On today’s episode, Shannon and Tabitha Farrar reflect on eating disorders, such as disordered eating and anorexia, and its relationship to the yoga world.

As Shannon notes, January is a busy time for yoga teachers. Many new students are influenced by the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution as a way to make a fresh start or establish new patterns (often eating better and exercising more), so eating disorder education is especially relevant at this time of year.

Tabitha Farrar is an eating disorder recovery coach who speaks and writes about effective and realistic recovery approaches for adults with restrictive eating disorders. Tabitha recovered from 10 years of severe anorexia and is passionate about helping adult sufferers find a sustainable recovery that works for them.

She is the author of Love Fat, numerous articles on eating disorders and the founder of 2 support forums. Tabitha is currently working on her second book, A Workbook for Anorexia Recovery.  She also hosts The Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast and has founded Adult Eating Disorder Recovery (AEDR), a service that offers meal support and emotional support through text for those recovering from an eating disorder.

Tabitha shares her expertise to help dispel myths surrounding eating disorders. She also discusses symptoms of EDs, the seriousness of malnutrition, the danger of restrictive eating (such as cleanses and fasts), and what to do if you suspect a student suffers from an eating disorder.

[3:45] Shannon’s Personal Wellness Goals for the New Year

[4:55] Shannon’s thoughts on yoga and its relationship to eating disorders

[7:40] Tabitha’s yoga journey

[8:45] How Tabitha came to realize she had an eating disorder

[10:25] What led Tabitha to her current career path- an eating disorder coach with a podcast Tabitha’s Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast

[12:00] What Tabitha wishes people knew about eating disorders

[13:30] Myth around the idea of anorexia being a desire for control when in fact it’s a ”negative state relief” – a behaviour that helps manage anxiety to a level that is tolerable.

[14:40] Not always easy to recognize an eating disorder but some symptoms include:

  • extreme weight loss can be a sign but you don’t have to be underweight to have an eating disorder (even anorexia)
  • mental state deterioration
  • irritability
  • hoarding
  • possessiveness (acting as though you’re in a threatening environment)

[16:50] Another symptom that is especially relevant to yoga is the compulsion to exercise

[19:00] A study revealed eating disorders can stem from genetics if ancestors migrated in response to famine- in migration eat very little and quickly travel over vast distances “have to keep moving”

Article: Adapted to Flee Famine: Adding an Evolutionary Perspective on Anorexia Nervosa by Shan Guisinger PhD

[20:40] Malnutrition is a medical emergency

[21:15] Tabitha’s wish for less emphasis on nutrition believing that as nutritional science has gained prevalence in our society it has been more detrimental than helpful

[23:10] The yoga community should treat the body as a living organism and not like a machine

[23:45] What can yoga teachers do to empower their students whether they know their yoga students have an eating disorder or not- Tabitha reads an email she received with thoughts on yoga teachers and eating disorders

[25:20] Detrimental effect of yoga marketing, social media- e.g. can set unrealistic standards in the mind of yoga students or can encourage students to come to yoga focusing on accepting  their bodies not changing them

[27:05] The changes in Tabitha’s teaching after educating herself about eating disorders

[29:20] Yoga and meditation as a tool for eating disorder recovery

[30:45] Breaking down eating disorder statistics by age and gender and looking beyond them- e.g. eating disorders in males are underreported  

[32:20] If you notice some symptoms of an eating disorder in a yoga student do you approach them?

[35:10] Helpful for yoga studio managers to have some education in eating disorders so teachers can come to them if they’re concerned about a student

[36:00] Danger of diets, fasting, cleanses, vegetarianism, veganism (any restrictive eating) in general and especially when struggling with an eating disorder

[39:10] Being aware of language around eating and the body as a yoga teacher- criticizing your body is normalized in society, often a bonding activity

[42:20] Tabitha’s final words to yoga teachers

[44:05] How to find Tabitha if you want to contact her

[45:00] Shannon’s closing thoughts

“I want you to understand that eating disorders are genetically based mental illnesses. They are not a choice. They are not ‘caused by society’ (although they are complicated and aggravated by society in a serious way). They are not caused by bad parents or a ‘need to control’” -Tabitha Farrar

Links

Tabitha Farrar’s Website

Instagram

Twitter @love_fat_

Podcast: Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast (also available on iTunes)

Book: Love Fat -Tabitha Farrar’s eating disorder recovery story

Tabitha’s Blog Posts: The danger of veganism and EDs

Article: Adapted to Flee Famine: Adding an Evolutionary Perspective on Anorexia Nervosa by Shan Guisinger PhD

Adapted to Flee Famine Website

Adult Eating Disorder Recovery (AEDR) Website

The Connected Teacher Facebook Group

New Year’s Resolutions Discussion on TCYT Facebook Group

Miranda’s Student Numbers Question Discussion on TCYT Facebook Group

Follow The Connected Teacher on Youtube

Book a Consultation Call with Shannon

Mama Nurture Teacher Training (RPYT)

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