Defining Attachment Styles & What Yours Means

You’ve probably heard about “attachment styles” before, whether it was from your therapist or in a psychology class! Attachment theory was coined in the 1960s by British psychologist John Bowlby and American-Canadian psychologist Mary Ainsworth. Attachment theory basically describes how present and responsive your caregivers were to your needs as a baby! It drives the growth of your social, emotional and cognitive development and influences how you form relationships throughout your life (so, pretty much everything about you). 

Now, you might be thinking “so my caregivers literally shaped who I am today?” And you’re right! The patterns from childhood tend to be pretty similar as you navigate adulthood, and can also be affected by your relationships. But, luckily, your attachment style is flexible and adaptable (yay)! We’re going to walk you through what the different types are, what they mean, and how yours changes over time.  

What Are Attachment Styles? 

Attachment styles are your first form of coping mechanisms when you’re young. It’s what helps comfort you in difficult moments and what helps you navigate the world around you when you’re eventually left to your own devices! A common test that researchers have used on infants to assess their attachment involves separating them from their caregiver for a short period of time. And, how that child reacts can mean one of four things:

If the child is super upset at the caregiver leaving, but still welcomes them back with wanting a hug, their attachment is secure

A child who is upset by the separation and is still anxious when the caregiver returns is likely experiencing an anxious-resistant attachment.

An avoidant attachment would show up as a child who is fairly unphased by the separation and doesn’t exactly welcome the caregiver’s return. 

And, lastly, if a child is confused by the caregiver’s return and responds with resistance or violence, they have a disorganized attachment (usually caused by childhood trauma, where the caregiver may be threatening and not a place for safety).    

Types of Attachment Styles

Childhood attachment issues take on similar names when you grow up. BUT, adult attachment styles tend to be a little more dimensional — meaning you may experience anxiety and avoidance at different levels; whether high, low or somewhere in between! You may also exhibit different attachment patterns depending on the relationship.

Here are the core four attachment styles in adulthood:

  • Secure
  • Anxious-preoccupied (ambivalent)
  • Dismissive-avoidant 
  • Fearful-avoidant (disorganized)

Anxious-preoccupied folks tend to have high anxiety and low avoidance. Meanwhile, those with a dismissive-avoidant attachment usually show low anxiety and high avoidance, and fearful-avoidants generally experience and show both high anxiety and high avoidance! Oh, and all three of the above are classified as insecure.  

What Is Insecure Attachment?

Let’s take a look at secure vs insecure attachment because they shape your relationship stability and emotional availability! In short, secure attachments are more likely to be able to provide secure love and receive love while maintaining individuation, whereas insecure attachments tend to be less so. Let’s dissect that a little more! 

If you have a secure attachment, your caregivers were likely available, sensitive, responsive and accepting. They gave you freedom but were also there to set rules and provide security and comfort. They played with you and reassured you when you needed it. And, as a result, you have learned how to trust, have developed healthy self-esteem, learned to provide love to others and receive love in return. You are in touch with your feelings, and generally have successful relationships! (But no, this doesn’t mean people with secure attachments are perfect!) 

Now let’s turn our attention to insecure attachment styles.


With an anxious-preoccupied attachment, your caregivers were likely very inconsistent with their care — sometimes they were there and sometimes they weren’t. You tend to become sheltered, because you can’t rely on that parent figure for protection, and act clingy or demanding in hopes of getting their attention! This results in a lot of anger, reassurance-seeking and distrust over the years.  


Parental figures who minimized feelings, rejected requests, and didn’t help with difficult tasks will most likely have left you with a dismissive-avoidant attachment. You learn to become self-reliant, shut down your emotions, and not turn to your caregivers when you’re distressed — because making your negative emotions known hasn’t gotten you any support before! 


A fearful-avoidant attachment is usually caused by caregivers who ridiculed, rejected and/or frightened you. Basically, they took their own unresolved trauma out on you and caused you trauma by doing so. You start creating behaviours that make you feel somewhat safe, like becoming aggressive towards your parental figures, refusing any form of care from them, and just becoming super self-reliant. However, this type of attachment is unpredictable and can look consistently different.

Attachment Styles Through The Years

After reading all of that, it’s probably easy to see how attachment styles stick with you over the years. It’s not easy to break patterns that were ingrained in your lil’ brain when you were barely able to walk and it’s almost like a security blanket to keep them around. But, as we’ll show you shortly, having an insecure attachment can make it difficult to form and keep relationships! So, let’s see what we can do about it.

Attachment Styles In Relationships

Alright, now that we’ve established that you’ve likely carried these attachment styles with you throughout adulthood, we can see what it looks like in relationships! Whether with close friends or in romantic relationships, there are a few different characteristics you’ll take on based on how you were treated by your caregivers in infancy (just lovely, right?). 

Here are 6 ways each of the different attachment styles show up in relationships


  • Have higher emotional intelligence
  • Able to draw healthy boundaries
  • Happy alone or in a relationship
  • Able to give and receive healthy intimacy
  • Communicate issues well
  • Able to grieve, learn from relationships, and move on


  • Feel nervous and insecure in relationships
  • Many stressors: jealousy, possessiveness, neediness, etc. 
  • Automatic negative thinking or distrust
  • Constantly needing validation or positive reinforcement
  • May turn to emotionally turbulent relationships
  • Struggle to be alone  


  • Very self-sufficient and independent, emotionally and behaviourally
  • Fear of intimacy that makes you vulnerable 
  • Need freedom and push someone away when they get too close
  • Other priorities trump relationships (work, individuality, social life, personal projects, etc.)
  • May have commitment issues and prefer being single 
  • Lots of acquaintances, but few really close relationships


  • Experience a lot of grief, abandonment and abuse
  • Inner conflict because you crave intimacy but are also afraid of it 
  • Fear of losing yourself in a relationship
  • Have a hard time relying on others 
  • Suspicious of other people’s intentions or actions
  • Push people away and only have few very close relationships

Can Attachment Styles Change?

Okay, so that info dump was probably A LOT to take in! You might be questioning your entire upbringing and all past relationships at this point. But don’t worry, we’ve got some good news! Your attachment style can change and shift over time. The first step is figuring out what you want to change, and the second is to actually take that step! 

There are two ways you can do this. First, you can find someone with a secure attachment style to connect with (easier said than done, but very effective)! A secure person has the ability to be willing to grow with you and have those difficult conversations when you choose to open up to them. In short, they may help you heal a little bit! Relearning patterns through security is helpful because we can begin to shift when we’re feeling safe and seen. 

Second, you can see a mental health professional! Therapy, whether it’s individual or through couples therapy, is always a great option for working through trauma and finding out where it stems from. Once you’re able to actively recognize why an insecure attachment style causes you to act a certain way, you can incorporate some internal practices to help break the cycle!  

