#endED Recap with @BEDAorg

Marci Anderson - Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thanks to all that joined our #endED Twitter chat this Wednesday with @BEDAorg as we talked about weight stigma. For those of you that missed it, here were some of the "highlights."

(If you don't know about Twitter, the @ symbol is the way a username is signified on Twitter. The # before a word makes the word searchable in Twitter.)

Q1a: How has #weightstigma affected you or someone you know?
@MarshaHudnall Seems like #weightstigma affects almost everyone I know. Creates dissatisfaction with life and distracts from what's important.
@JanetZimmerman research suggest #weightstigma increases body dissatisfaction and can lead to disordered eating behaviors

Q1b: How has #weightstigma affected your or their own ED journey?
@CounselorMusing Can lead to an increase in stress/anxiety/depression, can harm relationships, and can lead to isolation
@mmarzipan My least favorite #weightstigma aspect is when people ignore the mental health aspect of weight/body politics.
@marciRD Many people invalidate the severity of their #eatingdisorder if they feel they don't "look" a certain way.

Q3 What have you done recently when you recognize a thought that is stigmatizing?
@BEDAorg We must begin to each look within. I have my own stigmatizing thoughts about myself and others at times.
@VoiceinRecovery I catch it in a net & usually say WTF and throw it out. Weird but instant thoughts dont define me. I KNOW what I stand for
@mmarzipan Stop. Process. Think: who is this comment really about? Realize that it's NOT about me. Move on.
@BEDAorg We must begin to each look within. I have my own stigmatizing thoughts about myself and others at times. 

Q4 How can the eating disorders community better recognize and address stigmatization based on size?
@akaMemily I think it's helpful to look past appearance differences & see the internal similarities & shame found in EDs regardless of dx
@BEDAorg #weightstigma interferes in the treatment of eds. In the BED population, the ed is often put aside to focus on weight loss.
@BEDAorg Nurses in study: 31% would prefer not to take care of obese patients, 24% agreed that obese patients “repulsed” them
@BEDAorg There are studies showing that #weightstigmakeeps people from getting proper physical & mental health care
@mmarzipan Q4: not assume that someone of a certain size isnt suffering. Eating disorders manifest differently in people

Q5 How does #weightstigma contribute to body image issues?
@castlewoodtc Neg Body image is deeper than societal prejudice, but prejudice breeds discontent with oneself.
@BEDAorg I feel we cannot talk about body image issues without first acknowledging that weight stigma fuels them.
@MarshaHudnall #weightstigma makes anything outside the societal ideal unacceptable. and the societal ideal is for the most part underachievable 
@BodywiseProgram I think too we need to challenge our own eyes; expand our ideas about beauty to include all sizes/ages/colors...... #weightstigma
@marciRD When a single body size/shape is presented as acceptable, it is easy for false assumptions and negative self-image to grow

Q6 How do we best address those who believe that a person’s worth & will are based on that individual’s size?
@marciRD Make a list of the top 10 things you love abt someone you love. Be surprised if includes size/shape of their body.
@MarshaHudnall Modeling is one of the most effective ways to promote change. "Be the change we wish to see." 

@mmarzipan  Relentless compassion - those people are a product of their experience. Educate, breathe, and remember it's not about YOU

Q7 How do we keep all people-of-size from being bullied and discriminated against in a society that equates thinness and health?
@ScritchfieldRD it starts w/ us - being authentic, we have to use our voices, find our tribes of supporters, and believe in a better world #endED
@mmarzipan We can't. But we CAN create safe, nonjudgmental, loving spaces and live our lives by not buying into the bias.
@BEDAorg After a lifetime, I have learned to accept my body today as it is and each day this opens the door to something new.

Join BEDA during #weightstigma awareness week Sept 26-30. www.bedaonline.com to continue to spread the word! 

Also, check out @VoiceinRecovery's blog carnival on weight stigma. It is an awesome resource.

About #EndED
The goal of #endED is to bring anyone and everyone together who cares about ending eating disorders. My hope is to end the silence and myths about eating disorders, create a place for honest and informed discussion, while offering hope and encouragement. The next chat will be on 10/19 with Michelle May. Find her on Twitter at @EatWhatYouLove!


#EndED Twitter Chat: Weight Stigma with BEDA

Marci Anderson - Sunday, September 18, 2011

Our next #endED Twitter chat is Wed, September 21st at 8:30pm EST with @BEDAorg to talk about about weight stigma.

