Lexi Miller: Eating Disorders in Endurance Sports–Common Traits Between ‘Good Athletes’ and ED Patients, Risk Factors, The Road to Recovery, and Pursuing Health

March 20, 2020
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Lexi Miller is a Colorado-based running coach and community manager at Lifelong Endurance. She previously worked in the mental health field, primarily with adults recovering from eating disorders (ED). On this show, we discuss the psychology of EDs, disordered eating and body dysmorphia, and particularly athletes suffering from one or more of these conditions.

 

On this show:

  • What is the difference between an eating disorder and disordered eating?
    • Individuals with an eating disorder are clinically diagnosable. Examples of eating disorders include: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, orthorexia, binge-eating disorder, and food aversions.
    • Disordered eating doesn’t fall into those categories above, but it is a term used for unhealthy eating behaviors/worries.
  • It’s imperative to understand why an athlete wants to go on a diet.
  • Lexi is a huge fan of intuitive eating. She doesn’t like to label food as “good” or “bad.” In her practice, she might encourage individuals to look at protein and carbohydrates and when they will serve the body best in regards to performance and recovery. However, if someone is at-risk or fixating, she recommends seeing a nutrition specialist.
  • What characteristics do “good athletes” and someone with an eating disorder have in common?
  • There is a value in having the right coach that can monitor and encourage health.
  • These disordered traits are more prevalent than we realize. One of the hardest things about eating disorders and disordered eating is that so few people get help because they are looked at as being normal. To outsiders, the individuals are seen as looking great and healthy, but it’s far from the truth.
  • Men (and athletes) are underdiagnosed because they are encouraged by society to push through pain. In our society, it’s glorified to be mentally tough, self-resilient, and self-disciplined; to not do that, is a sign of weakness.
  • If any of this is resonating with you: seek support, make an appointment with a therapist.
  • How would someone know if they have a binge eating disorder?
    • Eating for comfort rather than hunger, eating due to an obsession, eating past the point of being full and to an uncomfortable level.
  • How would a coach help guide someone in the right direction if they are exhibiting these traits?
    • Talk about how amazing the human body is.
    • Have positive conversations about how the athlete feels in their bodies.
    • Having conversations about how bodies change over time.
  • Coaches should create a healthy dialogue but also encourage an athlete to seek help when needed!
  • Stay away from complimenting people’s bodies.
  • Can people fully recover from an eating disorder?
    • Yes and no
    • Be aware of your triggers
    • Be aware of your thoughts and stories you’re telling yourself
    • Continue to keep a close support network
  • Can people integrate recovery while participating in sport?
    • Individuals can get to a point where they can train and work on recovery. But recovery has to be your priority.
    • Ask yourself why training is so important right now.
    • Schedule an appointment with a dietitian or therapist.
    • Start practicing mindfulness and meditation.
    • Does the sport bring you joy?
  • Write down your values! Make sure you have a balance in your life.
  • Orthorexia is an obsession with eating clean and healthy foods.
  • Two resources mentioned:

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