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Eating Disorders and Apps-Toxic or Healthy Relationship | Recovery Expert

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

Self-care simply starts by taking a mindful breath, inhale then exhale.

Who knew that eating disorders and apps would be in the same sentence? I don’t know that anyone knew, but what I do know is that eating disorders are insidious. They will use whatever vices are available to make sure the sufferer is obedient and makes that eating disorder the number one priority.  

Welcome to the new relationship between eating disorders and apps- a toxic or healthy relationship?

Apps can prove to have both dangers and benefits to recovery, all of which need to be explored and talked about.

The relationship with eating disorders and the internet is alive and thriving is both healthy and toxic ways. Pro-mia(pro-bulimia) and pro-ana (pro-anorexia) eating disorder websites focus on “how to” tips and tricks to be exceptional at your eating disorder  and the concept of “thinspiration” in the form of photos of dangerously thin individuals. While many site hosts have shut down and banned these websites, they are still in and continue to come into existence. Besides social media, we now have new outside factors, which have come from that deep relationship between eating disorders and the internet to contend with: the world of apps, some of which can feed an eating disorder and pose dangers to recovery.

Many apps can be a potentially dangerous playground for creating and exacerbating one’s eating disorder which results in a very toxic relationship.  There are apps that feed an eating disorder by telling you how many calories you have eaten, how many calories you “should” be eating, how many steps you have walked, how many steps you “should” be walking. Some apps even have “friendly” reminders that it is time to exercise and these apps can ultimately become some of a sufferer’s eating disorder voice, rules, and commandments. As if the eating disorder sufferer didn’t have enough to already contend with. There are also motivational apps to help one lose weight, apps to find different diets, learn on the go exercises, and apps that even serve as scales to help you track your weight loss. Now don’t get me wrong, I imagine that some of these apps are extremely beneficial for some, but for others they can be extremely dangerous.

Eating disorders and apps also have the capacity for a very meaningful and healthy relationship, especially when the app works to turn the eating disorder on the journey called recovery. This healthy and meaningful relationship is known as eating disorder recovery apps, that can be a beneficial tool to aid in one’s recovery.  I have seen many of my clients find that these eating disorder recovery apps actually help in numerous ways, including creating accountability, staying connected to others, increasing mindfulness, and being an easily accessible recovery tool.

Some of the top eating disorder recovery apps of 2012 include, but are not limited to:

1. Recovery Record (Eating Disorder Management) is “the smart companion for managing your journey to recovery from eating disorder including anorexia, bulimia, obsessive eating, compulsive eating, and binge eating.”

The app helps users track progress, log food and feelings, connect with treatment providers, and build coping tactics. This 5-star app also allows users work toward goals, achieve their rewards, and even collect clips in a scrapbook.

2. The Body Beautiful, as an eating disorder recovery app, helps users embrace their bodies and self-image to develop confidence and self-acceptance. The app delivers inspirational quotes, videos, articles, and other media tools on a regular basis.

The app lets users collect and share their favorite quotes and items, including the latest body-positive celebrity reflections. Body Beautiful also encourages chatting among members and a user “pledge” to respect and love their bodies. This app is primarily targeted to women working to end “fat talk” and wars against calories.

3. Positive Thinking is about training your brain to be optimistic—may be a helpful strategy for people with body image problems and eating disorders by learning strategies for self-appreciation and confidence.

This app is also customizable. It helps users work on topics such as decision-making, health, perfectionism, self-control, and other subjects that are useful for individuals with eating disorders. The quotes are inspirational and allow users to focus on whichever area of improvement most interests them.

4. Optimism is a mood charting app that helps you develop strategies for managing depression, bipolar or other mental health conditions.

Let’s talk about it. Let’s talk to each other, our children, our family, our friends, and our loved ones. Eating disorders and apps have shown to be a very toxic relationship, but when recovery comes along, it is much more likely to become a healthy relationship.  Awareness and knowledge….it’s imperative and it starts there.. To learn more please refer to  EATING DISORDERS: Decode the Controlled Chaos which is my recently published book.


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