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Unraveling the ADHD & Eating Disorder Connection

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Unraveling the ADHD & Eating Disorder Connection

In this eye-opening episode of “Unraveling ADHD,” we explore the complex relationship between ADHD and eating disorders, and its impact on women. 

Join Randi Owsley, LMSW and Jessica Bullwinkle, LMFT, two licensed psychotherapists with 22 years of expertise in the women's mental health field, as they delve into coping strategies for eating disorders in ADHD, managing ADHD and eating disorders, and the cognitive and emotional links between them. 

Whether you're struggling with self-identity, feeling alone, or in need of coping skills and self-care, this episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in gaining insights into ADHD, nutrition, and eating disorder challenges.

Get information on the intricate connection between ADHD and unhealthy eating habits, and learn more about coping strategies for eating disorders in ADHD. Discover what you should know about ADHD and eating disorders in adults, including the prevalence of ADHD binge eating disorders. 

By gaining insights into these complex relationships, you'll be better equipped to find resources to help manage these challenges and improve your overall well-being. Understanding the underlying causes and factors can empower you to implement effective coping skills and tools, ultimately leading to a healthier and more balanced life.

We'll unravel the ADHD and eating disorder link, providing valuable insights into the correlation between these two conditions. Additionally, we'll explore the concept of mindful eating for ADHD individuals, offering practical strategies for fostering a healthier relationship with food. 

Stay tuned for these informative and engaging episodes that promise to empower listeners with newfound knowledge and practical advice.

Questions and Topics Covered: 
What is the link between ADHD and eating disorders?
What are the common types of eating disorders associated with ADHD?
What are the symptoms of an eating disorder in someone with ADHD?
How does ADHD contribute to the development of eating disorders?
Can ADHD medication help with eating disorders?
What are some effective treatments for eating disorders in individuals with ADHD?
Can ADHD medication worsen an eating disorder?
Can an eating disorder cause ADHD-like symptoms?
How can I support a loved one with both ADHD and an eating disorder?
Is it possible to recover from an eating disorder and ADHD?

#ADHDEatingDisorders #ADHDandFood #ADHDNutritionTips #BingeEatingADHD #ADHDBodyImage #ADHDEatingHabits #ADHDBulimiaConnection #MindfulEatingADHD

Transcript – ADHD and Eating Disorders: The Link Explained

Randi: 0:02

1, 2, 3, 4. Hi friends. It's Randy and Jess, and we're gonna cutJess: 0:07

the bullshit and let's get into women's mental health.Randi: 0:13

Welcome to the podcast unapologetically All over the place with Randy and Jess, where we talk about women's mental health issues and how it's all normal. This is part ofJess: 0:21

our A D H D series that we'll be exploring throughout 2023.Randi: 0:24

In this episode, we're going to compare D H D and eating disorders and go over how they are different and how they are also linked and somewhat the same. Right? TotallyJess: 0:34

crazy. Okay, and check out our website, Randy and jess podcast.com for more resources.Randi: 0:39

Oh, and we're also gonna talk about why they're often misdiagnosed.Jess: 0:44

Ah, okay. Yeah. Yeah, because you're right, they get missed, right?Randi: 0:48

Either they're kind of mixed up overlapped, or you can have both of them at the same time. Or maybe, you know, you think you have one or you might have the other. So have you ever had theseJess: 1:00

thoughts? Why do I always crave carbsRandi: 1:03

and sugar? Why can't I lose weight?Jess: 1:06

Where does the need to eat? A ton of food come from late at night. There's a link between h, ADHD and eating disorders.Randi: 1:14

Yes. So re researchers have found a link between A D H D, obesity being overweight and eating disorders among adolescents, teenagers, and adults.Jess: 1:26

