Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety by Yvonne Castaneda
Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety by Yvonne Castaneda

Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety by Yvonne Castaneda

In Pork Belly Tacos with a Side of Anxiety, Yvonne Castañeda shares vibrant stories of her childhood growing up in Miami as the daughter of humble immigrants from Mexico and Cuba . . . and how she came to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

the longest match
the longest match

The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife By Betsy Brenner

The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife is a beautifully written and heartfelt memoir illustrating the trajectory from early childhood, through adolescence and early adulthood, to midlife when eating disorder thoughts and behaviors took over the author’s life. Journal entries reveal occasional negative thoughts about her weight or food in younger years, but the stressors of midlife knocked this high functioning woman off her feet.

Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat by Stephanie Covington Armstrong
Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat by Stephanie Covington Armstrong

Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat by Stephanie Covington Armstrong

Stephanie Covington Armstrong does not fit the stereotype of a woman with an eating disorder. She grew up poor and hungry in the inner city. Foster care, sexual abuse, and overwhelming insecurity defined her early years. But the biggest difference is her race: Stephanie is black.
In this moving first-person narrative, Armstrong describes her struggle as a black woman with a disorder consistently portrayed as a white woman’s problem. Trying to escape her selfhatred and her food obsession by never slowing down, Stephanie becomes trapped in a downward spiral. Finally, she can no longer deny that she will die if she doesn’t get help, overcome her shame, and conquer her addiction to using food as a weapon against herself.


Whtiney Trotter, MS, RDN/LDN, RN, RYT (she/her) is a Registered Dietitian and RN, Anti-racism Educator/Consultant and Human Trafficking Activist


Wednesdae Reim Ifrach (They/Them) REAT, ATR-BC, ATCS, LPC, NCC, CLAT, LCMHC, LPCC is Fat, Trans/Non-Binary, Queer, Disabled. They hold a master’s degree in art therapy and their specialities include Their current specialties include gender affirming care, fat and body activism, intersectional social justice, complex trauma and eating disorder treatment.


Meghan Watson (she/her) is a licensed psychotherapist, writer & consultant. She is the founder of the group practice Bloom Psychology & Wellness — a therapy collective of Black, Indigenous, South Asian, and Multi-racial therapists with a focus on building connection and fostering emotional growth in communities of colour. She shares reflections, skills and tools on how to show up as your whole self through a self compassionate and growth focused lens on her Instagram page

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC)

The comprehensive rape crisis center in the Greater Boston area provides free, confidential support and services to survivors of sexual violence ages 12 and up and their families and friends.

The Powerful Connection between Trauma & Eating Disorders

The Powerful Connection between Trauma & Eating Disorders

By Timberline Knolls Staff

Untreated trauma can disrupt your daily life — including your relationship with food and your body.

There’s a powerful link between eating disorders and trauma-related concerns such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The National Comorbidity Survey-Replication Study found that approximately 80% of people who struggled with behaviors such as restricting their food intake or bingeing and purging also reported exposure to trauma [1].

In a study of more than 100 adult female patients who have anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, 95% of the respondents reported experiencing at least one traumatic event at some point in their life. The highest number of traumatic experiences the participants reported was 11, while the average number the participants said that they experienced was four [2].

There are many different types of experiences that can be traumatic, but what connects them is that they can make a person feel like they’ve lost a sense of control or fear for their life. For the women in the study, the most common traumatic events they experienced included a life-threatening illness, the death of a loved one, and sexual assault.

Not everyone who experiences a trauma develops posttraumatic stress disorder, but about 24% of the study participants also suffered from PTSD. And nearly 70% of the participants said that they experienced their first traumatic event before they started struggling with symptoms of an eating disorder.

Understanding Trauma & Eating Disorders

So, what ties these complex conditions together? Researchers conducted five focus groups and two in-depth interviews with 20 female veterans, including one transgender woman, to understand the relationship between trauma exposure and eating disorders [1].

The participants consisted of a racially diverse group of women, with more than half being women of color (55%), including four Black women (20%), one Asian American woman (5%), and six women who reported their race as “other” (30%).

The researchers chose the participants based on their exposure to trauma and their histories of eating disorder symptoms. At the conclusion of the study, they identified three themes that connected these conditions:

  • Because of troubling or negative emotions – Some participants turned to food because they had painful or negative thoughts or emotions. In some cases, they overate because they felt enraged about the trauma they experienced. In others, they used food to punish themselves because they felt shame or guilt. Whatever they were feeling, those emotions were reflected in their eating behaviors.
  • To alleviate troubling or negative emotions – Other participants found comfort or relief from troubling thoughts or feelings from the way they ate. Food helped many participants ease anxiety, cope with anger, or create positive sensations after negative experiences. Others used food to numb negative feelings or emotions.
  • To avoid unwanted attention from perpetrators – Those who had suffered interpersonal trauma said that they engaged in disordered eating behaviors to change their weight or body shape to avoid suffering another trauma in the future. The researchers noted that their goal was to make themselves invisible to those they deemed threatening and to regain a sense of control.

Because everyone’s experiences are so different, this study offers just a glimpse at how trauma and eating disorders might affect a person. The researchers’ findings highlight how important it is to gain an understanding of the root causes of a person’s struggles with an eating disorder — including whether they have a history of trauma.

Trauma-Informed Eating Disorder Treatment
When you’re living with an eating disorder, you may not even realize that the compulsions you’re struggling with have any connection with trauma from your past. Fortunately, there are eating disorder treatment programs that use a trauma-informed approach to ensure that you receive holistic care.

You should always complete a comprehensive evaluation before taking part in eating disorder treatment so that your care team can customize your plan of care to your specific needs. This will also help your care team determine whether you may benefit from a trauma-based approach.

Trauma-informed eating disorder treatment programs typically help participants process the traumatic experiences that have been barriers to their recovery. These programs also help participants learn healthier coping strategies and relapse prevention skills to better prepare them for life’s stressors and challenges.

Living with these two conditions might seem unmanageable right now, but with appropriate treatment that uses a trauma-informed approach, it’s possible to manage the symptoms you’ve been struggling with and live the life you deserve.


[1] Breland, J. Y.; Donalson, R.; Dinh, J. V.; and Maguen, S. (2018). Trauma exposure and disordered eating: A qualitative study. Women & Health, 58(2), 160–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/03630242.2017.1282398.

[2] Tagay, S.; Schlottbohm, E.; Reyes-Rodriguez, M. L.; Repic, N.; and Senf, W. (2014). Eating disorders, trauma, PTSD, and psychosocial resources. Eating Disorders, 22(1), 33–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2014.857517.