Anxiety Attack vs Panic Attack: How to Tell the Difference

Pop quiz! What is the difference between an anxiety attack vs panic attack? Are they the same thing? NOPE! As much as you might think they are the same, they’re actually two different kinds of experiences and conditions. Good thing that quiz wasn’t graded, hey? Just kidding, you’re still an A+ student in our eyes! 

What Is a Panic Attack? 

A panic attack is a scary thing to experience. Your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest, you feel numb and tingly, you’re short of breath, and it feels like you ACTUALLY might shit yourself. Welcome, friend! You’re having a panic attack. 

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 to its close friends), panic attacks are a period of intense discomfort that includes at least four of the following: 

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate 
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling or shaking 
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering 
  • Feeling of choking 
  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • Nausea or abdominal distress 
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint 
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself) 
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy” 
  • Fear of dying 
  • Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensation) 
  • Chills or heat sensations 

Well that doesn’t sound like fun, hey? Panic attacks feel like crap, but they aren’t uncommon. They like to accompany anxiety disorders and stress. You wouldn’t happen to know anyone who feels anxious or stressed, would you? Here’s a link to another article we’ve published on how to deal with a panic attack.

What Is an Anxiety Attack? 

This is where it gets a bit tricky. Anxiety attacks aren’t recognized by the DSM-5 – only panic attacks, so what an anxiety attack is and what it looks like is really in the eye of the beholder. Or in this case, the anxiety-haver! 

So, what does an anxiety attack feel like? Well, to complicate matters, it can feel similar to a panic attack, and that’s where people get tripped up about the difference between the two. You can also experience a panic attack and anxiety attack at the same time. UGH, SO CONFUSING! 

For example, you can have many symptoms of anxiety that lead up to a certain event that results in a panic attack. The correlating anxiety symptoms and the physical panic attack symptoms often go hand in hand. 

The differentiating feature of an anxiety attack is that it primarily involves worry, fear, and restlessness but does NOT have the physical symptoms listed above which would make it a panic attack. 

How To Stop an Anxiety Attack 

Here are a few things you can do to help yourself (or coach a friend) through an anxiety attack: 

1. Deep Breathing 

Stop what you’re doing. Sit down. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Make sure you’re breathing through your diaphragm (your stomach should be what’s expanding, not your chest). Breathe in until your lungs are full, hold it for a second, then exhale. 

2. Acknowledge What’s Happening 

Remind yourself that what you’re experiencing is an anxiety attack. That means you’re not having a heart attack and you’re not going to keel over and die on the spot, even if it feels like it. As you’re taking deep breaths, tell yourself: “This is an anxiety attack. It’s going to go away because I am taking back control.” 

3. Ground Yourself 

Try the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise! Open your eyes, and look at your surroundings. Take note of: 

  • 5 things you see (chair, water bottle, book, etc.)
  • 4 things you can touch (your clothing, your feet on the ground, your hair, etc.)
  • 3 things you hear (fan, birds, cars, etc.)
  • 2 things you smell (coffee, candle, toothpaste, etc.)
  • 1 thing you taste (drink, gum, candy, etc.)

Absorbing your surroundings and engaging all of your senses helps you regain a sense of control over your mind. 

4. Consider What Triggered You

There are several reasons you could have experienced a panic or anxiety attack. A family history of anxiety disorders, major stress, a traumatic incident, major life changes, or past trauma can all cause you to feel like shit. Once you’re breathing normally and feeling a little calmer, consider what may have triggered you. 

You might know right away, for example, if you’re a new parent and feeling stressed about taking care of a newborn… or if you were the victim of a sexual assault and unexpectedly read or saw something related. It’s possible though, that you’re just feeling shitty about *gestures broadly at everything happening in the world*. Whatever it is, try to take action to keep yourself safe from your triggers. You’re not weak, or a snowflake, or anything other than a human being looking for peace. 

5. Talk to a Therapist or Other Medical Professional 

If you have the means to speak with a therapist, it’s probs a good idea. Panic and anxiety attacks are no fun and while they’re not necessarily dangerous in a vacuum (assuming you’re not driving or something), they can negatively affect your health over time. Also, they usually don’t happen without an underlying cause. That could be anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or any number of other things. Working through your feelings with a therapist can be helpful. Your therapist may also recommend you take an antidepressant to help ease your symptoms. 

Your first experiences with anxiety or panic attacks might cause you stress, shame, more anxiety, or other less-than-fun emotions. But remember there is nothing to be ashamed of! You didn’t do anything wrong. Your body just wanted to get your attention to let you know it needs a little help, and there’s nothing wrong with needing a little help sometimes.

Tantrum vs Meltdown: What’s the Difference?

If you’re a parent, you’ve likely dealt with your child having a tantrum before. Maybe your child didn’t want to leave the park that day, or brushing their teeth was a biiiig no from them. A tantrum can include crying, screaming, lashing out, and some really overwhelming emotions. It’s stressful for you and your child! They don’t know how to communicate all of their wants and needs, so it boils over. But a tantrum and a meltdown are two very different things. For a child with autism, a meltdown is much more than trying to get what they want, or not being able to communicate their feelings. Let’s dive into the differences between a tantrum vs meltdown!

What Is a Tantrum?

We’ve talked about toddler tantrums before, but here’s a quick summary. 

When kids don’t know how to communicate their emotions, it can lead to them reacting in really big ways. A tantrum is usually a way of relaying a want or a need to the parent but without the emotional vocab to talk about it. They want to get a chocolate bar from the grocery store, and when you don’t let them get one, they go from 0 to 100 because they were denied something they wanted.

Tantrums are most common in the toddler years. This is when they’re just learning how to talk and still working on handling emotions. This can be a great time to introduce them to the feelings wheel, so they can put words to their feelings! And if you need the feelings wheel to work through your own emotions about tantrums, we toootally understand. We’re here for you. Your journal is here for you. We’ll get through it all together.

What Is a Meltdown?

The word “meltdown” has been used as a synonym for “tantrum,” but a tantrum and a meltdown are very different. An autistic meltdown describes a situation where an autistic person gets very overwhelmed by their surroundings. The results of a meltdown can look similar to a tantrum, with crying, yelling, hitting themselves or others, and other big physical reactions. They can also freeze on the spot, be unable to talk, or run away from an overwhelming situation.

Unlike a tantrum, a meltdown is much more difficult to control. A meltdown can be the result of sensory overload. Many people with autism have heightened sensitivities to particular sensations, like the feeling of certain types of clothing, being touched by people, loud noises, strong scents, or bright lights. When they are subjected to their sensitivities too much, it can become deeply uncomfortable, to the point of a meltdown. It can also be the result of changes in their routine or environment. 

