What are some Documentaries/Movies on Netflix about Eating Disorders?

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In this blog, we will be talking about documentaries/movies on Netflix about eating disorders, and also cover what are eating disorders, types of eating disorders, causes, symptoms, and treatment. Further, we will be giving you a list of documentaries/movies on eating disorders, which air on Netflix and other places. 

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What are some Documentaries/Movies on Netflix about Eating Disorders?

There is a list of documentaries and shows on Netflix that are about eating disorders:

  • To the Bone
  • America the beautiful
  • Hungry for change
  • Freaky eaters
  • Perfect

Let us first understand eating disorders a little and then jump into the list and discuss these documentaries/movies that are based on eating disorders. 

What are feeding and eating-related disorders? 

Feeding and eating disorders are characterized by eating-related behaviours or disturbance of eating in a persistent fashion, that might result in altered absorption or consumption of food which significantly impairs psychosocial functioning or physical health. 

In DSM-5 feeding and eating disorders include rumination disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder pica, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Let us now look at these eating disorders in brief. 

Pica 

The main feature of pica is the consumption of one or more non-nutritive substances which are not considered foods over a period of at least 1 month, persistently.

It can include things like paper, soap, cloth, paint, gum, ash, clay, ice, etc. consuming these substances is considered developmentally inappropriate and also is not culturally supported or ingested. 

Pica can also be associated with other mental disorders like Autism, schizophrenia, and intellectual disability disorders. 

Rumination disorder 

Rumination disorder features repeated regurgitation of food items after eating or feeding. The condition should exist for a period of at least 1 month.  A person suffering from this disorder brings up previously swallowed and partially swallowed food, without any apparent disgust or nausea. The food is then re-chewed, thrown out of the mouth or re-swallowed. This disorder presents majorly along with intellectual disability (ID). 

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder 

As the name suggests, the individual avoids/restricts the intake of food. Significant weight loss, dependence on intravenous feeding or oral supplements, and interference with psychosocial functioning are the main features of this disorder. 

Nutritional deficiency is significant and in infants it can be life-threatening. Adults, like mentioned before, might be dependent on supplements and can also have other physical impacts such as anemia, bradycardia and hypothermia.  

When food restriction/avoidance is based on the sensory characteristics such as extreme sensitivity to appearance, color, texture, smell, etc., then such behaviour can be described as “restrictive eating,” “selective eating,” and “food neophobia.”

Anorexia Nervosa

The key features include intense fear of weight gain, activities that interfere with weight gain and energy intake restriction. All these features are persistent and the individual has significantly lower body weight than what is developmentally healthy. 

The main reason for this behavior is that the individual’s sense of shape and body weight are highly distorted. Some might feel as if they are gaining weight even if they eat a little something or might feel as if they are extremely overweight. They think whatever they perceive is correct regarding their weight. 

Bulimia Nervosa 

The essential features include repetitive episodes of binge eating, repetitive and inappropriate behaviors to compensate and to prevent weight gain and finally the distorted perceiving of one’s body. 

To put it simply, people with bulimia may secretly binge with a loss of control over their eating and then purge (self-induced), trying to get rid of the extra calories they think they may have gained. Apart from purging behaviors, they may also take laxatives, weight loss supplements, etc. they seem preoccupied with the thoughts about their weight. 

Binge-eating disorder

Binge-eating disorder features repetitive episodes of binge eating that on average occur for at least 3 months, at least once a week. 

The behaviors cause extreme distress and feature rapid eating, consumption of food until feeling uncomfortable, eating even when not hungry, eating secretly because they are embarrassed about their eating, feeling disgusted, angry, and guilty over their behavior. 

Causes and risk factors related to eating disorders 

The exact reasons that may lead to eating disorders are unknown. There may be many causes similar to that of other mental illnesses, such as: 

Genetics and biology and/or psychological or emotional health. 

The risk factors include family history; likely to occur if someone in the family is suffering or suffered from eating disorders.

People who have other mental conditions also are at the risk of developing eating disorders, especially people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Other factors include feelings of stress. 

Treatment and management of Eating disorders

Eating disorder treatment generally involves a team approach. The team typically consists of GPs, mental health professionals, and dietitians — all with experience in eating disorders. 

Treatment depends on your specific type of eating disorder. But in general, it typically includes nutrition education, psychotherapy, and medication. If your life is in danger, you may need to be hospitalized immediately.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Family-based therapy (FBT)

FBT is an evidence-based treatment for children and adolescents with eating disorders. The family is involved in ensuring that the child or other family member is eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT is widely used in the treatment of eating disorders, particularly bulimia and binge eating disorders. You’ll learn how to manage and improve your eating habits and mood, develop problem-solving skills, and explore healthier ways to deal with situations which are stressful. 

Medications

Drugs cannot cure an eating disorder. However, certain medications can help you control the urge to binge or purge, or manage over-preoccupations with food and nutrition. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help with symptoms of depression or anxiety that often accompany eating disorders.

