Disordered eating often goes unrecognized and untreated in a world where thinness is the ideal and dieting is glorified. The Asian Pacific Islander and South Asian (APISA) community has been rendered particularly invisible in regard to disordered eating identification and treatment. This is despite the additional challenges APISA folks may experience, such as frequent body shaming from relatives and societal expectations that Asians are supposed to be small. Given how painful and inhibiting disordered eating can be, I found this lack of treatment quite troubling. Therefore, I am starting an APISA Disordered Eating Support Group to help APISA individuals find the healing they need and deserve.
Correcting Misconceptions of Disordered Eating
What do you think of when you hear the phrase disordered eating? Shaped by media and societal misconceptions, people often imagine disordered eating in its most extreme form of severe anorexia or bulimia, and they picture those affected as rich, white, thin, women. However, this is too narrow a view–one that not only ignores less severe, yet still harmful eating issues but also excludes the people with identities that do not fit the stereotype of those who struggle with disordered eating.
In reality, eating problems are not “an either/or condition in which one either has an eating disorder or does not.”1 Rather, as scholar Michelle Lelwica writes, issues with food and the body occur on a “continuum…from the more extreme incidences of anorexia and bulimia to the more common but related problems of compulsive eating, chronic dieting, and body-discontent.”2 The placement of these eating issues on a spectrum is not meant to level or equate every issue, but instead to show the differences between these issues as “a matter of degree rather than kind.”3
Additionally, disordered eating affects all people, regardless of racial and ethnic identity, socioeconomic class, body size, sexuality, age, and gender. The consequence of this gap between the perception of who experiences disordered eating and the much broader reality is that there are significant disparities in the identification and treatment of disordered eating for those with identities that do not fit the stereotype.
Bridging the Gap
We are starting a disordered eating support group for APISA adults in hopes to support those whose issues have gone unaddressed either because they are seen as “not severe enough” or because they do not fit the stereotype of a person with disordered eating.
Am I a good fit for this group?
Perhaps you find that your mental and emotional energy is consumed by food. Your mind is preoccupied with constant thoughts about food, and your emotions surrounding food undulate between stress and guilt. You may have noticed that you primarily define yourself and your life by food and your body. Your eating dictates how good or bad your day is, and the number on the scale determines your worth. Life has started to feel smaller as you avoid social events and other opportunities out of fear of breaking your food rules or losing control around food. If you resonate with any of these sentiments, this group could be a good fit for you.
What to Expect
Our APISA Disordered Eating group seeks to provide a warm, compassionate space to help you make peace with food and your body. The group will help you better understand your experience with disordered eating. This includes where it originated, what function it serves, and what factors maintain these issues. We will also work to build motivation towards recovery and learn tools for this process such as:
- Addressing thinking traps about food and your body
- Coping with difficult emotions
- Discovering more freeing ways to approach food
- Cultivating respect and compassion toward your body
Throughout our group, we will be interweaving discussions on how our identities as APISA individuals intersect with our food and body issues, such as how we have been impacted by body-shaming comments or mixed messages about how much we should eat. We hope you will leave this group feeling less alone and empowered to find greater freedom with food and your body.
For more information about the group, please visit Asian Pacific Islander South Asian Disordered Eating Support Group or contact [email protected].
1 Michelle Lelwica, Starving for Salvation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).
Begin Working With An Eating Disorder Support Group in Los Angeles, CA and New York, NY
You don’t have to struggle alone as you navigate disordered eating recovery. Our team of therapists is happy to offer support groups across California and New York. You can start your therapy journey with YYC by following these simple steps:
- Fill out our appointment request form here or below using the prompt
- Start sessions with one of our caring, neurodiversity-affirming couples therapists
- Connect with your partner, leading to a more fulfilling and enjoyable relationship
Other Services Offered with Yellow Chair Collective
Support groups are not the only service offered at Yellow Chair Collective. The therapists at our Los Angeles and New York City-based counseling center are competent in various areas. Our team also offers mental health services for teens, individuals, and couples. We address issues including anxiety, postpartum therapy, and trauma and PTSD. Our team can also provide culturally sensitive treatment for highly sensitive people, burnout, workshops for organizations, and EMDR. All of these services can be utilized in-person or online anywhere in California or New York.