Right. They're saying that adolescent females are more, are going, oh my gosh, adolescent females with a d h. Are almost four times more likely to develop an eating disorder, right? Because you know the way our brains are. So, but before we go into it, let's talk about some eating disorders and like the, the main ones and, and explain those. Okay. SoRandi: 1:51

there's bulimia, nerv. Which is, we often say bulimia, but also we call it binging and purging. And so that's by when you eat a bunch and then you binge, which is your, you feel like uncontrolled, and you just want to eat a large amount of food in a short, um, period of time. And then you usually have like feelings of like self-loathing and anxiety, like after you have binged and then you can kind of like, Cause yourself to like throw up. BecauseJess: 2:23

of that, it's also not just throwing up true, but people will also, like, they'll do laxatives excess exercise. They'll fast, they'll use diuretics, whatever it is to, so they won't gain the weight.Randi: 2:36

Yes. And I would say like, um, I have a family member who. Did like the excessive exercising. Mm-hmm. And my sister actually found one of her roommates back in college, almost dead because she had taken so many Chinese herbal supplements Oh. For like a weight loss, like diuretic thing. And she was like, um, basically her body was like losing all control of everything. And she ended up in the ICU for almost like three weeks. And my, cuz my sister had found her unconscious in her bedroom because she was doing that. She was so hyper-focused on trying to lose. Wow. Anyways, so, and then there's anorexia nervosa, which we call. Anorexia. Yeah, that's, she looks at me. I'm like, ugh. Ok. Which is, which is not eating.Jess: 3:23

Yeah. That's the starving yourself basically. Right? Yeah. Just not eating. Cuz you don't want to gain weight. And typically people who with anorexia are veryRandi: 3:33

underweight. Yes. And they're just like fearful. Yes. So fearful of gaining, gaining weight.Jess: 3:38

So there's binge eating, which is. 30% of adults with A D H D are found to be binge eating,Randi: 3:45

right? Yes. Yes. And that's when you eat just a large amount of food. And that kind of goes hand in hand with the bulimia, nerv, nervosa, bulimia. Some people just have the bulimia where they binge eat and then they purge, and then some people just binge eat.Jess: 3:59

Right? And binge eating typically is what leads to obesity. Mm-hmm. right? Um, and that's when you eat a ton of food in a short amount of time. Right. And. They're finding that there is a link with a D H D and obesity, specifically withRandi: 4:15

binge eating. Yes. And why? Because we lack the stimuli that we need in our D H D brains. And so when we get like this rush of like binge eating this sugar intake, if you will, or like carbs or like anything, it's almost like a high and you're kind of like fueling this need and then it's like a reward based. Mm-hmm.Jess: 4:38

So basically overeating to satisfy our brain's need for stimulation. Right. There's also issues with, um, like sensory processing, right? We know sometimes some people with a D H D, just like with autism mm-hmm. they can't eat certain textures. Right? Right. But also what what that does is it makes it so they have problems with, um, like.Randi: 5:01

Understanding if you're full or if you're hungry, you're not. Get your, your receptors aren't going off. Like if you're full, are you hungry? Like you're not, your brain isn't communicating with your body like what you need. Sometimes when you have a d h D, you're processing center is kind of messed up. If you're singing a bit like a computer, like, beep boo, beep boo. Like there's a disruption in it and it, you're not getting the message sometimes. Well, it's alsoJess: 5:26

why, like, you know, I'll buy bananas and like the kid will eat like all the bananas in two days. Right? And then I'm like, oh, we're still eating bananas. And then all of a sudden they stop. Mm-hmm. Right? That's an ADHD thing too, is that when kids go through, or adults go through and they want certain things and then they're like, I'm never eating that again.Randi: 5:43

Yeah. So I hyperfocus on a food I really like. Yes. And I'll only eat that for a period of time, and then I'll be like, I never want to eat that again. Right. And that comes with our inability sometimes to self. Those things because our brain patterns are just not the same as everybody else is. Right.Jess: 6:00

So I can't really do a meal prep for like a week because on Friday and Thursday I'm like, I don't even want this. Right?Randi: 6:05

You're over it. I'm over it. Like I, I can't do meal planning either I've tried and then I'm like, Nope, that just doesn't sound good anymore. Like what? I wanted the recipes. I pulled all the food I bought and it's like that goes out the window and then food is getting wasted. So we had to learn to kind of create a different cycle with.Jess: 6:21

