Advice for those struggling with eating disorders

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Sunday
Published: Dec. 26, 2021 at 7:57 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - For someone with disordered eating habits, food might not be an issue. On the contrary, for someone suffering from an eating disorder, it’s thought-consuming.

“When I was younger, I would go for days almost not eating anything because I wanted to be skinny, I wanted to look a certain way. I was very insecure with how I felt and who I was and I had this vision in my mind that is what it would take to get there. So, after a week or however many days of just not fueling myself with the right food, I would go then in the opposite and just binge, and binge, and binge until I felt sick to my stomach. It would be this vicious cycle that was really atrocious to my health,” explained current Miss South Dakota, Kaitlin O’Neill.

“An eating disorder is when someone is eating way too much or they’re not eating enough,” said Dr. Kari Scovel, a clinical psychologist. “They can cycle into a binging and purging cycle especially during high-stress times.”

Like around the holiday’s when the pressure to eat is everywhere. Being aware of that pressure is huge when combating either an active or recovering disorder.

Plan ahead and be there for yourself.

“When you have an eating disorder and you know you’re going to be put in a situation where you’re going to be tempted, you’re going to be put in a position that’s going to be hard for you, to think it through ahead of time,” said therapist, Beth Trennepohl.

Plan out your meals, consider packing your own to make yourself comfortable, and have a support system to talk you through negative behaviors.

“And remember really what the holidays are supposed to be like and care for yourself. Don’t get overwhelmed and if you do, take those moments away from the crowds and the pressure to eat,” said Scovel.

However, for someone suffering from an eating disorder, it’s not just the holidays that are a struggle.

“We all are challenged around the holidays to eat more than we should, different things, more unhealthy things, but people with an eating disorder struggle with eating all the time, not just at the holidays,” said Trennepohl.

“Growing up, I think I had an unhealthy relationship with food in general. It wouldn’t necessarily spike more or less during the holiday’s it was just kind of a constant,” said O’Neill.

O’Neill has recovered from her eating disorder and started an organization called BLOOM Into a Healthier You to help people going through similar struggles.

“You are not alone and there are people out there to support you. That was just my biggest thing. I hid my feelings and I didn’t talk about what I was going through because I was afraid to do that and there are so many other people out there who have either experienced exactly what you’re going through or similar situations and they can get you the help that you need,” said O’Neill.

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