You might be asking what exactly is weight stigma? Weight stigma is bullying, teasing, negative body language, harsh comments, discrimination, or prejudice based upon a person’s body size. Weight Stigma is something that shames and hurts many people (of all shapes and sizes) and it is time to spread an awareness of how harmful it is to all and talk about it. 

About BEDA
Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) was founded to help those who have binge eating disorder, their friends and family, and those who treat the disorder. BEDA provides individuals who suffer from eating disorders with the recognition and resources they deserve to begin a safe journey toward a healthy recovery. To learn more about BEDA check out: http://www.bedaonline.com/

About #EndED
The goal of #endED is to bring anyone and everyone together who cares about ending eating disorders. My hope is to end the silence and myths about eating disorders, create a place for honest and informed discussion, while offering hope and encouragement.

RSVP on Facebook and we hope to you join in!



Marci Anderson - Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today marks a tragic day in America’s history. However, 9/11 is also a day that causes me to think about gratitude. So I felt inspired to share a piece of gratitude from a client of mine. I’ll be honest, when I’m in a sad or downright rotten mood, making a list of things I’m grateful for isn’t my first go-to activity. So it may be handy to have gratitude lists around all the time. You never know when you may need them the most! Below is an example of a writing exercise that relates to body image, but you can of course use the idea in any way you choose.

I’m grateful for my hair which dries naturally curly and doesn’t require a blow dryer to get ready.

I’m grateful for my eye sight which allows me to explore the beauty of the world.

I’m grateful for my shoulders which carry my heavy backpack day in and day out.

I’m grateful for my heart which pumps sure and strong when I run to catch my bus or am practicing yoga.

I’m grateful for my arms which allow me to hold my niece and nephew.

I’m grateful for my hands which are my tools for all of my creative energy.

I’m grateful for toosh which is nice and padded and allows me to feel comfy even when sitting on the ground (plus it’s awfully pinchable!).

Do you have any body parts that you feel particular grateful for? Why?


Connecting to Ourselves: Tuning out the Shoulds

Marci Anderson - Saturday, August 27, 2011

First off, I want to say that tuning out the shoulds and tuning into our body’s needs when it comes to fuel is a process and journey. There will be some ups and downs along the way, but the longer that you tune out what you “should” be doing and view eating in a self-care, nourishing manor, the more freedom you will start to feel in your journey with food and your body. The longer you practice paying attention to your body the more you will connect with yourself and your needs, food and otherwise.

So, what does tuning out the “shoulds” mean when it comes to healthful eating? Here are a few principles that I came up with through my journey of paying attention to my body’s needs and health.

1) Tune out what healthful foods you “should” eat and listen to YOUR body’s palate (aka what healthful foods you ENJOY eating). Healthful eating includes trying new foods but also tuning into your palate. You don’t have to eat lima beans or whatever foods you do not care for to be healthy! There are plenty of other fruits and vegetables out there. Focusing on adding healthful foods you enjoy (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts) to your eating allows you to connect with your body and keeps healthy eating from being a dirty word. It’s not about perfection- it is about learning YOUR body’s needs.

2) Tune out the “shoulds” of anytime you are feeling deprived when it comes to eating. A lovely RD, Julie Dillion, tweeted this the other day: dieting doesn't = wellness. Nourishing without deprivation is ticket to #health. I could not have said this better if I tried. So often, we hear that we need to “eat better” or discipline ourselves or have more self control around food. We can try to force ourselves into “eating right” or choosing healthful foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, etc.). But, this usually backfires just like dieting does. I tell people all the time that I have learned that the only “diet” I want to be on is one that I can live the rest of my life doing, and this means for me that I don’t feel deprived, focus on health and good fuel, use food to keep my energy up, and focus on nourishing my body (which does include sweets sometimes!). Through tuning into my body and not the “shoulds” or deprivation, I have learned that one of the most healthful and satisfying things is leaving a meal energized and not stuffed. Through the process of intuitive eating and no deprivation, I have gotten to this place because I have learned that I enjoy the feeling of being “satisfied” after a meal best, and my body is ok with this since it knows I will honor my hunger when it comes again.