Similar to a tantrum, a meltdown can be related to communication difficulties. With autistic children, a meltdown may be the result of being uncomfortable in their current situation but not knowing how to express that to a parent. 

They can sometimes show signs of distress before a meltdown, called “rumblings.” This can include pleas to leave a situation, more agitated stimming (like hand waving, hitting themselves, rocking, or other self-soothing behaviours), and pacing. Meltdowns can happen in autistic teens and adults as well. 

How to Handle a Child’s Meltdown

A meltdown can trigger a lot of negative emotions in a child. It’s important to remember that, unlike a tantrum, a meltdown isn’t as easily managed, and isn’t used to get something they want. The child may feel guilty or ashamed afterwards. Having empathy after a meltdown will be super helpful!

The child will need the time to go through the meltdown. It may take a while, and they may be exhausted afterwards, but it will pass. It’s important for you to remain calm in the situation so you don’t add to the overwhelming sensations they’re already dealing with.

It’s a good idea to take them to a quiet, calming space. If they’re in public and it’s becoming too loud or crowded, getting them away from people will be a good call. Generally speaking, the less stimulation that’s coming at them, the better. 

Anything that brings them comfort will help. Try using their favourite stuffed animal or blanket, headphones with calming music, or a safe space at home that relaxes them. You’ll know your child best, so work with their needs.

Ask the child if they’re okay when they seem to be calming down. They may not communicate with you, which is fine too. 

After a meltdown occurs, it can be helpful to keep a record of what may have caused it. Understanding your child’s triggers will be a great way to try to lessen the frequency of meltdowns. 

Even if you’re fully prepared and tried your best, meltdowns may still happen from time to time, and that’s totally okay. It’s not a negative reflection on your parenting. Again, it can’t be controlled! So handling them as they happen, and keeping track of triggers to avoid if possible, is your best bet.

You Can Always Seek Professional Help

If you’re having trouble dealing with tantrums or meltdowns, or don’t know how to distinguish the two, you can always go to a mental health professional for guidance. They’ll provide advice on what can help your child, and give you the tools to make your life, and your child’s, smoother to handle. 

It’s definitely understandable if you’re having a tough time handling a tantrum or meltdown! It does not make you a bad parent. There’s no one way to be a good parent, and every child is different. You’re doing your best, and we’re proud of you!!

What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? 10 Criteria To Look For

Anxiety sucks. There, we said it. We were all thinking it so we said (wrote?) it. So what IS generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD to its close friends)?

You might be reading this because you’ve been feeling extra shitty lately and are starting to wonder if it’s more than just *gestures vaguely at the world*. Maybe you’ve known for a long time that you might be coping with anxiety or maybe this is all very new. Maybe you don’t have an anxiety disorder, but your friend, partner, or family member does and you’re looking for ways to support them (props to you, that’s so amazing). 


Live a fulfilling life WITH anxiety


Whatever reason you’re here — welcome. You’re among friends at DiveThru. Let’s start answering some of the questions that brought you here. 

What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? 

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is excessive and difficult-to-control worrying on more days than not over a six-month period. It needs to cause “clinically significant distress” — that is to say, it causes serious problems in your day-to-day life. The anxiety also cannot be attributable to any other medical condition, mental disorder, or medication/substance use. 

The feelings of anxiety can be about pretty much anything. It could be job responsibilities, household chores, finances, health of family members, and other routine circumstances. The focus of the anxiety can also shift from subject to subject, but the feelings of worry persist

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists six symptoms of GAD. At least three of these must be present over a six-month stretch in order for a physician to diagnose adults.

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge 
  • Being easily fatigued 
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank 
  • Irritability 
  • Muscle tension 
  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep) 

These symptoms are felt more severely by younger adults compared to seniors. But there are ways to reduce the impact and intensity of anxiety! Psychotherapy and medication can both be very helpful, as well as other practices like mindfulness. 

It may also be helpful to check out Dr. Justin Puder’s course “Thriving With Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)” in the DiveThru app. He goes through where anxiety comes from, the different ways it affects the body and mind, and most importantly, gives tools to manage anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of leading a happy and fulfilling life!

What Causes Anxiety Disorders? 

As with many mental disorders, there are several different factors that can each play a role in GAD. Genetics, personality, development, and brain chemistry can all have an effect. In 2017, researchers looked back at a bunch of past studies and came to the conclusion that GAD has a heritability rate of about 30 percent. However, environmental factors also play a role, so it’s possible to have GAD without a family history, or have a family history and not have GAD. 

There are also socioeconomic and cultural factors that can play a role. Women are twice as likely as men to experience GAD symptoms at some point in their lives. People of colour generally experience GAD more than white people. 

People from developed countries are more likely to report symptoms; the worldwide prevalence of GAD is somewhere around three percent, but a 2017 report found that so-called “high-income” countries like Australia and New Zealand have the highest rate at around eight percent…versus less than one percent in Nigeria and China, both defined by the report as “low-income countries.” 

That’s not to say that people in the wealthier countries are more anxious — just that they’re more likely to report having symptoms. The DSM-5 offers a recommendation to doctors to consider cultural-specific factors when assessing patients for GAD. 

10 Other Ways GAD Might Show Up for You

In addition to those symptoms listed above, there are way more ways that GAD can make its presence felt in your life. Here are some physical and psychological signs of anxiety to look out for: 

1. Body Aches 

Anxiety is ultimately your body reacting to something psychological that it perceives as a physical threat. When your body prepares to deal with this threat, it goes into fight, flight, or freeze… which means your body tenses up. That can cause you to tremble or twitch, feel shaky, and have muscle aches or soreness. It can also lead to an accelerated heart rate and shortness of breath, as your body begins breathing quickly to prepare for either a fight or flight. You may also feel dizzy as a result of these physiological changes. 

2. Sweat

Another super fun physical sign of anxiety is the Stress Sweats™. You may find yourself sweating, even if you’re sitting down in a climate-controlled room. Your internal body temperature is going up as your body reacts to this threat… and how does your body regulate its temperature? That’s right, sweat! 

Stress Sweat™ has a unique (ahem, not great) smell to it. That’s because it comes from a different (apocrine) gland in your body than regular sweat (eccrine glands). Apocrine glands are found in body parts with more hair follicles, like your underarms or genital region. They produce thicker sweat, rich in proteins and fats that combine with bacteria to cause that special version of B.O. And if that’s not fun enough, your underarms can actually produce UP TO 30 TIMES MORE sweat when under stress. Thanks a lot, body. 