Yeah. And they also talk about how inattention is it as well. Right. Because we will zone out, not realize what we're eating. Mm-hmm. or we're not paying attention to what our body is saying. Right. Right. So sometimes that's why we will alsoRandi: 6:34

overeat. Right. And many people too with A D H D have food sensitivities and this can also go alongside the sensory. Too, because you might be extra sensitive to like the food, the smell, the texture, even the noise like of eating and things like that might make it harder to function and eat or you know, or eat more than we should. Like if you're like, oh my God, I love this, I love this so much. And you're just getting like so much enjoyment of it. And then you're like, wait, what did I just do? Like I overate, like I couldn't slow down, like I couldn't regulate.Jess: 7:09

Right. Like Girl scout cookies, you can't eat just one. It's the wholeRandi: 7:12

box. So, and did you know that Girl Scouts sell more in that time period than Oreo altogether in the year?Jess: 7:20

Wow. I didRandi: 7:21

not know that. Yeah, that's crazy. That's somes good marketing.Jess: 7:24

They, yeah, they come out once a year, so you gotta get your cookies. Right, right. Okay. So. Why is all of this, right? We talked about our brain earlier and you mentioned, um, in a previous episode, uh, about dopamine, right? Mm-hmm. So what is dopamine?Randi: 7:39

So dopamine is kind of like the chemical that we, that is released into our nerve cells. Into everybody's, yeah, into everybody's. And when you have a D H D, you have a lack of this chemical, um, in your brain. So we are wired differently and we. Seeking that out because we're not getting enough of it. Right. So that causes impulsivity, like poor planning, you know, emotional or regulation. So your emotions are all over the place. And that leads to craving things like sugar, alcohol, carbs, carbs, carbs, you know, things like that. And, and so we're, we're seeking out these things. In, you know, lieu of this. It can cause these kind of like binging and purging and things like that that go hand in hand with this. So that's why there's such a high correlation with it. Yeah. TheyJess: 8:31

do find also is that there's a medication that is being used, I can't think of the name right now. There's a medication that's used for A D H D and it's for binging um, foods. Yes. Um, ByRandi: 8:44

Vance. Yeah, that one. So by Vance I'm on it. Thank you. Um, is, um, they use it a lot for people with binge eating and A D H D because it helps regulate both of them. And my experience is being on it, this is my personal experience, this is not medical advice, is that it has helped me with my binge eating because I was seeking out that. And so, and I wasn't able to regulate, you know, and my weight got up to like 300 pounds because I was, I also have P C O S and hormone issues. So like all of that combined, it was like lose lose for me. So it would help, it helped me slow down and realize how to eat my food that I didn't need all this extra, you know? And so I. Compartmentalize, like what I needed to eat, what was good for me, what was nutritious, what was bad, and things like that.Jess: 9:37

So they actually, there's also a diet too. Mm-hmm. right? Uh, they call it the dopamine diet. Yes. Um, and that is really, I mean, a lot of us are probably craving this anyway. Mm-hmm. like cheese. Oh my gosh. There's always cheese in my house, right? Yes. Beef.Randi: 9:52

Chicken, fish. Eggs. Eggs, yes. Eggs. So like high protein? Yes. Right. Good nuts, good fats, like, you know, good. Um, uh, like cashews and like, things like non excess, but like things, you know, omegas Yeah, those omega, omega three s usually we are really low and like omega three s and, and vitamin Ds.Jess: 10:12

