Reflection by Tatyana Bidopia
At this year’s International Conference on Eating Disorders (ICED) in New York, NY, I was able to present a poster at the poster session on Saturday, March 16th. I enjoyed engaging with faculty and doctoral students on research I'm involved in with the Duke Center for Eating Disorders about interoceptive awareness on a spectrum of dietary restraint and felt that this was an invaluable experience for both my career and personal development. In conversations with individuals who stopped by my poster, I was able to engage in intellectual conversations surrounding the implications of this research as well as future steps in studying interoceptive deficits in a subclinical population, including correlating results on interoceptive accuracy with brain imaging results of the insula (a brain region implicated in interoception).
In addition to this presentation, I became more educated on pertinent issues within the field of eating disorders by attending various educational sessions, including one on the unique factors corresponding to the increased risk of eating disorders in the LGBTQ+ population and another on the introduction of exercise in the treatment of eating disorders. At the first talk, I learned that structural forms of stigma, including a lack of protective policies for the LGBTQ+ population, are associated with increased risk of mental health disorders. I was also able to understand that a confluence of other factors, including racial/ethnic identity, gender congruence, and familial/peer support, lend to more complex measures of risk of eating disorders within the LGBTQ+ population. In the talk about using exercise as a treatment modality for individuals with eating disorders, I learned that forcing individuals who compulsively exercise to remain completely abstinent from exercise may be doing more harm than good. By slowly introducing exercise as a function of the individual’s place in recovery, clinicians may see better improvements in eating disorder and mood disorder symptomatology in their patients.
Reflection by Julia Nicholas
One of my favorite moments from the conference was a talk on eating disorders in the LGBTQ+ community. It was very interesting to learn about how eating disorders research and treatment could be made more inclusive of folks with diverse sexual and gender identities, and it was inspiring to see so many researchers and mental health professionals eager to learn about the unique challenges and risk factors facing this community. Additionally, I was excited to see a presentation on a study about the impacts of weight stigma on intuitive eating, which I found highly relevant to my thesis research on weight stigma and binge eating.