3. Frequent Bathroom Breaks 

As your body is flooding its system with chemicals during the stress response, some of those chemicals find their way into your stomach. Your gut bacteria is very sensitive… so it doesn’t take much to throw it off. Ever drank milk that was a day or two past expiry? 

Nausea, IBS, and diarrhea can all result from your gut bacteria being thrown off balance. So in addition to all the other stuff you’re feeling worried about, you might also be feeling sick to your stomach, passing more gas, pooping more, and feeling bloated. Suuuuuper fun, love that so much. 

4. Headaches

As if there wasn’t enough going on in your head already, there’s a correlation between GAD and headaches/migraines. Headaches are a very common symptom of anxiety, and are usually one of the first things a doctor will ask you about when potentially diagnosing GAD. 

If you find yourself getting headaches more often than you used to, it could be a sign of anxiety (of course, in concert with other symptoms). Talk to your doctor if you’re having frequent headaches—they’re the medical experts! 

5. Health Anxiety 

It’s totally normal to feel concerned if you have a sore throat, especially these days… but health anxiety (formerly known as hypochondria) goes beyond that. It’s when these feelings of worry disrupt your life, making it hard to concentrate or get anything done. This can also be caused or amplified by past experiences with illness, either your own or a loved one’s. 

Health anxiety becomes more common as people approach middle age. If you find that a headache or stomach-ache sends you into a spiral of worries, and you end up convincing yourself that it means you have cancer, that can be a sign of GAD. 

6. Excessive Perfectionism 

There’s nothing wrong with having high standards. But here, we’re talking about perfectionism to the point of disruption. You may be feeling an overwhelming need to do things perfectly — even if you’re not actually being evaluated. It’s the idea that “anything less than perfection means I failed.” That can lead to spending way too much time on simple tasks while you agonize over every small detail and end up redoing everything because it “wasn’t good enough” the first time. 

It can also present through an excessive fear of being late or procrastination. It sounds contradictory, right? But they’re actually related. Do you arrive everywhere early because “arriving on time means you’re 10 minutes late?” Or perhaps you find yourself often putting off projects or tasks because you figure “future you” will have more knowledge and therefore do a better job? Yeah totally, us neither… 

7. Constantly Searching for Validation 

For those of you who remember your Psychology 101, this is basically just needing constant rewards. You get a compliment from someone, so you repeat the behaviour that got you the compliment. That’s not a sign of anxiety in and of itself. It becomes a problem when everything you do is in search of validation. This can also coincide with a lack of confidence — if you struggle to have good feelings about yourself, you might be extra motivated by others saying nice things about you. 

8. Catastrophic Fears

In addition to everyday life stuff, you could also find yourself thinking and worrying about catastrophic events like natural disasters or nuclear war. This goes beyond a feeling of concern during an event, like seeing a hurricane hit a different country; this is feeling worried and like you need to be actively preparing for when it happens to your home. 

This particular symptom is more common in teenagers and children, but climate change-related anxiety is also becoming more prevalent. 

9. Coping With Substances 

If you feel like you need to alter your mind with alcohol or drugs in order to stop feeling worried, it’s probably a good indicator that there’s something else going on beyond just regular worries. A drink or two when out with friends isn’t problematic behaviour, but when it begins to happen daily and for the explicit reason of making yourself feel better, that’s an issue. 

Approximately one-fifth of Americans with an anxiety or mood disorder also have a substance abuse disorder. 

10. Your History 

Many people with GAD have had feelings of anxiety and nervousness all their life. Think back on your past experiences and consider whether these feelings of worry are new, or if you’ve experienced them in the past. Anxiety in children can often be explained away, like social anxiety as shyness. This conversation could also be had with a therapist, to help you get a fresh perspective. 

This is by no means an all-encompassing list. Everybody’s different, and if you have a symptom that’s not on the list, that does not mean your experience is any less valid. If you read this article and thought to yourself “oh shit, they’re describing me” — it’s probably best to make an appointment and chat with your doctor. 

It can be rough to be diagnosed with anxiety, but it can also be empowering. If you feel like you have a special ability to be very sad and you don’t know why, it can make you feel all sorts of extra down on yourself. But once you know there’s a reason, you can reassure yourself that it’s not your fault and that it’s something you can take tangible action to manage.

Understanding Fatphobia and Anti-Fat Bias

You’ve probably heard it all before, especially if you’re a fat person. “Fat people can’t be fit. They can’t be healthy. They aren’t taking care of themselves. Fat people need to change their diet and lifestyle. If a fat person’s body can’t fit into a brand’s clothes or certain seats in public places, they should just lose weight and deal with it.”

Fuck all of those damaging attitudes!! They aren’t helpful to fat people, promote the extremely harmful beast that is diet culture, and assume that every fat person’s food intake, activity level, and embodied experiences are the same. The cultural idea that being fat is wrong, bad, and shameful is part of a long history of fatphobia and anti-fat bias.


Understand what systemic anti-fat bias is with DiveThru


You can be fat and healthy and happy, and there are way too many misconceptions around fat bodies. Let’s DiveThru fatphobia, anti-fat bias, and talk about how to have a positive (or neutral!) body image, no matter your shape or size.

What Is Fatphobia?

Fatphobia is defined as a cultural weight stigma against fat people. Much like how homophobia doesn’t refer to a literal fear of gay people, fatphobia is a term to describe the hatred and discrimination towards fat people. You can also use fatmisia (hatred towards fat people), and sizeism (prejudice against someone’s weight). So many terms!

What Is Anti-Fat Bias?

Anti-fat bias has a similar definition, but some fat activists prefer it, as it doesn’t have the -phobia bit at the end that suggests that it’s a fear, or dismisses the effects of debilitating phobias on someone’s mental health. Instead, using a term like “systemic anti-fat bias” can open up the conversation to the societal anti-fat biases that fat people face everyday.

How Does Fatphobia Affect Fat People?

Well, it’s not good. Obviously. But how bad is it?

Anti-fat bias affects fat people’s physical health and no, we’re not referring to weight loss or gain. A 2016 study looked at the chronic health affects of weight discrimination on fat people. The researchers found that people were more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions even when activity level, economic status, and BMI were factored out. That basically means that fat people may be getting sick based on the psychological experience of living in a fat body, and the stress that comes along with it. Mental health affects your physical health, people!!


Being fat can absolutely affect your access to employment. A qualitative review of the effects of fat stigma in the workplace found that obese people (note: this is a term used in the study but not a term we recommend using) made up to 6% less for the same job, with women being affected the most, and particularly women of colour. So your weight can affect your wage, regardless of how competent you are at your job. 