Mm-hmm. Those are usually things that we're low in. And so these are things that these kind of foods usually have with them. Right. Um, and so those are one way you can actually kind of get that dopamine or that happy, that happy, uh, yeah. Chemical hormone thing, right. GoingRandi: 10:27

right. Um, and, and there's lots of other things too. Like they talk about like dopamine dressing or like dopamine nails or things like confusing. Wait,Jess: 10:35

wait, what is a dopamine dressing? And dopamine. Dopamine.Randi: 10:38

Nails. Dopamine. Dressing is dressing and colors that make you happy. They're like bright and fun and that you love. And same thing with like, there's a whole, um, color psychology. So like, colors can influence the way that you feel. So it's like pining your nails like a bright color that like can rainy snails are always some bright color. Yeah. right now I'm actually have neutral. Neutral. I nails neutral enough. I know, of course. But, um, so you, there are things that you can do to increase your dopamine levels, um, you know, sand's medication too, like. Even just trying something new, a new hobby, like, you know, making a list and completing tasks on it. Oh man. Being ableJess: 11:13

to cross something off. I love. ThatRandi: 11:15

is so exciting. I will still to this day, write everything down and even if I've already done it, I'll write it again so I can cross it down andJess: 11:22

cross it off. Um, listening to music that you enjoy or you know, a podcastRandi: 11:26

that you enjoy. Yes. Also whole like dopamine, like albums and stuff. You can like search up like on, you know, apple music or like Spotify and stuff like that, that like help you, you know, elevate like those feelings. And you'll notice too, like a lot of people who have a D H D will put on like music to like get tasks and stuff done because it can also help us focus. Yes. Because we need that additional stimuli. And so these are the things that can help us when we're like, have an eating disorder and we're like, We're, we're straining cuz we wanna binge or you wanna purge or things like that. Like try to implement some of these other things that can give you kind of like that rush and help you balance out. Yeah, IJess: 12:07

think I listened to tool the entire way through grad school. Yeah. I think that that drum line just got me through mm-hmm. all of my studying. Right. And being able to concentrate andRandi: 12:18

focus. Yeah. It was like, why do I like, um, like. like rave music, like so much like when I was like studying it. Was that where they say like, you know, classical music and stuff too, like when you study, like it elevates mm-hmm. Like because your, your brain because it's like you're, it's stimulating different parts of your brain that you're normally when you have d h D is getting understimulated, it'sJess: 12:39

also having, um, more frequent meals, like snacks. Mm-hmm. is a good thing too, right? Yeah. If you can snack healthy, right. Um, I used to have like nuts. I would snack on. Still to this day. Yeah. Right. Those are reallyRandi: 12:51

good. Um, and that's what I did too. When I, when I worked on my relationship with food, I broke down that I needed to eat like at least six times a day. Mm-hmm. I needed to have a little, I'm, I, I'm not a big breakfast person. I'm not a big lunch person either, but like, I needed to just have those little tiny snacks. A lot of times they're like, don't snack, don't snack. Well, for me and for my brain, that's what I need. That's what works for my personality and my schedule and things like that. So I'm at least getting that nutrition. Binging, you know, and waiting like all day long and then eating, you know, all night long.Jess: 13:24

Yeah. I mean, the other part, it's also exercise. Mm-hmm. getting out and getting some exercise, getting some vitamin D, jumping on your bike, your treadmill, whatever itRandi: 13:33

is that you're doing, not day access. But a healthyJess: 13:35

amount. Yeah. And a healthy amount. You know, sometimes they'll say, if you can't do an hour, do 10, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. That's, that's awesome. Especially for our brains. Um, you can try meditation, try some yoga. Mm-hmm. which sounds counterintuitive, but you know, it, it is not, itRandi: 13:51

is. I really like you would think, I love yoga and I think because it does give me like, Moment to just pause because I do have a hard time relaxing. Mm-hmm. And so, um, just to allow that and that, uh, the meditation and stuff, when I listen, I do guided meditation and stuff like that. Yes. Because it walks me through it. So I'm still being stimulated, but in a relaxing way. So it works, you know, for me. But it's like, why can these be misdiagnosed though?Jess: 14:21

So a lot of times I think when you look at medi like traditional medicine, they'll say, you're overweight. You need to lose weight. Mm-hmm. they're not looking at why are you obese, right? They're assuming that you're obese because you're lazy, orRandi: 14:36

that you're just eating the wrong foods.Jess: 14:37

You're eating the wrong foods, or you have no will control. Willpower, right?Randi: 14:42

