Best resources for eating disorders in endurance athletes

Good afternoon friends,

I was wondering if anyone here could help point me to some of the best podcast episodes, blog posts, etc. TrainerRoad has that address eating disorders in endurance athletes.

To give context, my wife is a licensed therapist who has been working with a state champion level high school track athlete for over a year. The athlete came to my wife dealing with depression and anxiety, but it has just recently come out that the athlete thinks she has an eating disorder. My wife was equipped enough to recognize that the athlete definitely has an eating disorder, got her set up with a therapist who specializes in that area, and got her in a support group that walks with her through the process.

The athlete did not want to stop seeing my wife and is continuing to come to her even though she is getting help with the disorder in other places. The disorder keeps coming up in sessions and my wife feels unequipped to be able to speak into things from a sports perspective.

My wife sees how I eat and take in nutrients on and off the bike (thanks mainly to the TrainerRoad Ask A Cycling Coach podcast!) and was wondering if I could point her to any resources that might be able to help her understand and address an eating disorder from an athlete’s perspective.

Any help you all could give me would be greatly appreciated!!

4 Likes

Also, a multi-part series in the Successful Athletes podcast. Here’s part 1:

Is the student’s eating disorder triggered by body image issues or athletic performance?

2 Likes

Not a TR resource, but Melissa Lodge’s Fed Collaborative instagram account is one of my go-to’s for research/insights etc re eating disorders FED Collaborative (@fed_collaborative) • Instagram photos and videos

1 Like

Allie Ostrander is a former NCAA champ and current pro runner and olympic hopeful who has a YouTube channel. She did a six-week ‘partial hospitalization’ intensive eating disorder treatment, and speaks candidly about these issues on her channel.

The first part of this video may help 'understand it from an athlete’s perspective. 'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1eGSayIxyE

1 Like

Lookup Amelia Boone. Former obstacle course race and long time ultra marathoner. She posts a ton on her recovery from eating.

1 Like

Hey there,

I wanted to chime in because this is something that has affected me personally in the past. It was something I struggled with pretty badly during my first few years of bike racing – I became clinically underweight and even had to drop out of college for a semester to enter an outpatient program to get help.

When I went to therapy, I primarily learned about why I was dealing with an eating disorder beyond sporting reasons. In my own case, a big reason seemed to be that many things in our lives are out of our control – but my weight was something that I could control and manipulate.

I think it’s great that the athlete your wife is working with has resources on how to deal with this from a sporting perspective. If the athlete wants to continue to work with your wife, I might recommend trying to think about why the eating disorder is impacting her outside of sports – especially if your wife feels unequipped to deal with this issue in a sporting context.

For me, a mix of therapy and medications wound up being helpful. I went from thinking obsessively about food, calories, body fat, etc. constantly to… well, these days, not that much at all! I still try to make sure I’m eating well for the level of activity I’m doing for a given day, but it’s no longer something I obsess over. When I was deep in the eating disorder, I never thought I’d ever reach that point.

Anyway, hopefully this perspective is helpful. I think it might be best for your wife to focus on everything in the athlete’s life that is less related to sports, and allow the athletic experts the athlete is working with to focus on that aspect of their recovery. I’m glad it sounds like they have a good team to be working with on this.

3 Likes

Thank you so much! The eating disorder is, from what my wife has communicated with me, tied up in both body image and performance. The athlete competes in long distance events, see’s how skinny the girls she is racing against are, and also feels that the lighter she is the less body weight she will have to carry.

1 Like

That’s great perspective, Zachery! Thank you for sharing.

My wife is definitely trying to stay in her wheelhouse as far as allowing the specialist to clinically help and make suggestions about how the athlete moves forward in the process, but it just keeps coming up so much that my wife was looking to just understand more about how an athlete would be thinking within the process.

Thanks again!

Kudos to your wife’s professionalism in knowing her limitations and scope of practice by referring the athlete to another clinician better suited for her client. Your wife is probably well versed in where to find this information. Rather than seek information from the general public on a forum, she could possibly request consultation with the agency or clinician she referred the athlete to gain a better understanding in disorder eating, managing co-occurring MH disorders and share her concerns with the other provider. Being a mental health provider myself, I would do that whole two birds one stone thing by attending professional education and completion of my CEU’s by utilizing training sessions provided here:

3 Likes

I’d like to echo the sentiments of @shawn76 - well done to your wife for continuing to support this athlete, and guiding her toward professional help :heart:.

As others have said, professional help is essential.

Below, I’ve linked to some of our podcasts where we discuss Disoreder Eating/ Eating Disorders and recovery. I know there are more podcast out there where we have discussed the topic so if anyone remembers specific episodes, please chime in!

As you know, these are not intended to replace professional help. But at the very least, they may help the athlete realise she is not alone, offer hope and help inspire her toward health.

Thanks again to you and your wife for your care toward this athlete.

5w/kg and Conquering Disordered Eating with Alex Sandilands — Successful Athletes 43

Managing Expectations, Burnout, and Mental Health with Haley Smith – Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast

Disordered Eating and Endurance Athletes – Ask a Cycling Coach 193

How Much Food do Cyclists Need?! w/ Dr. Jose Areta - Science of Getting Faster Podcast Ep 14
This one is not specifically about Eating Disorders but we do discuss related topics that may be helpful.

2 Likes

That’s a great resource. Thank you!

Thank you so much, Sarah! Those are great resources that I will pass along.

Thanks to everyone at TR for promoting healthy eating and lifestyle :+1:

1 Like

:heart::heart::heart: