The Psychology of Eating Disorders and the Athlete Identity

Roaring Fork Mental Health Professionals Meeting

EDCare strives to raise awareness about the growing impact eating disorders have on athletes and performers not only from a psychological perspective, but nutritional as well. On June 21, 2017, EDCare had the opportunity to join our partner, Aspen Strong, at the Roaring Fork Mental Health Professionals (RFMHP) Meeting in El Jebel, Colorado. Our sports psychologist, Melissa Streno, and sports dietitian, Shane Bates, educated fellow mental health professionals on “The Psychology of Eating Disorders and the Athlete Identity”.

Utilizing her extensive work and educational background in eating disorders, sports performance psychology, and personal experience as a competitive athlete, Melissa Streno, PsyD, CC-AASP presented on the biological, psychological and social factors contributing to the development of eating disorders in athletes. The combination of these elements impact the athlete identity in numerous ways, prompting a greater need for coaches and healthcare professionals alike to be aware of the performance and health consequences associated with eating disorders and the need to take action early when warning signs present themselves.

Also offering her unique insights, EDCare’s dietitian for our Elite Athlete Program, Shane Bates, MS, RD discussed sports-related nutrition and how dieting and restrictive meal plans often contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Expanding upon her expertise in nutritional science and passion for helping others develop a healthy relationship with food, Bates reviewed the effects eating disorders can have on weight and body composition and recommended nutritional treatment guidelines for healthcare providers and coaches to consider.

With the amount of cultural emphasis placed on having the optimal body size and shape for peak athletic performance, the correlation between athletes and the development of disordered eating is not surprising. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicineestimates 25 percent of collegiate female athletes and 20 percent of male collegiate athletes suffer from disordered eating patterns. This is why EDCare believes there is an ever growing need for athletes, healthcare professionals, coaches and parents to understand the prevalence of eating disorders among athletes, the need for timely action, and what treatment options are available. Only when we begin to recognize and address this need for awareness can the negative stigmas athletes and performers face get broken down. While an athlete may look health and be performing well, the combination of disordered eating patterns and heavy exercise puts them at an increased risk for medical complications and injury. It is our goal to help athletes get back to doing what they love in a healthy way and without compromising their identity as an “athlete”.

Melissa Streno, (EDCare), Christina King (Aspen Strong), Shane Bates, MS, RD (EDCare) at the Roaring Fork Mental Health Professionals Meeting in Aspen, CO

EDCare Specialty Track for Elite Athletes

EDCare offers the most comprehensive care for athletes with eating disorders in the country. Our multidisciplinary team focuses on the athlete as a whole – treating the mind, body, and spirit. By following our empowerment based treatment model, athletes and performers gain the necessary skills to continue participating in sports and other activities in a way that continuously supports their long-term recovery success. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, contact us. Members of our Elite Athlete Program are available to help you determine what steps to take. Learn more about our Treatment Options or call (866) 771-0861 today for a FREE assessment.