Documentaries/Movies on Netflix about eating disorders 

To the Bone

One of the most famous movies on Netflix about eating disorders is “to the bone”. It stars Lily Collins as Ellen and Keanu Reeves as Dr. William Beckham. It was written and directed by Marti Noxon. 

In this movie, Ellen is an unruly 20-year-old girl who suffers from anorexia nervosa and spends the better part of her teenage years being shifted through various recovery programs. But she only finds that she always seems several pounds lighter every time. 

In order to find a solution, her family, which is portrayed as dysfunctional, agrees to send her to a group home for youths in recovery, led by a non-traditional doctor. Surprised by the unusual rules, Ellen continues on the path to discover herself, confront her addiction and practice self-acceptance.

America the Beautiful

Darryl Roberts is the director who sheds light on America’s obsession with unrealistic beauty standards, obsession with outer body appearance, fashion, and pop culture

Hungry for Change

This documentary explores weight reduction, diet, and food industry secrets that they don’t want you to know about, such as deceptive strategies to keep you going back for more.

In this documentary, you’ll learn what’s preventing individuals from attaining the bodies and health they desire.

My 600-LB Life: Melissa’s Story

Melissa Morris, who weighs 673 pounds, had gastric bypass surgery to help her overcome her life-threatening obesity, but her recovery is not without its own setbacks. This Texas mother must also deal with the impact of her disease on her self-esteem and marriage.

Freaky Eaters

“Freaky Eaters” is a TLC documentary that depicts the problems faced by those who have a food habit. They can confront the agonizing truth underlying their food cravings and recover control of their diets and lives with professional assistance.

Perfect Illusions

The lives of four families who have been affected by an eating disorder are told in this film. 

Families of children with eating disorders or even adults with the condition will benefit from this documentary, as it not only provides insight into the complexities of the illness, but it may also create a sense of connection with others who have gone through similar experiences.

Embrace- the documentary

Taryn Brumfitt, a body image activist, directed the documentary Embrace. It delves into concerns of body image and self-hatred. This documentary, which has been described as “inspiring and entertaining,” urges viewers to question their feelings about themselves and their bodies, while also showing the destructive influence that the media can have in portraying what is considered as a “ideal” and “healthy” body. It is required watching for anyone who is battling with a poor body image and seeking positive reinforcement.

Other movies and documentaries related to or involving eating disorders are as follows: 

  • My Skinny Sister by Sanna Lenken (2015)
  • Sharing the Secret by Katt Shea (2000) 
  • Perfect Body, directed by by Douglas Barr (1997) 
  • Secret Between Friends, directed by James A. Contner (1996) 
  • Thin directed by Lauren Greenfield (2006). 

Conclusion

We explored eating disorders, types of eating disorders, treatment of eating disorders, and provided a list of documentaries/movies with eating disorders. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Documentaries/Movies on Netflix about Eating Disorders

Is not eating a coping mechanism? 

An eating disorder can act partly as a coping mechanism. Many people who suffer from anorexia describe feeling the need to have control in a world where they feel they otherwise do not. Food restriction and avoiding can hence provide a sense of security, order, or structure that feels reassuring. 

How do you cope with anorexia nervosa? 

Proper treatment is necessary to feel back on track while recovering from anorexia nervosa. Other things which can be practiced to feel better include, setting proper goals and sticking to them, wearing outfits which you like or prefer, taking care of yourself and not being very self-critical, practicing smart eating habits like serving yourself in a smaller plate etc. 

Which eating disorder is the most severe?

While there are several eating disorders and each of them have their own disadvantages. Anorexia nervosa is considered quite dangerous and severe.

What is the movie about the girl with anorexia?

The movie is to the Bone is a 2017 American drama film, starring Lily Collins as Ellen and Keanu Reeves as Dr. William Beckham. It was written and directed by Marti Noxon. written and directed by Marti Noxon. The film follows a young woman, portrayed by Lily Collins. She is seen battling anorexia nervosa. 

What are some other documentaries revolving around eating disorders? 

Some other documentaries include Embrace, released in the year 2016, I am Maris: portrait of a young yogi released in the year 2018. 

Who directed ‘to the bone’?

Marti Noxon is the director of popular Netflix drama, ‘To the Bone’

References 

Abraham, S., & Llewellyn-Jones, D. (1984). Eating disorders: The facts. New York: Oxford University Press.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). 

Birmingham, C. L. (2011). Physical effects of eating disorders. In J. Alexander & J. Treasure (Eds.), A collaborative approach to eating disorders (pp. 93–101). New York: Taylor & Francis.

McElroy, S. L., Guerdjikova, A. I., O’Melia, A. M., Mori, N., & Keck, P. E., Jr. (2010). Pharmacotherapy of eating disorders. In W. S. Agras (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of eating disorders. Oxford library of psychology (pp. 417–451). New York: Oxford University Press. 

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/to_the_bone
https://www.healthline.com/health/eating-disorders-causes-risk-factors#treatment
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353609

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