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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


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)


The Minnesota Starvation Study Review by Tabitha Farrar


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To Share with Family and Friends

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