3) Tune out how much you “should” eat (based upon what other people are eating) and listen to your body’s hunger/fullness.
We all have different energy needs. Our energy needs can be very different from other people (this hopefully is not a surprise!) and our own energy needs fluctuate throughout our lives. Tuning out the shoulds means trying not to compare what you eat to what other people eat. There are always going to be people who need more food or less food than you, but ultimately your body knows best and it will tell you through hunger and fullness. For example, I am a tall, active person and my body needs a good amount of fuel throughout the day. I used to feel ashamed of the fact that I would eat more than other girls and went through a period where I was trying to eat what I felt like my body “should” need instead of listening to hunger. This deprivation period was eventually followed by a period of overeating, and I have learned that in the end my body knows best and will tell me how much food it needs.

True health comes from appreciating our bodies and wanting to take care of them and nourish them. Tuning into our bodies is learning our body’s unique signs of hunger and fullness and feeling confident in our body’s ability to tell us what it needs. You see we can be told eat your fruits and vegetables, move more, don’t overeat, etc. But, none of these things will be lasting if they don’t stem from a desire within oneself to care for his/her body. So, are you tuning into the “shoulds” or tuning into your beautiful body and its unique needs? I hope we can all learn to cherish what our bodies allows you to do, care for them in a way that helps us live life fully, and nourish them to give us health and energy!

Note: Connecting to Ourselves is a monthly column written by Janet Zimmerman. Janet will be writing about a wide variety of topics to help you connect with the best ways to take care of YOU! Janet is a dietetic student, positive body image advocate, and intuitive eating promoter. You can find Janet on twitter @JanetZimmerman where she loves tweeting yummy recipes, positive quotes, and mindful tweets.

Guest Post: A Letter to my Hair

Marci Anderson - Thursday, August 25, 2011

Elizabeth is a RD-to-be who hopes to change the world-one self-loving thought at a time! She loves spreading this message in person, through social media, and on her blog Guiltless.

Dear Hair,

Thanks for covering my not-attractive-when-bald head. Thanks for blowing in the breeze, keeping my head warm in the snow, and obeying when I pull you up into a tight ponytail or bun. I haven't always, but right now, I really like you. And I want to say thanks.

Thanks for being red and curly (just like dad's!) when i was a little tyke.

Thanks for making my sister and I look adorably innocent for a period of time, while you were straight and blond.

Thanks for enduring endless knots and "ratsnests" as I forget about brushing you while I played in the woods, and dirt, getting quite a bit of sap stuck in you.

I now understand that below is not your fault. Curly, frizzy hair was new to me and my mother (thanks puberty) and I really didn't know what to do with you. So i brushed you. Poor decisions. (as evidenced below. am i really publishing this?)

Thanks for enduring awkward tween/teen years as I pulled bangs out of pony tails, experimented with straightening and just generally didn't know what the heck to do with you.

Thank you for being curly. Thank you for letting the sun give my strawberry-blonde locks highlights, which look better than any professional can do. Thanks for enduring the occasional straightener. I'm doing that much less now if you noticed. I've embraced my curls. Thanks for not extending the 10 minutes it takes for me to get ready every morning, by requiring that you be blown dry, or straightened or curled. Thanks for getting ready by air.

We've had our good days and our bad days, and it's been an off-and-on relationship. It's a long time coming, but I can now for sure say that i love you hair, so Thank you.


Do you have a love or hate relationship with your hair? are you pro-dying/ curling/ straightening or au naturale? please do tell!

#endED Twitter Chat with Andrea Owen

Marci Anderson - Saturday, August 13, 2011

Save the date! Wednesday, August 17th I'll be tweeting with my guest expert Andrea Owen. We'll be talking about practical solutions to staying sane and maintaing a positive body image in the summer months! Andrea is a professional life coach and speaker. She is passionate about empowering women and girls to value their character and feel beautiful by manifesting respect and love for themselves first and foremost. She has helped hundreds of people manage their inner-critic to break through and live their most kick-ass life.

Follow @marciRD & @andrea_owen on twitter and the hashtag #ENDED at 8:30pm EST on 8/17.

Not sure how Twitter works? Check out this primer. Let us know you're coming on the Facebook event page.

About: The goal of #endED is to bring anyone and everyone together who care about ending eating disorders. My hope is to end the silence and myths about eating disorders, create a place for honest and informed discussion, while offering hope and encouragement.

You can find Andrea here!
Twitter: andrea_owen
Web/blog: www.yourkickasslife.com
FB: www.facebook.com/yourkickasslife

Here's what we'll be chatting about:
In what ways does a negative self-image keep a person from living a full life?

