Why is there so little knowledge of eating disorders in the medical field? Which false beliefs are people unintentionally perpetuating about eating disorders? How can the loved ones of ED sufferers be supported? In this podcast, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about eating disorder awareness with Johanna Kandel.


After recovering from a long battle with various eating disorders, Johanna Kandel founded The National Alliance for Eating Disorders (“The Alliance”) as a way to give back and make a difference. Since founding The Alliance in October 2000, Johanna has brought information, awareness, and support to hundreds of thousands of individuals nationally and internationally. In addition, she facilitates free, weekly support groups, helps thousands of people gain information and find the help they need. Johanna has spent a lot of time meeting with numerous members of Congress and was part of the first-ever Eating Disorder Roundtable at the White House. She has received many awards for her ongoing outreach and advocacy work, has appeared on national television programs and was profiled in the New York Times, Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Glamour Magazine. Visit The National Alliance for Eating Disorders and connect with them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Visit Johanna's website and connect with her on Instagram and LinkedIn. FREEBIE: Check out The Alliance's Free Resource Library.


  • Why is there menial education in healthcare about eating disorders?
  • Providing support for the loved ones
  • How do I know if I have an eating disorder?

Why is there menial education in healthcare about eating disorders?

  • Misconceptions: many people believe that eating disorders only affect women, which is false.
This might not be a popular opinion [which is] that eating disorders, even though [it] doesn’t discriminate against who [it] affects, are known as a female-based or female-identifying based disorder. (Johanna Kandel)
Statistically, medical conditions that affect women and those who identify as women are not given the same level of importance, concern, attention, or funding as medical conditions that affect men.
  • Misinformation: there are some beliefs that eating disorders are illnesses of choice or vanity, which is false.
Eating disorders are bio-psycho-social disorders and are genetically brain-based illnesses. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect not only the person involved but their families and loved ones as well.
  • Lack of education: eating disorders are currently poorly researched and not given enough urgency. There is still a lot to learn.
The lack of [education] means less awareness, and lack of research money, which all play a part in it. (Johanna Kandel)

Providing support for the loved ones

The person suffering from the eating disorders must receive love, encouragement, and support, but it is also vital that their loved ones are provided for as well. It is grueling to go through mental illnesses and to see your loved one suffer. Eating disorders affect everyone; the person who experiences it as well as their family and friends.
To normalize it, to normalize the experience and not feel alone in it. I think that’s one of the biggest things about group and support groups, to be amongst people who are your tribe. (Dr. Cristina Castagnini)

How do I know if I have an eating disorder?

If you are unsure but think you may be at risk of having an eating disorder, contact the available helplines and consult with a professional. Seek help by contacting any of the links provided below to get in contact with Johanna and her team.



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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