Then there’s the issue of healthcare. There are plenty of stories of fat people receiving inadequate healthcare based on their weight. A 2012 study found that there was a strong implicit anti-fat bias among medical professionals that were surveyed. This kind of bias, and the judgement that comes with it, can affect whether or not a fat person feels comfortable seeking medical help. Anti-fat bias can often affect the provider’s willingness to provide quality care or sometimes any care at all. This type of bias also shows up when patients go to the doctor and are told they need to lose weight, no matter the issue that they wanted help with. This contributes to the shame they may already associate with their bodies. 


Here’s the real juicy part: in a 2012 study on weight and health, it was found that a change in lifestyle habits resulted in a significant decrease in mortality rates, regardless of BMI. As therapist Hannah Fuhlendorf describes in her TikTok on the study, it examined around 11,000 people over the span of 170 months, which is a huge sample size and long period of time for a study like this. When participants adopted the four lifestyle changes (5+ fruits and veggies a day, regular exercise, minimal alcohol consumption, and no smoking), their health risks decreased regardless of their starting weight and whether or not they lost weight. 

Let me just repeat that: those four lifestyle changes led the subjects to have lower mortality rates REGARDLESS OF WEIGHT. Kind of a big deal. Go watch Hannah’s video if you want more deets.

If you’re looking for some more info on systemic and interpersonal fatphobia, you can watch Hannah’s free course, “What Is Anti-Fat Bias?” in the DiveThu app. The course also has some excellent journaling prompts to get you thinking about your self-image and your relationship with your body. Check it out! Or finish this article and then check it out. You do you.

Body Positivity, Body Neutrality, and Self-Image

Anti-fat bias can deeply affect a fat person’s sense of self-worth, to the point that it can actually make them sick. Fat people deal with fat-shaming and discrimination from all angles, including from friends, family, and even strangers. The thin ideal is SO pervasive that it can worm its way into your self-image and not wanna come out. It can be challenging to rebuild your self-image in a society that is always telling you you’re bad or broken. So what are some ways that you can build up your self-image as a fat person?

Body Positivity

You can try for body positivity. One great way of connecting to your own thoughts on your body and building self-love is through journaling. We have some great journaling prompts to help guide your journaling to a place of self-love. There’s also some amazing body positive social media accounts that you can follow if you want to curate your feed into something that makes you feel great. You are amazing, your body is amazing, and you should know it!

Body Neutrality

But some days, you don’t know it, and saying “I love myself!” would feel like a lie. We get that. When positivity feels wrong, body neutrality is a fantastic way of thinking. Rather than saying you love your body, or love how it looks, body neutrality focuses on what your body does for you. Your body allows you to wake up everyday, read a book, move in whatever way works for you, hug your bestie, and do lots of other awesome things! From a body neutral perspective, how your body looks is way less important than what it lets you do.  

Fat Activism

You can also get involved in fat activism! The fat liberation movement started in the 1960s and is alive and well today. This community of activists wants fat voices to be heard about healthcare, anti-fat bias, toxic diet culture, and systemic issues surrounding fat bodies. Also known as the fat acceptance movement, they’ve taken legal action to protect the rights of fat people. 

Fat bodies are worthy, valued, and important. Always remember that. And now that you know a bit more about anti-fat bias and fat activism, you’ve got the know-how to be critical of those fatphobic folks and systems around you. Go out there and fight anti-fat bias!



5 Best Ways To Handle Toddler Tantrums

Ohhhh, kids! The joys of learning and living with your little bestie! Until they go through a toddler tantrum and you BOTH find yourselves crying in the middle of the produce section…

Make tantrums more manageable


Before you walk into the grocery store with your child, they’re happy and content and even excited to help you find a shopping cart! So you plop them in it and start walking down the aisles, hoping this will be a quick in-an-out trip. Your little shadow becomes enthralled with everything they see, from the colourful fruit to some of their favourite snacks, and their little hands start grabbing everything in sight. After some negotiations, you get the snack back from their hands successfully (or so you thought). But when your toddler realizes they are no longer holding the apple, cue the tears of outrage as their voice takes over the entire store.

SIGHHHH! Toddler tantrums are never fun, especially the “terrible twos.”  But they are a natural aspect of childhood growth and are included in the reality of having a toddler. These meltdowns can occur when a kid is uncomfortable, frustrated, exhausted, unhappy, hungry, or when they want the comfort of a particular caregiver.

Coping with tough situations that do not go as planned is a skill children learn over time, and we know you want to help them cope during these moments. So let’s get into how to navigate toddler temper tantrums, shall we?

What Are Temper Tantrums? 

When a child has a tantrum, this tells you that they are upset and expressing that frustration. Tantrums are a means for children to learn how to deal with their emotions. Child psychologist Dr. Carrie Jackson says, “because they don’t yet know how to recognize and express their feelings, they may do so by shrieking, crying, and bickering.”

Tantrums are most common in children between 1 to 3 years, a pivotal time when language skills are beginning to develop and often stem from trying to communicate a need, such as being hungry or wanting a toy or needing a changed diaper. These outbursts might range from pouting and sobbing to a bit of physical aggression. When kids throw a fit, it might feel like a power struggle since they are learning about their independence, wants, desires, and what they can control — and express that overtly.

When toddlers realize their independence, they may begin to utter words like “NO” or “ME.” They may become overwhelmed and need your support to deal with it. It might be something they have done before on their own, like putting on their jacket, but they find it difficult this time. 

They are still learning how to manage all of their emotions, including negative ones. This can quickly escalate into a full-fledged tantrum. It is important to have in mind that you are not a “terrible parent” because your child had a tantrum, and that this is a considerable component of their development.

5 Best Ways To Handle Toddler Tantrums

Hearing and seeing your child’s tantrum, especially if it occurs in public, might cause you social anxiety or make you feel realllyyy humiliated. It shouldn’t, but we know it can! And because of that, one of your initial responses might be to raise your voice, try to persuade them or try to reason with them. Chances are that won’t work and you will eventually succumb to their requests to make it stop. Oof. The next time you’re at the grocery store, you’ll be dreading this vicious cycle again.

And if you’re thinking, “I’ve tried everything and I’m so tired,” just remember that it’s natural for parents to doubt themselves and their parenting style. This does not mean that you don’t love your child! You are doing everything you can to understand and help them. You’re even reading this article to find solutions.

Handling toddler tantrums is as much about self-regulating your own emotions as it is about paying attention to your child. If you’re not sure what that means or where to start, keep reading!

1. Learn To Self-Regulate Your Emotions  

TBH your child is always watching you! Yes, even while throwing a fit. Children can sense their parents’ emotions, no matter how hard the parents try to keep them hidden. They model their behaviour after you and the way you respond to tantrums is a lesson itself.

