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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Eating Disorders

In Elemental. More on Medium.

How the chatter about quarantine weight gain impacts those with disordered eating

Photo: kaipong/Getty Images

As the coronavirus has spread in the United States, our lives have changed drastically — in ways we likely never anticipated. Feeling scared, uncertain, frustrated, or even panicked are emotions appropriate to the underlying confusion and loss of control generated by the pandemic. It is, of course, natural to experience distress in response to a severe health threat. Some amount of anxiety can even be motivating — reminding us to wash hands, avoid crowds, or make alternative plans.


Illustration: Carolyn Figel

Why I signed up for these studies in a heartbeat — and you might want to, too

Fun fact about eating disorders (just kidding — none of it is fun): If anyone ever insinuates to you that anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder are a choice, a vanity issue, or solely the product of one too many social media clicks, that person knows nothing about eating disorders. If eating disorders were actually any one of those things, I would have politely said “no thank you” when negative body image thoughts came calling in first grade and full-blown anorexia took over my life by high school. The reality that most people aren’t aware of or don’t care to…


Illustrations: Simone Noronha

Men aren’t part of the body positivity movement, but they need to be

The first time I hung out with Ryon Odneal, he ordered the chipotle avocado chicken wrap at our local diner, and the waitress knew before he could say it: “Without the wrap, right?” He laughed. When his lunch arrived — a pile of chicken, lettuce, avocado, black beans, and cheese smothered in chipotle sauce — he gestured to it. “At the height of my anorexia, I was eating maybe 1,200 calories a day,” says Odneal, a 28-year-old photographer who also manages a luxury eyewear store in Beacon, New York. “That’s, like, right here on this plate, right?” He was proud…


Fat patients are getting worse health care than ever. Here are 10 recommendations that can help.

Photo: Tetra Images/Getty Images

I spent nearly a decade away from doctors’ offices.


A pediatrician shares the latest science — and her own observations

A teenage girl poses on her bed with her phone for a selfie.
A teenage girl poses on her bed with her phone for a selfie.
Photo: Emma Kim/Cultura/Getty Images

Before I saw my first issue of Teen Magazine, I did not know that my hair was all wrong. Enlightenment came after I spent a moment comparing myself to the model on the cover. I looked around at the other girls and realized that they all had hair like she did (approximately). Clearly, I needed my bangs to float above my head like a peacock, just like everyone else.


A new trial by Johns Hopkins Medicine will study the effectiveness of psilocybin for eating disorder treatment

Illustration: Théophile Bartz

In early September, the burgeoning field of psychedelic research got a long-sought-after dose of legitimacy: Johns Hopkins Medicine received $17 million in funding to launch the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research. A first-of-its-kind facility for the United States, the center will study the efficacy of psychedelics — namely psilocybin (otherwise known as psychedelic mushrooms) — as a treatment for a range of mental health disorders. …


How drinking helped me starve myself — and learn to eat again

Photo by Monica Silva on Unsplash

On a trip to the library during my senior year of college, when I was at a nadir in my anorexia — three months before entering rehab — I collapsed on a staircase, faint from food deprivation and overexertion. I wasn’t sure I’d make it back to my dorm. There was an apple in my bag that could’ve helped, but I’d already carefully allotted the day’s calories, and the apple wasn’t included. Eating the apple now would mean not having a beer later, and that was unthinkable. In a way I couldn’t have articulated in the moment, that drink was…


Trust Issues

New kinds of eating disorders feed off our cultural obsession with healthy diets

Illustrations by Thoka Maer

The restaurant in southeastern Virginia is the kind of place that makes its own fresh-squeezed juices and has kale on the menu in three different places. The waiter lets diners know that any grain dish can be made gluten-free. As he takes orders, the dishes, from octopus ceviche with wasabi dressing to pan-roasted salmon with quinoa and lemon aioli, are complex. Elyse, a 29-year-old sales executive, reluctantly opens her menu and prays. Please let there be a kids’ section. Please tell me they have regular fries.


The locker room talk we’re not discussing is how young men critique each other

Photo by Florian Pérennès on Unsplash

The locker room at my gym is an anthropological world of wonders. Inside, you’ll find every type of body imaginable on display in its full glory. There are older sagging bodies, young and toned ones, and everything in between.


As locavorism, veganism, and other healthy food trends took off, some of the people who pushed them the hardest suffered the most

Photo: Michael Klippfeld/Getty

I meet Christy Harrison in a crowded Brooklyn bar on the first night of summer in 2017. She’s an extremely pretty brunette with chic, angled bangs and a great navy-striped dress. There’s also something just a little bit guarded about her. As we talk over pork belly sandwiches, I decide it might be from knowing she appears to fit seamlessly into one mold — stylish, thin, healthy-food-oriented — when, in fact, she’s been working hard for many years now to build a different kind of reputation. “I was a food writer,” Christy says, “who was really struggling with food.”

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