Athletes with Eating Disorders

Whether a competitive athlete or an individual with athletic hobbies, there is often a fine line between healthy fitness habits and compulsive eating disordered behaviors. Athletes in sports which emphasize body weight and size are at a higher risk for the development of eating disorders – specifically, body builders, wrestlers, gymnasts, dancers, and figure skaters are at highest risk. Other high-risk sports are those which emphasize a rigorous training regimen, a restrictive training diet, or encourage weight loss to enhance performance, which can trigger Anorexia and Bulimia. Typically, an athlete knows when their fitness habits have gone to an extreme – they are more likely to experience overuse injuries, they suffer performance problems due to malnutrition, or they have dangerous symptoms including fainting spells, heart arrhythmias, or heart attacks. Binge Eating Disorder can result in extreme weight fluctuations and dangerous changes in blood pressure, which can trigger aneurysms or strokes.  However, many athletes deny having an eating disorder, despite serious consequences.  Winning isn’t worth dying for – and our customized treatment programs at Positive Pathways can help you excel as an athlete, free of eating disorders! Learn more about Athletes with Eating Disorders, and treatment options at Positive Pathways:

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Are You Dying To Win? Athletes with Eating Disorders Symptoms:

  • exercising every day, sometimes more than once a day, with no days off

  • forcing oneself to complete workouts despite fatigue or injury

  • obsessive focus on training details and workout plans

  • exercising substantially more than suggested by a training regimen or coach

  • mood directly linked to performance during workouts

  • feeling agitated and irritable if a workout must be cut short or missed

  • compensating for a shorter workout by eating less, or working our harder the following day

  • using exercise to burn calories as compensation for calories consumed

  • missing other responsibilities and becoming socially isolated due to exercise patterns

  • obsessive recording of body weight, body fat and/or body measurements

  • mood directly linked to the achievement of targeted weight/size goals

  • attempting to adhere to an overly rigid and restrictive meal plan

  • chronic feelings of hunger, fatigue, headaches, weakness

  • signs of malnutrition:  including hair loss, dry skin, brittle nails, loss of menses in women

  • patterns of binge eating, sometimes followed by extreme restriction or excessive exercise

  • self-induced vomiting or abuse of laxatives/diuretics as a means of controlling weight

  • a sense of “exercise addiction,” feeling out of control of ones focus on diets, workouts, weight, size

  • medical issues: fainting spells, heart arrhythmias, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm… SUDDEN DEATH

EDIT Treatment for Athletes with Eating Disorders:

  • Customized EDIT Treatment Plan for your specific needs — targeted to address your sport and training requirements, and your type of eating disorder (Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder)
  • Body Image Therapy can be extremely helpful for athletes in sports which emphasize body weight, shape, and/or appearance — also, to facilitate acceptance of any recovery-related changes in body shape/size
  • Intuitive Exercise Experiential Sessions can allow for restoration of the “fun of fitness,” and reconnection with your body’s intuitive awareness of the type and amount of exercise it truly needs; this can create a healthy balance with the demands of intense training regimens
  • Nutrition Counseling can also be incorporated, to enhance your knowledge of foods which can support healthy athletic training, while addressing any eating disorder myths; you can also experience Intuitive Eating Training as a way to enhance mindfulness with meals
  • Family Therapy is also an essential part of our recommended treatment, where you can invite your athletic coach to be a part of your “recovery team” — in addition, you may also consider sessions with your spouse or partner, as well as members of your family of origin
  • Art Therapy is an optional addition to your treatment plan, which can allow a creative and deeper means of expression
  • Eating Disorder Relapse Prevention can also be emphasized as a part of your EDIT Treatment Plan — it’s estimated that about 50% of athletes relapse when they return to rigorous training for their sport, but this also means that the other 50% don’t relapse; let the latter be true for you!
  • Other treatment options are available — please ask for more details!

Have a Question? Ask Dr. Dorie!

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