Conference afterthoughts (Eating Disorders and Obesity, 2018)

I have just spent amazing two days connecting and exchanging ideas about the prevention and treatment of eating disorders and obesity at the National Eating Disorders and Obesity Conference. What a joy it was to present our online course “Beat the Binge” and to discuss the issue of dysfunctional impulsivity in binge eating and impulsive overeating at this conference. What was particularly great about this conference is that we had a chance to be exposed to professionals from different disciplines and learn about support and treatment in a multidisciplinary environment.

  1. Notice if someone is in pain and struggling with an eating disorder.

For all professionals, it is important to ask, listen and observe, even if you are not working in the field of eating disorders and obesity research, prevention or treatment. Nicole Gibson reminded us that other people can play a significant role in noticing and reaching out to help a person who struggles with their eating issues or is developing a disorder, in order to let them know that they are not alone and help is available. If you are a teacher, counsellor, youth worker or in any other profession and notice that a young person might be struggling, reach out, help them learn that help is available.

  1. Eating disorders are complex; not one person or specialists holds all the answers.

It is important to remember how complex eating disorders are. Often there might be co-morbidities and complications that require a lot of support from different specialists, such as doctors, dieticians, nutritionists, counsellors, psychotherapists, and psychologists.

  1. When we talk about young children, we need to lead by example.

If you work with young kids or you have young kids, remember that it can take them up to 20 tries for their taste buds to get used to a new food. So don’t give up on introducing, but do not force it and avoid making food a reward for your kids. And pay attention to what you say about your likes and dislikes. Remember, if you keep saying that you hate bananas or you think broccoli is disgusting, your kids will pick up on it.

  1. Let’s change how we talk about eating disorders and obesity.

Whether we are discussing anorexia nervosa or a binge eating disorder, we need to be sensitive about the language we use and check some of the assumptions we or some other people might have. Some people might assume that strict food restrictions are followed for reasons of vanity or to look good, or that binge eating happens because of laziness and lack of motivation. People affected by an eating disorder often experience judgement, negative evaluation, discrimination and isolation. If we don’t change the way we talk about these issues, we make it even harder for people to reach out and to connect with us and ask for help.

  1. It is never too late to take steps to improve your health

We can change, we can get better, help is available. There are a number of resources available for people who might be living with an eating disorder or people who would like to support a person with an eating disorder. If you don’t know where to start, check out the Inside Out Institute for Eating Disorders and the Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders, as well as The Butterfly Foundation, where specialists’ counsellors can offer free information, screened referrals and brief counselling.

Similarly, at Impulsivity Online Project, we continue to find ways to support our clients to be in control of their impulsive overeating. We look at the latest research and treatment practices and make sure that we provide you with strategies and tools to help you to be in control of your eating habits.  Are you interested to learn more? Visit https://impulsivity.com.au/curriculum/beat-the-binge-control-your-impulsive-binge-eating/ .

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