Are you concerned about an athlete’s food & body image?
Athletes statistically have a greater chance of developing an eating disorder than the non-athlete population. If you are concerned that an athlete you coach may be showing signs of an eating disorder, no matter how small, use the information below to help you move forward.
POSSIBLE SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF EATING DISORDERS IN SPORT
Avoiding certain foods
Frequent food restriction
Obsessive or extreme eating behaviors
Increased muscle strains or stress fractures
Longer recovery time
Increased focus on weight
Difficulty taking rest days
Notable weight loss
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT AN EATING DISORDER IN YOUR ATHLETE
Take warning signs seriously. Early detection reduces the risks. Trust your gut and seek help for how best to proceed with your athlete.
Seek advice on how to prepare yourself to have a conversation with your athlete. Approaches such as finding a good private moment, having resources in hand, being ready to state your concerns in specific ways, and being able to listen well are all important.
Connect your athlete with a local practitioner, school counselor, or other health professional.
The National Eating Disorders Association is a good starting point for coaches looking for additional help talking to athletes or their families.
NEDA Helpline: 800-931-2237
EDreferral.com offers a search feature for locating treatment providers around the U.S.
Heatherton, T. F., Mahamedi, F., Striepe, M., Field, A. E., & Keel, P. (1997). A 10-year longitudinal study of body weight, dieting, and eating disorder symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106(1), 117.
Johnson, C., Powers, P. S., & Dick, R. (1999). Athletes and eating disorders: the National Collegiate Athletic Association study. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 26(2), 179-188.
Thompson, R. A., & Sherman, R. T. (2011). Eating disorders in sport. New York, NY: Routledge.