THE ARRAY OF DISORDERED EATING
A common theme within the manifestation of an eating disorder therapy is the development of a connection between self-esteem, self-value, and body image. Although these are prominent features of eating disorders, these should not be deemed as the only things which constitute an eating disorder, where many such as Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), Pica, and Orthorexia usually don’t have anything to do with body image.
Many people fail to discuss these types of disorders, drowning out the very needed attention each of them deserves. And with a lack of discussion, comes misunderstanding and misinformation regarding the nature of such eating disorders. It paints a monolithic image of who can have eating disorders, which damages the health of many who should seek services for their disorder since they often prevent themselves from getting the help they need due to having been told to believe people like themselves can’t have eating disorders.
AVOIDANT RESTRICTIVE FOOD INTAKE DISORDER (ARFID)
This disorder is marked by a persistence of not meeting adequate nutrition (without intention). It usually begins with being particular of what food one eats, and often restricts one from eating many types of food.
It goes much deeper than just being picky about eating however; like many disorders, it must be emphasized how intrusive these behaviors are within one’s life. It disrupts one’s life and is beyond a childish pickiness (even though it has been found that pickiness in childhood may develop into ARFID, but it is a precursor, and not the disorder itself).
Many times other disorders and illnesses overlap with ARFID, where those on the autism spectrum and other intellectual disabilities experience a higher likelihood of developing ARFID. Many people may experience a concurrent anxiety-disorder when developing ARFID as well.
Brought to the public eye through shows such as My Strange Addiction, Pica is the continued consumption of items and substances that aren’t food; people can ingest products such as dirt, drywall, wood, hair, and etc.
Many times, Pica occurs with illnesses which impair one’s functioning (such as being on the autism spectrum, intellectual disabilities, schizophrenia, and etc) to explain the erratic behavior. However, it can also occur if one is anemic or malnourished, and their body may go to great lengths to quench their nutritional needs. In both cases, Pica is extremely harmful to the body as one can presume.
This eating disorder develops as a fixation to be healthy and to constantly monitor the ingredients within food. It treads the fine line of being concerned with body image or not. However, many experts have agreed that the concern is focused upon what enters the body rather than the body itself. Misconceptions include that they eat healthy to look good, but that would mean that health is aligned with a specific way to look.
Orthorexia is thus more compulsive like anorexia and bulimia, where one has an uncontrollable urge to monitor their eating to be extremely healthy and clean, along with this overlapping into one’s life such as becoming enthralled with healthy lifestyle blogs, pages, and public figures. Orthorexia is more about the control of what one eats, rather than how much (if at all) as seen with other compulsive eating disorders like anorexia.
AYANA AND Eating Disorders TREATMENT
Our emphasis on diversity extends itself not only to our clientele, but also the disorders we want our eating disorders therapists to be able to treat. We find it imperative that we provide services to those who have had their disorder invalidated many times and are often less discussed than others. We hope to provide therapists who can tackle these disorders with nuance and who understand the many factors which affect patients, which include the sociocultural factors that are rarely understood for those coming from minority communities.