As temperatures rise, body image issues tend to escalate as well. What are events and situations that tend to be most challenging?

Many women dread picking out a swimsuit. Any tips for swimsuit or summer clothes shopping? 

What are practical things people can do to have fun at BBQs, beach and pool parties despite feeling body conscious?

Body and weight talk tends to come up in social situations (i.e. I hate my thighs, I wish I could get a tummy tuck). Any ideas on how to deal with uncomfortable body talk?

Negative body image seems to be acceptable in our society, how can a person know whether their food and body struggles require more support such as outpatient counseling, residential care, etc.


Does This Uterus Make Me Look Fat?

Marci Anderson - Friday, August 05, 2011

How many advertisements and articles have you seen in your lifetime that sell you the idea of getting a "flat belly?" I've seen a zillion and I'm sick of it. In fact, I was brewing up a blog post about it and telling one of my clients about it. We were talking about the female anatomy and how as women our middles hold digestive organs (think stomach, liver, and intestines) as well as reproductive organs (think ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and uterus). Plus we need extra padding to protect all of those vital organs! A woman's belly IS NOT MEANT TO BE FLAT.

So as I was getting all worked up about this, my client informed me that she already wrote a blog post about this very issue! And it's even better than what I could have written myself. Gratefully, she has allowed me to share it with you. I am sharing part of it, but if you'd like to read it in its fabulous entirety, check it out here. Plus she has other helpful musings on how to be media savvy in our often toxic culture. Enjoy.

Thanks to photoshop, it's very easy for women to forget what a "real" woman's body looks like. My mother used to refer to it as her Kangaroo Pouch. The endless messaging of "targeting those hard to reach lower abdominals" in our core workouts, combined with the airbrushing out of any softness in a woman's lower belly has completely eradicated an all important fact from our minds - Women. Have. A. Uterus.

What's cool is that it helps us do all sorts of neat things, like ovulation, so that we can someday make some cute looking babies. Let's take a look at this before and after photo of Serena Williams shall we?

Before Severe Uterus Castration and After

See now I'm almost standing on my computer chair ready to deliver a tyrannical speech on "Saving the Uterus". Firstly, Serena is an extremely fit and strong woman, with abs that could probably survive one of those Acme weights or pianos falling on top of them.

Secondly, and this is key, she is a woman. By smoothing out (and airbrushing in) her stomach area, you are essentially removing that which makes her female, and you are perpetuating a myth that there is such a thing as a concave lower belly that occurs naturally, and not through extreme starvation. In essence, anorexia does the same thing to a woman as the photoshopped picture above - it removes the womanhood from the female, and creates a little girl. It removes any purposefulness, other than to be looked at through (or consumed by) the male gaze.

In the depths of my eating disorder, I lost the ability to menstruate. While of course women would kill to not go through the millions of annoyances of having a monthly cycle, for me it was the ultimate wake up call. I started having dreams of babies - dreams and nightmares. Babies floating on clouds, babies screaming and crying and me running through tangled woods to try and find them, babies who were hungry and I could find no food to soothe them. I recalled watching my mother try to conceive, the failure of her systems to operate properly bringing her miscarriage after miscarriage, watching as my father had to inject her with shots of infertility drugs, watching as she turned into a skeleton of herself as she cried in her room while others became pregnant when she did not. I remembered the joy in her eyes when my sister was finally born.

Suddenly, I wanted to fight for my uterus.

Now, I'm constantly amazed and astounded at my body. When I pay attention, I learn something new from it every day. I notice how my uterus ascends upwards after I ovulate in preparation for a baby (that will definitely not be coming anytime soon, but still!). I notice that this makes my stomach stick out for the two weeks prior to my period. And instead of lamenting my "kangaroo pouch", I thank it. I send it warm thoughts on how grateful I am that it is working properly. I continue to nourish my body and I recognize that underneath all the photoshopping, all women, everywhere, have a uterus.

Even if you don't want kids, isn't that a comforting thought?


Client Spotlight: Happiness Starts Now, Not in 10 Pounds

Marci Anderson - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I talk about body image and weight a lot. Our culture values thinness (sometimes under the guise of health) and places one image of beauty on a pedestal (thin, lean, blonde, Caucasian). Consequently, a lot of women find themselves lost in self-loathing as they don’t seem to measure up. Rather than putting their energy into positive self-care, they put themselves on unsustainable diets and exercise regimens then blame themselves for not being able to “stick with it.” (Why not blame the regimen, I wonder?)

