.5 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.
About Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders
Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders is one of the first and most experienced programs in the United States providing comprehensive care for those struggling with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and co-occurring disorders. Our treatment programs are led by renowned experts Dena Cabrera, Psy.D., CEDS, and Amelia Davis, M.D. Clients choose Rosewood for superior medical and psychiatric treatment, innovative therapies, individualized aftercare, alumni support and family involvement. With locations in Arizona and California, Rosewood offers all levels of care for men, women and adolescents, providing individualized treatment to match the unique needs of our patients.