Experts share the summer stressors that can worsen eating disorders
For those struggling with an eating disorder, summertime gatherings where they are surrounded by food and warm weather outfits can be triggering.
Summer is a season of body comparison, with more people out on the lakes and at pool parties. That can impact those struggling with an eating disorder, and experts say this time of the year can also be a higher risk period for teens and college-aged students to develop eating disorders.
Dr. Allison Chase, the regional clinical director for Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center in the Texas region, said eating disorders are incredibly complex, as they are a combination of a very significant biological genetic predisposition as well as environmental factors.
"It's just important to point that out that it's not sort of as simple as what's in our environment or the time of year, necessarily, as there are all these other factors," Chase said. "But with that said, there is no doubt that with the pressures that come along with what one wears – and maybe it's less clothes, especially since it's so incredibly hot here in the Austin."
In the summer, there is a lack of structure and routine that can lead some people to go deeper into their eating disorder to feel a sense of control. There is also a lack of oversight. Parents may still have to work and teachers aren't seeing their students every day to notice a change in behaviors or physical appearance.
"It's really important that there's somebody that's staying tuned in and keeping track because we do know that once eating disorders get started and behaviors start increasing, those really unhealthy behaviors, we've got really unhealthy bodies as well as emotional states," Chase said.