I often hear women say that they put themselves through this because they simply cannot be happy or go after their dreams until they lose weight. If they lose weight, they’ll have the confidence (or whatever else) they need to take their dream vacation or go after a new job. I’ve got a news flash for you- life is passing you by!

A client of mine recently wrote this journal entry and I received her permission to share it.

“Lately I’ve been trying so hard to convince myself that things will get better once I’m thinner. But the past actually shows me that this is totally unrealistic. When I was thinner, I was too hungry, too busy at the gym, and too obsessed to be happy.”

Don’t lose yourself chasing after a number on the scale. Live your life now. Sure that includes moderate, healthy, balanced nutrition and exercise (and by the way, your healthy weight will naturally follow on its own). I’m not suggesting you abandon taking good care of yourself. In fact, happiness is a by-product of good self-care. But I am suggesting that life is so much more than your dream weight. It’s about relationships, experiences, and moments that may pass you by if you’re too focused on the calorie count to enjoy it.

Be Big

Marci Anderson - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

*Note: the post below is written by a client of mine, who happens to be extremely passionate about swimming. This article (in a longer form) appeared in the July/August 2011 New England Masters newsletter. She shared it with me and I was extremely eager to share it with you. Enjoy.

Recently at the pool I admired a guy swimmer’s newly peroxided hair. The guys around him said, “Yeah, we call him the Blond Baller now.” “Argh!” I screamed. For weeks I had been trying to come up with a female swim power phrase, the equivalent for “macho.” Our language doesn’t have many, or any, female swim power words.

The Blond Baller is a superfast sprinter, so I assumed the “Baller” part of his nickname referred to his fast (swim) stroke. I posted my female swim power language dilemma on the US Masters swim forum and got some interesting suggestions, many of them, ironically, from men—Piscine Goddess, Aqua Aphrodite, and Buff Babes—but none met my criteria of using body language words to convey power. I had my own pitiful list: Ball Busters (later on that one), Water Sweepers (thinking of housekeepers), Power Surgers, Tough-Breasted. Bleah.

Meanwhile, another thread on the masters swim forum was talking about Janet Evans’s possible return to Olympic swimming. A few guy masters swimmers close to her age began worrying that she would be able to beat them. One guy posted, “I used to think I was safe from being ‘chicked’ by masters women roughly near my age in distance races.” Another guy then suggested the term “outchicked” as a way to describe a powerful female swimmer, but this suggested a relational kind of power (aka “Ball Buster”) rather than pure female power.

I found some good nicknames for Olympic female swimmers: Faith Leech, a 1956 Australian Olympic freestyler, was known as the “Flying Fish” because of her streamlined length and “elegant” technique. Mary T. Meagher was known as “Madame Butterfly,” and AP quotes described Janet Evans as “a Force of Nature,” “a whirling dervish of a swimmer,” “perpetual motion.” There was one female-only suggestion from the masters swim forum that I sort of liked: “bitchin,’” as in “bitchin’ sprinter” (though it still has a slightly negative ring).

In the back of my mind, though, I kept thinking “Big Girls.” At a lot of swim meets, the really powerful female swimmers are big. Big shoulders, big arms, big backs, big quads, big muscles overall. They aren’t the majority, but they aren’t the minority either. I think of swimming as a sport where it’s OK to be “sized.” Big Women doesn’t do it for me—it’s gotta be Big Girls, to tie in to the link from childhood on that girls are supposed to be small. Petite. Svelte. Even if very strong, you can’t look it, else you risk being called manly or compared to former East German steroid-enhanced female Olympic swimmers.

I’ll take Evans’s “Force of Nature” any day, but I also want to say to every girl and woman who swims (or does any type of physical activity for that matter): Be Big. Take up a lot of space. Be a Big Force of Nature, a Big Whirling Dervish, a Big Powerful Bitchin’ Swimmer who doesn’t care about “outchicking” guys, but just wants to move with power and strength.

Be a Big Girl and be proud of it.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media: Tools for Eating Disorder Recovery and Positive Body Image

Marci Anderson - Sunday, July 17, 2011

*Please note, the article originally appeared in the Summer 2011 Behavioral Health Nutrition Dietetics Practice Group newsletter.

