News Archives

Eating Disorders: Hiding in Plain Sight

November 4, 2019

During assembly on Monday, November 4, Laura Bumberry and Cherie Massmann of Partners in Wellness spoke to students about eating disorders — dispelling myths, sharing common signs and offering tips for conversations with friends or family who might have an eating disorder. Bumbery is a licensed clinical psychologist; Massmann is a cognitive-behaviorally trained therapist. They were invited by KUTO, which will continue the ED conversation during a meeting at 8:15 am tomorrow in conference room #2.

Bumberry and Massmann showed a NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) video, "Marginalized Voices", which makes the case that people with eating disorders don't fall into one neat stereotype and that those with EDs who are from marginalized groups have a harder time accessing resources and support.

Bumberry and Massmann talked about who's the most vulnerable —  for instance, those with dieting behaviors, a family history of EDs or sensory sensitivities; or those who have been subject to some kind of trauma (e.g., bullying). Then they took on some common myths:

  • The highest rates of EDs appear in teenage girls and young women — While the majority of those suffering from EDs are female, LGBTQ+ and/or athletes, EDs impact a much broader and much more diverse population.
  • EDs are not treatable —  They are treatable, especially in the early stages.
  • Those with EDs are acting out of vanity — EDs do not stem from vanity but rather from a genetic predisposition and/or an attempt to cope with feelings.
  • EDs can be "seen" through changing performance in school and/or sports — EDs do not necessarily manifest in these ways ... the brain is the last to go.
  • EDs are not dangerous — EDs are very serious; 10 percent of those diagnosed will die.

They shared some common signs that a person might have an ED:

  • making excuses not to eat
  • eating tiny portions
  • limiting the types of food they'll eat, banning whole categories
  • taking pills, diet supplements, etc.
  • obsessively counting calories, reading labels, etc.
  • engaging in food rituals
  • binging
  • purging
  • having a distorted body image

They wound up their presentation explaining how to talk to a friend you suspect has an ED:

  • pick a good, private, calm time
  • explain why you're concerned 
  • be prepared for denial
  • be patient and supportive
  • be prepared to risk your friendship

and be sure that you DON'T reject your friend, comment on their appearance, shame them, or offer unsolicited advice or simple solutions.