Is your disordered eating triggered by the warmer weather and the upcoming summer activities? Could your eating disorder be a coping mechanism to avoid difficult emotions? How can you manage your triggers and improve your emotional responses? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about eating-disordered triggers and how to manage them constructively.


  • Summer triggers
  • Eating disorders as maladaptive coping mechanisms
  • Managing your responses
  • Managing your triggers

Summer triggers

Put simply, a trigger is something that brings on a reaction, and those reactions can vary depending on what the trigger is. When we get triggered, we can have all sorts of emotions. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)
A trigger is an event, good or bad, that brings out a strong emotional reaction in you. When someone experiences a powerful trigger that is unpleasant or negative, they may instinctively try to distract themselves. In the case of the seasons changing from winter to summer, people who suffer from eating disorders may be triggered by the sudden reappearance of diets, swimsuits, and outdoor lifestyles.

Eating disorders as maladaptive coping mechanisms

If you are someone with an eating disorder and you get triggered, [it is likely] that your eating disorder symptoms will increase [because] your eating disorder thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are ways for you to get your mind off of whatever happened [to trigger you]. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)
Eating disorders are often – subconsciously – used as behaviors to distract an individual from the emotional turmoil that they are experiencing. There are many reasons and possibilities as to why someone may develop an eating disorder, and this is a prominent one. Eating disorders can therefore be maladaptive coping mechanisms. These are things that people do to try to make themselves feel better when, in reality, they harm them to the same if not to a worse degree.

Managing your responses

People may have a strong desire to stop disordered eating behaviors, but they cannot seem to fully shake them. This could be because they have not yet learned how to manage their disrupted emotional responses healthily with more constructive and positive coping mechanisms.
You are turning to the food to escape, numb out from, or distract yourself from some negative thought or emotion that resulted from a trigger of yours. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)
Realize that your eating disorder is a temporary fix that you may have developed to help you cope with anxiety and emotional turmoil.

Managing your triggers

  • Notice where you feel triggered: who you are with, what you are doing, where you are, what has been said
  • Consider ending or changing relationships that are not healthy for you
  • Get rid of old clothing that no longer fits you that you will not likely wear any time soon
  • Take time to journal, once you feel calmer, about what happened right before and during the time you experienced the trigger



I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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