We live in a world where thin is glorified and unrealistic images of feminine beauty are plastered online, in print, and on TV. These images are hard to avoid and they present serious challenges for clients struggling with eating disorders and body image concerns. In the Spring 2011 issue of the BHN newsletter, Katie R. Gilder, RD wrote an article outlining the very real threat of “thinspiration” media that is widely available and easily accessible. “Thinspiration” websites, forums, and YouTube videos provide pro-eating disorder advice and support to those looking for it. Recent research from the University of Haifa showed that “the more teenage girls are involved in Facebook, the higher their risk of having a negative body image and developing eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia”(1). Additional research shows that idealistic images of female beauty effect mood, body dissatisfaction, and eating disorder recovery (2,3,4,5).

While social media presents challenges for those struggling with eating and body issues, a whole new world of eating disorder support and positive body image advocates exists online. Social media is defined as “the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue” (6). This article will highlight one client’s experience of integrating social media into her recovery as well as provide a list of tools and resources that clinicians may share with their clients.

One Client’s Journey
Kay has suffered from an eating disorder for eight years and has actively been pursuing treatment for her eating disorder for the past eight months. Three months ago Kay was “stuck”. She believed that she could not possibly accept her body the way it was and also thought she couldn’t continue along the same self-destructive path that brought her to my office. Additionally, she truly believed that every woman hated her body and lived on a diet. She once said, “Marci, you are the only woman I know that seems to have a happy relationship with food and believes it’s possible to reject society’s expectations of a perfect body.” Aside from me, she felt she had no positive food or body role model around her. I advised that feeling better about herself was going to take consistent work. And that if she wanted a shift in her recovery, she’d need to fill up on positive messaging, even if she didn’t yet believe it for herself. Kay decided to accept my challenge and we created a plan for the coming week. This is what we agreed on:
• Take a break from reading any websites, TV shows, or magazines that left her feeling worse about herself.
• Write one thing each day that she likes about herself, physical or not.
• Read a positive body image blog for 5 minutes each day.
• Do her best to follow her meal plan.

She came back to my office one week later and to my surprise and relief she was ecstatic. In addition to what we agreed on, she spent an hour each day reading positive body image blogs and bought a book on self-acceptance (Radical Acceptance by Rosie Molinary). This week became a turning point in Kay’s recovery. She was amazed that even though her body hadn’t changed, the way she spoke to and thought about herself did! Three months later, she and I continue to work on this project. Kay still has her struggles; she still has ups and downs. But rather than feeling stuck, she feels the grip of the eating disorder and self-hatred beginning to loosen. Hope and courage has replaced hopelessness and fear.

In Kay’s words:
“When I began the process of recovery, one of my biggest struggles was comparing me to others. I wanted to be "normal" in regards to my eating and body. But I didn't realize that normal is different for everyone! It's not the ideal body type that we see in mainstream media. I felt like I was surrounded by messages that counteracted my recovery. I felt like I couldn't escape the negative messaging about never being good enough in my own skin. When I reached a particularly low point I decided to actively seek out the messaging that I was looking for. I perused the web for blogs, websites, and twitter feeds for anything I could find that would help cultivate complete body and self acceptance. I couldn't believe the amount of information I found! Suddenly I was surrounded by people just like me, virtually, who were promoting and passing on the messages that I needed to keep me going on the path to recovery and self love. Now it's a daily ritual of mine to go through my newsfeed of positive messaging and journal about how I feel after reading them. It makes me feel like I have a community that is supporting me on a positive path, whereas I used to feel so alone in my struggles.”

Virtual Resources Offer Hope and Healing
I share this story, because as an eating disorder clinician I’ve experienced clients who feel trapped, not realizing that there are options to living a life of self-hatred. They are astounded and relieved to know that there is a huge community of people fighting their same struggle, raising a voice of hope and healing. While the social media scene may seem like a land mine for our clients, some of the best treasures are there for the taking, if only they knew where to look. Here are some favorite social media resources:

Pro-Recovery Virtual Communities
MentorConnect: www.mentorconnect-ed.org
Something Fishy: www.something-fishy
Voice-in-Recovery: www.voiceinrecovery.com