This is when your ability to control your emotions comes into play! Self-regulation allows us to pause when we are experiencing emotions and manage how we respond to them in the moment. You become more self-aware when you improve your self-regulation, which is important when you’re setting boundaries with your child. Did you know self-regulation also helps you in other relationships? Yup. The self-awareness that you develop can help you approach conflict differently. 

2. Let Them Feel all the Feels

Pretty much anything can set a child off. They want to feel protected at that point, and you, as their parent, are their safety net. When you affirm their emotions, you might learn and understand the feelings they are having.

For children to feel secure expressing their emotions, they must know they have opportunities to be heard. During their tantrum, make sure to clear anything in the immediate vicinity that might endanger them. That way, they may vent in a way that won’t hurt them, and they can let out their frustrations before pulling themselves back together with your support. As a soothing approach, you could ask them if they feel comfortable with a hug or if you can hold their hand.

As you soothe them, try using the following phrases:

I’ve got you.

It’s all right, sweetie.

Yes, I hear you, and I understand.

3. Figure Out Distractions To Help Them Cope 

Tantrums might feel uncontrolled, especially if your child is screaming at the top of their lungs, but toddlers have a relatively short attention span and are easily distracted. 

For example, if your child is at the playground and has been waiting for their time on the slide, and another toddler budges in, it can make your child angry. Which is a normal feeling. You can propose an alternative:

Hey love, it’s okay. Remember the blue tube is your favourite, so let’s go on it when you’re ready, okay?

You can also assist them with breathing exercises to help cool down. 

With these techniques, you’ll be able to discover what works best for your child, and they’ll learn how to regulate their emotions through the tantrums constructively. 

4. Learn Grounding Exercises Together 

You’ve made it this far and we are so proud of you! Toddler tantrums can be really overwhelming so don’t think we’re not impressed. We’re hella impressed.

Remember how we mentioned earlier that toddlers model their behaviour after you? You can walk through grounding exercises together and show them this great coping skill they can use next time they feel overwhelmed by emotions.

A simple one you can teach them is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise based on our 5 senses. Name 5 things you can see around you, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Practice this together a few times!

You can find so many more of these exercises in our DiveThru app! Take our “Managing Tantrums in Kids” course to learn why tantrums happen, why they’re so normal, and how to cope with one when it does happen. The best part? We created the course with Dr. Carrie Jackson, a child psychologist with so much experience in this field. 

5. Reach Out for Professional Support 

So you’ve done everything you can and have exhausted your available bandwidth! We know how that feels. You’re basically just begging the universe to send you your very own Mary Poppins. 

It’s a great idea to reach out to your family doctor or therapist and talk to them about how you’re feeling. It does NOT imply that you aren’t a good parent. The opposite actually! It means that you want what’s best for you and your child and a mental health professional can definitely help with that. 

Here are some warning signals to watch for when you should consider talking to a therapist or child psychologist:

  • All the strategies you’ve tried don’t seem to be working
  • Their behaviours impact school and how they interact with other children
  • You notice an increase in aggressive behaviour and self-injury 

You know your child best, so if you believe that certain emotions or behaviours they are displaying are unhealthy, discuss all of your concerns with your child’s physician. They might also refer you to a mental health expert for an examination to devise a strategy with you and your kid to confront these attitudes and emotions.

Temper tantrums are entirely natural in children as they learn how to cope with their emotions. They desire to be independent through these powerful feelings, yet they still crave your presence. So when your child throws a fit, it’s because they don’t yet have the communicative ability to express themselves verbally. We hope this article has empowered you to help your child learn to express themselves in healthier ways.

5 Activities for Kids With ADHD: How To Parent & Support Them

So, you’re spending time with a child with ADHD, and you want to know how to keep them stimulated. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, or babysitter, you’ve come to the right place! (We’re gonna call you a caretaker because that list is a biiiit of a mouthful.)  Let’s go over a few activities for kids with ADHD that will help you structure their interests and keep them engaged.

Help kids learn to thrive with ADHD


There are a few signs of ADHD in kids that you can look for. Symptoms can include being inattentive, hyperactive, and/or impulsive, to the point that it disrupts everyday life. These symptoms can make it difficult to focus in class, listen to instructions, sit still for long periods of time, be quiet, and stay organized. FYI, if you’re wondering about the difference between ADD or ADHD, they’re now combined to all be covered under ADHD. The more you know! 

Kids with ADHD can struggle with low self-confidence, have trouble making friends, and have a tough time in school. But it’s not all bad! They can also see boosts in creativity, spontaneity, energy levels, and the ability to hyperfocus. These benefits, if left undirected, won’t do anyone any favours. This is where some caretaker guidance comes in.

Let’s dive into some ideas for activities to keep a child displaying ADHD symptoms busy, build their skills, and direct their energy into fun things! 

1. Get Outdoors

There are soooo many benefits to exploring the great outdoors, and reducing ADHD symptoms is one of them. A 2011 study looked at children’s time playing outdoors versus indoors. Turns out, playing outdoors helped reduce symptoms of ADHD more than indoor play areas. The kids with hyperactivity benefited more from wide-open green spaces. So skip the indoor play place and head to your local green space! (Totally rhymed. Nailed it.) 

2. Make Your Home More Exciting

We can’t always be out in nature, so sometimes indoor stimulation will have to do. Any game that has some physical activity will be beneficial to a child with ADHD. Indoor scavenger hunts are great (I mean, even as adults, that sounds pretty fun). The Floor Is Lava is a good choice, so long as your furniture can take it and everything breakable is put away. If you wanna get involved, look up some videos of parent/kid dance workouts and follow along! Bonus points if there’s matching ‘80s workout outfits to go with it.

3. Try a Sport, but the Right Kind of Sport

Sports can provide a kid with ADHD some structure, routine, and a healthy release of pent-up energy. All good things, right? Well, with ADHD, caretakers should pay attention to how kids react to certain sports. A study from 2000, which focused on behaviour from boys with ADHD while playing team sports, found that the boys struggled with frustration, emotional reactivity, and disqualification more, relative to the other kids. 

That’s not to say that team sports are totally out! But individually-focused sports may be more beneficial for a child with ADHD. Try out wrestling, swimming, or martial arts. Unleash their inner Karate Kid

Working with a child’s ADHD symptoms can be a challenge, but you’re trying, and that’s pretty great. In the DiveThru course “Parenting Kids With ADHD,” child psychologist Dr. Carrie Jackson goes through so many more aspects of raising ADHD kids, like building their self-confidence, how to work with the school, and creating a routine. Check out the DiveThru app to watch the course!

4. A Little Screen Time Can Be Good

Screen time with children is a hot topic in mental health discussions. A 2018 study concluded that too much screen time for kids can lead to long term physical, psychological, and social issues. Mental health professionals recommend no more than two hours per day for children. Less is best!

