Food Psych #178: The Truth About High-Weight Anorexia with Erin Harrop

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Weight-stigma researcher Erin Harrop joins us to discuss how anorexia is treated (or not) in people of different sizes, how diet culture and weight stigma influence treatment and recovery for disordered eating, the problem with the “atypical” anorexia label, how improving eating-disorder treatment in people with larger bodies can benefit everyone, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about what to do if you develop binge eating in recovery from restrictive eating behaviors.

Erin Harrop received her B.S. and MSW from the University of Washington, where she is currently a fourth-year doctoral student in social welfare. Her research interests concern eating disorders, substance abuse, and weight stigma. She sees weight-based discrimination as a critical, and often ignored, social justice issue, and her research agenda seeks to address this limitation by focusing on the systemic factors of weight stigma which impact the illness journeys of eating disorder patients. She employs an interpretive, critical feminist theory and anti-oppression lens to her work, as well as an explicit Health at Every Size® approach to the promotion of health behaviors. Her research is informed by her clinical experience as a medical social worker at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she has worked for the past five years. Erin recently was funded for two NIH TL1 Translational Research Training grants for her dissertation research with women who have atypical anorexia. Erin is also active in the student group, SWAG (Sizeism, Weightism Advocacy Group), which she co-founded in 2012. Find her online at facebook.com/erin.harrop.3

From now until New Year’s, we’re offering gift subscriptions to the Intuitive Eating Fundamentals course. It’s the perfect gift for someone looking for anti-diet inspiration, or put it on your wishlist so that others know to get it for you. For more information, visit christyharrison.com/gift.

This episode is brought to you by Poshmark, the fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion (including many plus-sized options!) Get $5 off your first purchase when you sign up with the invite code FOODPSYCH.

We Discuss:

  • “Intuitive cooking,” and how it helped to bring experimentation and joy to Erin’s relationship with food

  • Gendered messages around food

  • Diet culture, and how it steals our pleasure from food

  • Learning to trust our body’s desires for different foods

  • How diet culture and The Wellness Diet can twist our expectations of intuitive eating

  • The Restriction Pendulum

  • The role of Health At Every Size®, fat activism, and intuitive eating in Erin’s eating-disorder-recovery journey

  • Pushing beyond the “Recovery Diet”

  • How diet mentality and weight stigma amongst eating-disorder clinicians and treatment centers can hinder people’s recovery

  • Erin’s personal experiences in treatment as someone with anorexia in a lower-weight and higher-weight body

  • Why improving eating-disorder treatment for people in higher-weight bodies would improve treatment for everyone

  • Erin’s research on how anorexia is treated (or not) in people of different sizes

  • The reliance on weight in anorexia diagnoses, and how that is causing harm

  • How restriction, not weight loss or low weight, leads to the medical complications associated with anorexia

  • The delays and gaps in eating-disorder care

  • How our own biases can affect eating-disorder treatment and recovery

  • Why we shouldn’t make assumptions when people say that they’ve “restricted” or “binged”

  • How diet culture blurs the line between normal eating and disordered eating

  • Why we need to validate people’s problematic experiences with food

 

Resources Mentioned

Some of the links below are affiliate links. Affiliates or not, we only recommend products and services that align with our values.

  • Submit your questions for a chance to have them answered on the podcast!

  • My online course, Intuitive Eating Fundamentals, which includes monthly listener Q&A podcasts and access to my private Facebook support group. From now until New Year’s, we’re offering gift subscriptions! It’s the perfect gift for someone looking for anti-diet inspiration, or put it on your wishlist so that others know to get it for you. For more information, visit christyharrison.com/gift.

  • Erin’s Facebook page and email

  • This episode is brought to you by Poshmark, the fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion (including many plus-sized options!) Get $5 off your first purchase when you sign up with the invite code FOODPSYCH.

     

Listener Question of the Week

What can a person do if they’re still binge eating after they stop restricting their food? How can they accept their body while believing that they’ll gain weight eating so many calories? What are some less-obvious signs of disordered eating or thinking that can still lead to a feeling of deprivation? What’s the difference between physical and mental restriction? What’s the difference between diet culture and diet mentality? How are diet mentality and binge eating linked? Where can a person get support to overcome diet mentality and pursue eating-disorder recovery? How can a person tell whether they’re binge eating as a result of restriction or as a coping mechanism for difficult emotions? What are some ways that eating-disorder treatment can hinder recovery?

(Resources Mentioned: Anti-Diet, Health At Every Size, and Intuitive Eating Providers for Disordered-Eating Recovery, Food Psych® podcast episode 151 with Judith Matz)

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