Positive Body Image Blogs
Adios Barbie: www.adiosbarbie.com
Body & Brood: www.bodyandbrood.com
Guiltless: www.iamguiltless.blogspot.com
Medicinal Marzipan: www.medicinalmarzipan.com
Nourishing the Soul: www.nourishing-the-soul.com
Rosie Molinary: www.rosiemolinary.com/blog
The Body Image Project: bodyimageproject.com
Operation Beautiful: operationbeautiful.com
Voice-in-Recovery: www.voiceinrecovery.com
Weightless on Psych Central: blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless

Twitter Chat Parties: they are a very fun and interactive way to chat about a specific topic. There are a couple of twitter chats specific to eating disorder recovery. This is a useful primer for anyone new to using Twitter chats (7).
#endED: a monthly chat on ending eating disorders. Typically the last Wednesday of every month at 8:30 EST. Visit www.facebook.com/marciRD, then click on past events to learn more.
#MHSM: a weekly Mental Health and Social Media Chat on Tuesdays at 9:00 EST.
#VIRChat: a weekly pro-recovery chat on Mondays at 9:00 EST. Visit www.voiceinrecovery.com to learn more.

Media Literacy Websites

When looking for research on the benefits of social media and its potential positive effects on eating disorder recovery and promotion of positive body image, two university studies published in the ‘90s looked at the effect of media on attitudes and behaviors regarding body image (8, 9). In 1998 JAMA published a consensus statement on interactive health communication (IHC) (10). Their conclusion was that the use of IHC had potential benefit to improve health, but they cautioned the IHC may also cause harm. Few applications have been evaluated. (10). It appears that no research has been published regarding IHC and social pressure on body image in the past 10 years, hence this is an area that deserves attention for future research.

The ADA Standards of Practice (SOP) and Standards for Professional Performance (SOPP) on disordered eating and eating disorders (DE & ED) are scheduled to be published in JADA August 2011 along with the updated position paper on eating disorders. These publications will be a welcome addition to support registered dietitians in effectively treating eating disorders. The field of dietetics, especially working in counseling clients with DE & ED is both an art and a science. As clinicians, we can benefit from having multiple tools in our tool box as we continue to do our part in offering our clients support, guidance, and hope for recovery from DE, ED and body image issues.

1. Link found between Facebook use and eating disorders. Available at http://www.jpost.com/Health/Article.aspx?ID=206145&R=R1. Accessed April 17, 2011.

2. Pinhas L, Toner BB, Ali A, Garfinkel PE, Stuckless N. The effects of the ideal of female beauty on mood and body satisfaction. Int J Eat Disord. 1999 Mar;25(2):223-6.

3. Field AE, Cheung L, Wolf AM, Herzog DB, Gortmaker SL, Colditz GA. Exposure to the mass media and weight concerns among girls. Pediatrics. 1999 Mar;103(3):E36.

4. Thomsen SR, McCoy JK, Williams M. Internalizing the impossible: anorexic outpatients' experiences with women's beauty and fashion magazines. Eat Disord. 2001 Spring;9(1):49-64.

5. Turner SL, Hamilton H, Jacobs M, Angood LM, Dwyer DH. The influence of fashion magazines on the body image satisfaction of college women: an exploratory analysis. Adolescence. 1997 Fall;32(127):603-14.

6. Social media as defined by Wikipedia. Available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media. Accessed April 17, 2011.

7. Tweeting With Your Twitter Community: How To Participate In A Twitter Chat. Available at
http://www.twitip.com/tweeting-with-your-twitter-community-how-to-participate-in-a-twitter-chat/. Accessed on May 1, 20118. Gleason NA. A New Approach to Disordered Eating—Using an Electronic Bulletin Board to Confront Social Pressure on Body Image. J Am Coll Health. 1995:44(2):78-80.

9. Rabak-Wagener J, Eickhoff-Shemek, J, Kelly-Vance, L. The Effect of Media Analysis on Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Body Image Among College Students. J Am Coll Health. 1998:47(1):29-35.

10. Robinson, T, et. al. An Evidence-based Approach to Interactive Health Communication: A Challenge to Medicine in the Information Age. JAMA. 1998:280(14):1264-1269.

About the Author: Marci E. Anderson is a dietitian in private practice in Cambridge, MA. She specializes in treating eating disorders and body image concerns. She blogs at www.marciRD.com and can be followed on Twitter @MarciRD. She created and hosts the monthly Twitter chat #endED which is dedicated to ending eating disorders through education, discussion, and support.