In this podcast, Lianne Castelino of Where Parents Talk speaks to Alida Iacobellis, a Toronto-based nutrition therapist and dietitian about the rising mental health condition of eating disorders among teens, youth and young adults.
Topics discussed include:
- how the COVID-19 global pandemic has contributed to increases in such illnesses as — anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, restrictive food intake disorder, among others
- definition of an eating disorder
- role of a nutrition therapist
- treatment options for individuals with eating disorders
- trends involving young people between 15 and 24 years old
- signs and symptoms of eating disorders
- scientific findings around prevention of eating behaviours before they become a disorder
- why eating disorders are a mental health condition
Alida Iacobellis also shares strategies and tips for parents, kids and families about detecting the onset of a potential eating disorder and how to prevent it from becoming a clinically diagnosed condition.
She also discusses the MORE method — a framework focused on four key focus areas: Moderate, Optimize, Restore and Elevate, designed to help support a healthy relationship with food.
Below is an excerpt from the podcast interview with Alida Iacobellis:
Q: When you look at trends that you are seeing currently in this space, specifically affecting 15, to 24 year olds, before the pandemic, and now during this pandemic, what strikes you about these trends.
So pre pandemic, I would say most of the clients I was seeing were in the 18 and older group. And during the pandemic, I’ve seen that number shift down, I’m seeing more and more younger people probably more so in the 15 to 18 group and higher than I’ve ever seen before, which is very much in line with the trends that many hospital based programs are also experiencing, there’s been so many articles that have been circulated recently, a lot of them shared with me about you know, various programs and hospitals seeing a huge spike in their referrals and admissions. And so what I’m seeing in private practice is definitely in line with that in terms of the age of the people that are coming to me and the number of them that are coming as well.
Q: We’ve seen it being reported that the pandemic has, in many ways, been the perfect storm for fuelling eating disorders in young people. Why do you believe that this is the case?
So lots of different things that have changed as a result of the pandemic and you know, more time staying at home, lots of disruptions to school for these, these young people. Lack of routine is a huge contributing factor, as well as the social isolation and disconnection from peers that’s happened as a result of the the wave of lockdowns. And all of this, I think has really led to not only young adults, but everyone really spending a lot more time online and possibly more time on social media as part of that. And this increased exposure can have so many different harmful effects and influences, especially when you consider the influx of fear based messaging around quarantine weight gain that we were seeing everywhere for a while there. So I think all of that together has resulted in a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a lot of distress that can be really hard to tolerate as a young person. And all of this contributing to maybe newly formed anxiety or depression or worsening of pre existing anxiety or depression and, and really just increasing the need for relief from all of this stuff, which is so tough to deal with.
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