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  • Writer's pictureJD Ouellette, Peer Coach

Eating Disorders 101 (and Toward a New Paradigm in Dealing with Metabolic Piece of Anorexia Nervosa)


Eating disorders are serious, genetic, biological, brain-based illnesses with a psychosocial component that seem to be tied to temperament. The release of findings from the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI) has introduced the label “metabo-psychiatric”, recognizing that metabolism plays a powerful role in the formation and maintenance of anorexia nervosa; this has profound impacts on nutrition and exercise both short and long-term. (Other diagnoses need to be studied – please participate in DNA and other studies; it is important we find both the commonalities and differences in various eating disorders to develop the most effective treatments.) It appears an eating disorder is triggered by a period of negative energy balance that may or may not result in weight loss. Many eating disorders begin with a diet and many do not- a stomach bug, surgery, wisdom teeth removal, training for a race, etc. are all common triggers. Eating disorders are not disorders of choice or vanity, or family dysfunction. Eating disorders occur across gender, ethnic and socioeconomic lines, in people of all ages, and appear to have been present in all cultures and throughout history. While co-occurring conditions frequently exist, that does not make them causal. Eating disorders are treatable with early, aggressive intervention (not widely available and a priority of family advocacy work globally) and recovery is always possible. Full nutritional rehabilitation from a health at every size perspective (honoring body diversity) is the first step in effective treatment, and weight stigma from family, treatment providers, and society is a common impediment. Families and those with eating disorders benefit from connecting with educated and successful peers for up-to-date information and support.

Hot Off the Press Research

How a Revolutionary Genetic Study Is Changing What We Know About Anorexia

Breaking Science News: The Latest Genetic Study of Anorexia Nervosa

Personal Reflections and What the ANGI Results Mean for Patients, Families, and Clinicians Today: Part 4

The Nine Truths about Eating Disorders


Dr. Erin Parks (University of California San Diego) on Brainstorms

JD Ouellette on Parenting a Child with an Eating Disorder Part 1 and Part 2

New Plates Podcast (Laura Collins): Why Include Parents During Eating Disorders Treatment


Dr. Lauren Muhlheim: Act Now

Parents to Parents: Anorexia: What We Wish We Had Understood and Going Sane

Eva Musby Video Series (multiple languages available)


How Monitoring Your Child’s Growth Charts Could Prevent an Eating Disorder

Negative Energy Balance: A Biological Trap for People Prone to Anorexia Nervosa

NEDA Parent Toolkit: Myths

Laura Collins: The Dangers of Anosognosia

Call It As You See It: Advice to Parents

Can FBT Strategies Be Used As a Guide to Early Intervention and Prevention

A Rambling Becky: They Have to Be Ready to Change

The Venus Flytrap and the Land Mine: Novel Tools for Treating Eating Disorders

The Minnesota Starvation Study Review by Tabitha Farrar

10 Things Parents Wish Educators Knew About Eating Disorders

Q: My Friend’s Child Was Just Diagnosed with an Eating Disorder: How Can I Help?

F.E.A.S.T. Family Guides


When Your Teen Has an Eating Disorder: Practical Strategies to Help Your Teen Recover from Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating by Lauren Muhlheim

Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia by Harriet Brown

Rewire, Rehabilitate, Recover!: Anorexia Recovery for the Determined Adult by Tabitha Farrar

To Share with Providers

Feed Your Instinct

Academy for Eating Disorders Medical Guide

Outcomes of an inpatient medical nutritional rehabilitation protocol in children and adolescents with eating disorders

Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A State of the Art Review (AAP)

Why Medical Complications Matter in Eating Disorders

To Share with Family and Friends

3 Ways to Support Parents Who Are Supporting their Child Through an Eating Disorder

She was 11, with an eating disorder, it took her mom to figure it out

One Spoonful at a Time

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