Kids with ADHD are at risk of developing an attachment to screen time, becoming hyper focused, losing interest in other activities, and getting irritable when screen time is taken away from them. We’ve all had that spike of anxiety when our phones aren’t in our eyeline, and kids can develop that digital dependence, too. 

But we also know that getting rid of screen time altogether would be difficult in today’s digital world. Monitored screen time can be a good tool to find out what your child is interested in and use that to suggest other activities. Their first-person shooter obsession might transfer well into archery. Open world games could get them excited about an outdoor adventure. Play around and see what sticks!

5. Try Some Music Therapy

Do they show an interest in an instrument? Fantastic! Music therapy has been used in the past for kids with ADHD, and has been helpful in developing their attentiveness. This therapy is often combined with other kinds of treatment, such as medication, but usually has a favourable outcome. 

You don’t need to get private lessons or an expensive instrument just yet. If your child shows an interest, you can test the waters with a cheaper instrument first, like a recorder or ukulele. YouTube has some great follow-along videos for beginners. Try it out!

Provide Structure For Any Of Their Interests

This is a pretty general rule, but a big one. Maybe your child shows an interest in playing the drums, cooking, gymnastics, art, hiking, or any other activity. What’s important to consider as the caretaker is providing freedom within structure. 

Because of a fun little phenomenon called hyperfocus, they might pick up things quickly and drop them just as fast. By structuring their interests, you can help focus their mind and build their self-confidence. Positive feedback goes a long way for kids with ADHD, so encouraging their hobbies can be super helpful! They stay occupied and happy, they’re proud of themselves, and you’re helping them build fun skills. Everyone wins!

All these activities are one piece of the puzzle. As we explain in our DiveThru course, helping kids with ADHD is so much more than just keeping them busy. It may include working with a therapist, managing their school life, and building a daily routine, along with all the other everyday stuff. Taking care of a child with ADHD can definitely be stressful, but reading this article is a great step to take! What really matters is doing whatever fits for you and your child.

Go have a workout dance party/nature hike/jam session and find out what you both need. We’ll be over here, cheering you on.

5 Benefits of Labelling Your Feelings & Using a Mood Tracker

How are you feeling today? Sometimes the answer is simple, but most of the time, it’s a whooole bunch of feelings throughout the day that add up to a big, emotional soup. That can be difficult to put into words. And how do you work through your feelings if you can’t even describe them? That’s where feeling tracking or a mood tracker comes in!

It’s a tool that allows you to sit down with yourself, figure out how you’re feeling, and why you’re feeling that way. The DiveThru app helps you track your mood as soon as you open it by asking you how you feel and why. With enough time, you’ll be able to identify, work through, and self-regulate all of your emotions!

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s get into the many wonderful ways mood tracking can help you understand yourself and your emotions to make a better, emotionally balanced you!

1. It Validates Your Emotions

We have a whole other article about the feelings wheel because we kinda love it. It’s a way to figure out how you feel, put a word to it, and validate that feeling. And validating your emotions is so important! It’s okay to feel how you feel, and you should know that.

Self-validating your emotions can help you put words to your feelings and give yourself permission to feel them. Maybe you got mad at work and you don’t know why. Then you check out the feelings wheel, and you realize that you were actually frustrated from a pileup of work that feels impossible to catch up on. Now that you know how you feel and you have the language to describe it, you can let yourself feel that way and not try to change or bury the emotion.

2. When You Know How You Feel, You Can Find Triggers

Now that you can properly label your emotions, knowing what triggers them is a great step towards being able to see your emotions coming and understand why you’re feeling that way. Knowing your triggers can help you avoid situations that trigger you or, if they aren’t avoidable, plan how to deal with them when they come up. 

Just look at Nick Miller. He was a big, angry mess a lot of the time because he had so many feelings and no idea how to deal with them. We’re here to help you get that under control before you start yelling at inanimate objects.

3. Letting Others Know How You’re Really Feeling

You’ve got a lot going on today, and when you come home, you’re slamming cupboard doors, mumbling under your breath, and cooking dinner with a level of aggression usually reserved for Hell’s Kitchen. Then someone you live with — a partner, or roommate, or your child — asks you what’s going on. Are you able to explain why you feel the way you feel?

This is how mood tracking can help. When we do all the things we learned above, like using the feelings wheel and recognizing our triggers, we can communicate how we’re feeling and why we’re feeling it. This lets other people understand your feelings a little better, which improves our connections to others, since people are drawn to authenticity. They understand you, you feel understood, everyone is having a much better time. 

But we’re not done yet. We want you to be able to avoid the cupboard slamming, aggressive cooking part. The next step is emotional self-regulation.

4. Finding Tools for Your Feelings

It’s one thing to understand your emotions and their triggers, but it’s a whole other thing to manage them. We get it! It’s all easy peasy on paper until you have the longest day of work ever and you come home to a messy house, again. Uuuuggghh! But there’s some great tools to help you work through those emotions without a total blowout. 

Emotional self-regulation can be suuuper helpful in learning how to handle your emotions. We have a free DiveThru course in our app all about it! “Self-Regulating Your Emotions” is led by therapist Simone Saunders. She’ll walk you through the ideas behind emotional self-regulation, how to manage your emotions while still feeling them, and some great tools for self-regulation. Take this course to turn your big, overwhelming feelings into something more manageable. 

5. Practise Makes (Almost) Perfect

By using a feelings tracker, validating how you feel, finding your triggers, communicating, and emotionally self-regulating, you’re on your way to becoming an emotions expert. When we know how we feel, we know which path to follow in life. Getting to know your true emotions can help you figure out your career, school, who you should date, or who you become friends with! But it won’t happen overnight. Practice makes perfect!

Using a daily mood journal, like the one in our app, will help you check in with yourself every day, figure out how you feel, and use the steps you’ve learned to manage those emotions. Will you be perfect? Probably not. Will you occasionally yell at someone in traffic? Maybe. 

But instead of letting that anger ruin your day, you’ll feel it, understand the trigger, talk about (or journal) why you felt that way, and be able to move on. All that adds up to a much better time in your day-to-day life. So bust out that mood tracker, sort through those feelings, and let’s self-regulate!

What Is Disordered Eating & How Is It Treated?

TW: Disordered eating, eating disorders

Disordered eating, similar but different from eating disorders (and not any less dangerous), is all too common amongst people of all sizes and mobilities. While diet culture would lead us to believe that disordered eating only exists among thin people and poor health only exists among large people, the truth is that anyone can experience disordered eating and/or an eating disorder.

