Eating disorders are mental health conditions characterized by unhealthy eating habits to lose or gain weight. They are often caused by harmful beliefs regarding body image, weight, and food. Due to the mental and physical intensity of training and performance, eating disorders in athletes are more prevalent.
Athletes commonly share similar eating disorder traits, such as perfectionism, compulsiveness, and hyperactivity. These characteristics can influence excessive exercise and unhealthy dieting practices. According to a study in 2004, elite athletes (13.5%) were more likely to have an eating disorder compared to the general public (4.9%).1
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The pressures and physical demands of being an athlete can take a serious toll on the mind and body. For instance, 30.7% of NCAA athletes reported body dissatisfaction, weight preoccupation, and bulimic tendencies.2
Gymnastics has historically been a sport that strongly emphasizes discipline, perfection, and control. This culture can contribute to the development of perfectionistic tendencies and obsessive behavior, including obsessive thoughts about food and weight.
Bodybuilding significantly emphasizes physical appearance, muscle mass, and body fat percentage. This focus on body image and physical performance can lead to eating disorders. Bodybuilders are often required to maintain a specific body weight or body fat percentage to compete or meet personal goals. This can result in a preoccupation with food, calories, and macronutrient intake. They may also engage in extreme dieting or restrictive eating behaviors to achieve their desired body composition.4
The pressure to perform and meet the expectations of coaches and teammates can create stress and anxiety. This can make swimmers more vulnerable to eating disorders. Swimmers may also face unique challenges related to their sport. For example, swimming requires wearing revealing clothing, which can affect body consciousness.
Getting treatment for eating disorders is essential to help athletes recover and lead healthy lives. Alternative Options is a treatment center specializing in eating disorders. We offer various programs to help individuals cope with and manage eating disorders.
We provide residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs. Our practice involves a combination of evidence-based therapies. Some examples include CBT, nutrition counseling, and family therapy, to help individuals achieve and maintain recovery. We follow a personalized approach, developing tailored treatment plans to meet each unique client’s needs.
At Alternative Options, our highly qualified staff provides individuals with the necessary tools and support to overcome their eating disorders and lead positive, fulfilling lives. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and how you can get started on the path to recovery.