Mm-hmm. and this goes into medical gaslighting that we talk about in episode 13, which is really important. We need to go to the source of why these things are happening, not just like you're fat or like you're anorexic. Or you're underweight, or you're overweight. No, no, no. It's like w let's go back to the beginning and where is this stemmingJess: 15:02

from? Right. And I think. They are finding more and more that if they're going to treat the A D H D, right? Mm-hmm. then we're not going to have the obesity that goes along with it. Right. And so, you know, I, until they start looking at the why instead versus the blaming, and that goes back to that gaslighting piece, right? Yeah. Um, I remember, you know, I used, there was a, in California, um, I had. Uh, uh, an insurance plan. I don't wanna say the name, okay, but, you know, they would, you go in for your toe hurting and they'd say, oh, you're overweight. Right? You go in for, you know, something else. Oh, you gotta lose weight, right? Everything is, you have to lose weight instead of going, why? Mm-hmm. why are you this? Way they assume it's because you're just eating too damn much. Okay. Yeah. But whyRandi: 15:49

mm-hmm. and I think like a lot of it comes down to too, is we still don't have a lot of research on this stuff. Like, I just had my gallbladder removed too in like an emergency surgery. And I was like, really? Like, why, why is this happening? Wh uh, what could cause this? What is this? Because they were like, well, do you drink alcohol? And I was like, no. And that was like their only thing. And then I said, well, what are the other reasons? And they were like, um, you're fat or you're over 40. And I was, Really. Oh and fair. Yeah. Or fair. Fair skin. Fair, fair skin. And they were like, they're like, well, you're not fat. And I said, well, I used to be. Thank you very much. You know, but again, fat shaming, you know? Oh,Jess: 16:23

she was hot that she was so madRandi: 16:25

about that. Yeah. And um, so I was like, people talk to me like that cuz like I'm thinner now not knowing. That I used to weigh like 300 pounds like most of my life. And so it's very interesting being on that other end of the conversation and letting them know they're being assholes of the way that they talk about people being overweight. But I was like, that's not a reason. Like let's get like to the core of why this is happening. And I think we need to advocate for ourselves and we need to ask these hard questions and we need to. These other professionals to be like, Hey, look at this. Help me find the source of this. So I am not being misdiagnosed, or my kids are not being misdiagnosed. Mm-hmm.Jess: 17:07

Yeah. I, I, I, I think that we're just going to find that there's such a huge link in, in obesity and, and the foods, right. we talk about, I let people know all the time to get rid of red dye. Yeah. Right. Get rid of Red Dye 40, especially if you're a D H D because it just triggers our brains. It isn't good anyway. And I think we're like the only country that allows it. Yeah. Other countries don't, and it's in everything. When you start trying to look at what has Red Dye 40 and what, and then take it away from, becauseRandi: 17:37

there, because there are a lot of chemicals in our food here in the us Yes. The processor, and it's not necessarily. They say like it's not really like food when you have a D H D, not good food. It's food with chemicals in it. Mm-hmm. that impact us because we really do, like, I read some really alarming statistic like a while ago that was saying like, we don't need as much embalming fluid as we did previously when we die because our bodies are so well preserved from all the preservatives we eat in our food. It's really gross. That's so gross. And on that note, yeah, we're gonna leave youJess: 18:14

Ew. Okay. Get ridRandi: 18:15

of all the chemicals. Look. Yeah. And so just do these things and dig into the source so you can find out if there is a link between ADHD or an eating disorder. If you have that, you know, struggle in your life. And we hope we have helped you guys dig through some of this.Jess: 18:31

Yeah. Ew. Okay, All right, we'll talk to you again later guys.Randi: 18:34

Bye. Thanks for listening and normalizing mental health with. Don'tJess: 18:39

forget to check out our free resources and favorites on our website, unapologetically randy and jess.comRandi: 18:45

like and share this episode and tune in next week.

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Episode 34 – ADHD and Eating Disorders

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