Eating Disorder TreatmentStop Chasing Skinny Episode #18

That Diet Could be Dangerous with Amy Gerberry

As a fitness professional, I spend day in and day out with the word DIET. Prior to becoming a fitness professional, I competed in physique competitions, sometimes referred to as, “the sport of dieting”. For as long as I can remember before that, I was well aware of the latest and greatest studies on how to blast fat, block fat, lean out, fit into skinny jeans, etc.

As a part of this series of podcasts for National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, I decided to cover Disordered Eating; Eating Disorders; Healing and Developing a Healthy Relationship with Food, Exercise, and Body Image; and Eating Disorders in Athletes.

I knew I would learn a great deal from each topic but this one on Eating Disorders surprised me the most. Listen as the Clinical Director of South Carolina’s only residential eating disorder treatment facility, Amy Gerberry talks with us about the dangers in dieting.

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Did you know that 40% of 3rd graders polled have been on a diet?

Our new social normal is riddled with disordered eating and eating disorder-type behaviors.

When Amy told me that statistic my eyes filled with tears because it makes me so sad to think 8 year olds are already learning how to hate their bodies.

Listen here to learn how we can help ourselves, our sisters, mothers, daughters, friends, co-workers, and very impressionable young eyes looking up to us.

Who can be affected by an eating disorder?

Anyone. Eating disorders were thought of as the “rich white girls’ issue,” but that is no longer the case. Amy is seeing eating disorders across all ethnic groups, socio-economic groups, age groups, and in males and females.

What are the different types of eating disorders?

Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) – Someone in this category may have lost a significant amount of weight loss in an extremely short period of time. Gastric bypass surgery patients can suffer from this.

Binge eating disorder (BED)

Bulimia nervosa (BN)

Anorexia nervosa (AN)

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), also known as Selective Eating Disorder (SED), also called picky eating, is an extreme sensitivity to how something tastes.

Pica, rumination, and other disorders are also a problem.

Additional information found on Wikipedia:

  • Compulsive overeating, (COE), in which individuals habitually graze on large quantities of food rather than binging, as would be typical of binge eating disorder.
  • Diabulimia, characterized by the deliberate manipulation of insulin levels by diabetics in an effort to control their weight.
  • Food maintenance, characterized by a set of aberrant eating behaviors of children in foster care.
  • Orthorexia nervosa, a term used by Steven Bratman to characterize an obsession with a “pure” diet, in which people develop an obsession with avoiding unhealthy foods to the point where it interferes with a person’s life.
  • Drunkorexia, commonly characterized by purposely restricting food intake in order to reserve food calories for alcoholic calories, exercising excessively in order to burn calories consumed from drinking, and over-drinking alcohols in order to purge previously consumed food.
  • Pregorexia, characterized by extreme dieting and over-exercising in order to control pregnancy weight gain. Under-nutrition during pregnancy is associated with low birth weight, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, hypertension, cardiovascular disease risk, and depression.

How do eating disorders start? Are they typically an event by event, slippery slope kind of problem or do they just show up one day?

There is no one one particular incident that will trigger an eating disorder. Awareness is key.

What are some of the potential triggers for an eating disorder?

In my experience, knowledge is power and if we can see certain patterns starting and connect the dots to events, we are better able to understand what is happening and ask for help sooner rather than later and to be able to help loved ones who cannot help themselves.
These triggers can be anything from bullying to sexual trauma to high expectations from self and parents.

What are some things we may not know about eating disorders?

There isn’t a system in your body that doesn’t get impacted with an eating disorder.

The damage being sustained… enamel eroding, esophageal cancer, inability to use the bathroom without the aid of laxatives, electrolyte imbalances, long-term damage to the metabolism and inability to lose weight later on in life, how it negatively affects our skin and hair, organ damage, etc.

Have you suffered from an eating disorder? This could impact your future ability to lose weight in the future. Read the past blog post here.

Can someone suffering from an eating disorder still be overweight? 

Absolutely. Weight is not indicative of what someone is struggling with. Most bulimics are of average weight or over weight.

Alarming statistics…

There are more deaths related to eating disorders (through medical complications and suicides) than any other psychiatric illnesses and those numbers are climbing. This means more people are dying from eating disorder than depression-related suicides. 

There are more people diagnosed with an eating disorder than with breast cancer.

40% of 3rd graders polled have been on a diet.

1 in 4 female college students suffer.

How can we best support someone who has an eating disorder or has recovered from an eating disorder?

Parents can be positive role models by having Positive Body Perception.

Book Recommendations:

What are treatment options?

Step 1: Medical Doctor… what’s going on inside the body. Checking vitals, etc.

Step 2: Counseling. Find someone who treats eating disorders. Not all therapists treat in this area.

Step 3: Counselor can assess if patient needs additional treatment.


Excessive Exercise is a Form of Purging

Additional Facts:

According to, Media, Perception, Dieting:

• 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.
• 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.
• The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.
• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).

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