FeaturesAug/Sep 2012 Issue

Celiac Disease and Eating Disorders

Hope Ahead

Although Beth struggled with her eating disorder for several years after her celiac diagnosis, looking back, she thinks it was a turning point. Her eating disorder gradually got better—the intervals between each starve-binge cycle, which typically lasted a few months, started to get longer.

Beth attributes part of her recovery to the resolution of her bloating and feelings of fullness. A slow but significant improvement in her depression helped, too. Beth suspects her depression had a lot to do with her urges to restrict.

“It’s been almost three years since I felt like I was really battling my eating disorder,” says Beth. “I’m not going to say I’ll never have a problem again but this has been the longest stretch I’ve ever gone.”

Danielle Arigo, co-author of the 2012 study on celiac disease, disordered eating and depression, says we have a long way to go in understanding all of these issues and what drives them. “Our study was just a first step in looking at behaviors and experiences. However, paying attention to the emotional functioning of women with celiac disease is potentially a huge area of opportunity for improving quality of life.”

“Having a chronic illness isn’t easy. Having to manage a special diet isn’t easy. These things take maintenance and management for years down the line,” she says. “Perhaps we should be asking patients: How are you coping?”

The complete names of two women in this article were withheld at their request.

Medical writer Christine Boyd lives in the Baltimore, Maryland, area.


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