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Unseen Battles: Eating Disorders Among People with Disabilities

February 1, 2024 | by sau1admin

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During this first week of February, we want to shine a light on something that affects many people, including people in the disability community, eating disorders.

What is an eating disorder? The American Psychiatric Association, tells us that an eating disorder is how you think, feel, and act towards food and eating in general.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) says about 28 million people will have an eating disorder at some time in their life. Eating Disorder Hope tells us that,”Many people with disabilities feel they have no control over their bodies, including even what they’re able to do on a daily basis. Restricting eating can be a way to feel like you’re in control.”

Some people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism have trouble with certain textures of food or need to have their food made or given to them in a particular way in order to be able to eat it. The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), says this is one of the leading causes of eating disorder development in the disability community.

Something else to think about is treatment options for people with disabilities who also have an eating disorder. First, a lot of people in the disability community get federal health insurance. This type of insurance does not normally cover eating disorder treatment. Second, it is important that people find a treatment provider that can meet their needs. Not only does this mean finding a provider that can treat the person’s eating disorder, but finding one that can also assist with any physical and or cognitive supports and services the person needs.

A lot of eating disorder treatment providers are now offering online treatment so that people can stay comfortably in their home and still get help when and where they need it. This has been especially helpful since the pandemic.


So, if you or someone you know is struggling, ask for help. There is hope in healing. You can reach out to the National Eating Disorder Association to help you find treatment to fit your needs or the needs of someone you love. Find them on their website or text with a live support person by texting NEDA to 741741.

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