We’re going to outline alllll the things that go along with disordered eating, how it differs from eating disorders, and how to treat it. Whether trying to determine if you’re experiencing disordered eating, or you’re worried about a loved one, we hope this information helps you better understand disordered eating so that you can find appropriate support and medical assistance.


Find out how dieting and diet culture impact mental health

Diet Culture & Body Image

The presumption that someone’s size is an indicator of their overall health is a thought that is proving to be hard to shake despite extensive research over the past 20+ years indicating the contrary. And, this isn’t an issue specific to just females. In fact, the Canadian Medical Association Journal says men are constantly overlooked for treatment even though they make up 25% of all eating disorder cases! 

Similarly, heavier people are not just fat-shamed by society as a whole, but actually commonly overlooked and undiagnosed by medical personnel too despite the fact that the majority of people with eating disorders are not considered clinically underweight. Hannah Fuhlendorf — a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate(LPCC), National Certified Counsellor (NCC) and DiveThru Therapist — spoke to this online.

When fat people experience serious illness, no matter what kind of illness it is, it is not mourned as a senseless or tragic injustice, like we hear so often when the subject is thin. It is seen as penance for the very existence of our fat bodies. This is one of the most vile and insidious messages of fatphobia and, when we hear it, it needs to be called out and rejected.

In opposition to this, thin people are often automatically presumed to be healthy when, in fact, they could be dealing with a host of medical issues. Celebs like Selena Gomez, Gina Rodriguez, Sarah Hyland, Nick Cannon, Michael Phelps and Nick Jonas have chronic medical conditions that you might not suspect based on their “ideal” appearances. 

Disordered eating is no different. It can affect anyone regardless of size or mobility and it plays heavily on a person’s mental and physical health. So, let’s go over what “disordered eating” means. 

What Is Disordered Eating?

Diet culture plays a HUGE part in the development of disordered eating because it encourages dietary restriction and the idealization of thinness. But, dieting doesn’t actually work. Weight that is lost intentionally is almost always gained back very fast as the body attempts to restore and heal itself from the stress of restriction. It has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with our body’s sophisticated means of ensuring our survival. Your body doesn’t know what a diet is. It doesn’t care about your subscription to Weight Watchers or Noom. All it knows is that it’s being forced to use its emergency fuel. As a result, it goes into crisis mode and slows your metabolism significantly in order to keep you from starving and stores up even more fat reserves for the future in case it ever encounters famine again. 

Additionally, the experience of dieting often fosters a suuuuper unhealthy relationship with food! This unhealthy relationship is what is called disordered eating. It’s characterized by irregular, controlling, restrictive, or obsessive eating behaviours, and it has a big impact on overall health and quality of life! 

There’s a misconception that disordered eating only affects young, white women — but it defs doesn’t discriminate by age, race, or even weight. And it shows up in a lot of harmful and unhealthy ways! 

Disordered Eating Symptoms

Disordered eating and eating disorders appear very similar, but the key difference between them is degree. While many of the symptoms and eating patterns of disordered eating are the same as those of eating disorders, they are not practiced as regularly or as severely. The symptoms of disordered eating are more sporadic, meaning it doesn’t quite meet the threshold of a clinical eating disorder. This also makes it harder to diagnose! 

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Stomach pains (abdominal cramps, constipation, acid reflux, etc.)
  • Fainting and feeling dizzy, weak, or tired — especially when standing up. 
  • Changes in bowel movements and menstrual cycle. 
  • Changes in the condition of skin, hair, nails and teeth.
  • Noticeable weight fluctuations, either gaining or losing. 

Emotional symptoms include:

  • Being preoccupied with food intake, exercise, weight, and dieting.
  • High awareness of numeric indicators such as: counting calories, macros, food type percentages, calories burned, time spent exercising, etc.
  • Self-esteem is based on body image, size, or shape and the number on the scale. 
  • Feeling uncomfortable eating certain types of food or any food around others. 
  • Performing food rituals or excessive exercise.
  • Frequently looking in the mirror (known as body checking) or stepping on the scale. 
  • Mood swings and trouble concentrating. 

Disordered Eating Patterns 

Disordered eating shows up in many different ways, just like diets come in many different forms! You may choose to cut out food groups, count calories, fast for non-religious reasons, or force yourself to keep portions so small that they don’t fully satiate you. ALL of these are examples of disordered behaviours! Other disordered eating patterns include: 

  • Restricting major food groups (ie. carbs or fats) and labelling certain foods as “bad” or “unsafe.”
  • Using steroids or creatine to enhance athletic performance and appearance. 
  • Using laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or diet pills to lose weight (purging). 
  • Skipping meals or taking much smaller portions than are needed to satisfy your hunger. 
  • Fasting or chronic restrained eating.
  • Swapping out solid food for liquid meals.
  • Removing food from the environment or tampering with food to make it inedible.
  • Binge eating followed by induced vomiting. 

Risks Of Disordered Eating 

When you live with disordered eating for a long period of time, it can actually lead to a lot of other problems! First and foremost, it can lead to a clinical eating disorder — this includes anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorder otherwise not specified (as listed in the DSM V). But there are additional risks that may not be as clear-cut, like: 

  • Osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become more fragile. 
  • Fatigue and poor sleep quality. 
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea.
  • Headaches and muscle aches.
  • Esophageal deterioration.
  • Strain on the heart and other vital organs.
  • Anxiety and depression.

Escalation of these symptoms is actually the cause for the high mortality rate associated with eating disorders. The Harvard Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders reported that approximately 10,200 people die as a result of eating disorders each year. That’s one person every 52 minutes! It’s horrifying but totally understandable given the state of the weight debate in North America. Hannah explains:

A person’s overall health is composed of about a thousand different factors. And whatever your definition or your measurement of health is, you can lose it in an instant. Often due to reasons that are unforeseeable. Health is not a thing you can guarantee or wrestle into submission by sheer force of will. And pretending that health is solely a result of personal choices is not only untrue, but incredibly ableist. That narrative places shame and ridicule on people at the worst, most terrifying moments in their lives when they should be surrounded by care and support.

So, with a society and medical system that is only beginning to adapt, how can someone get help? Here are some options.

Treatment And Support 

If you think you may be struggling with disordered eating, or recognize the signs in someone you love, it’s important to act fast! When disordered eating becomes an ingrained habit, it’s MUCH harder to address and break the cycle. 

If you aren’t the one with a disordered eating condition and want to ensure you’re doing all you can not to further the messages and ideals that create them, Hannah has some helpful guidance for you:

Stop commenting on people’s bodies, good or bad. Every single time someone complimented my weight loss, they were fueling my eating disorder. Not just some of the time. Not just when they did it in a “bad” way. Every. Single. Time.

I went from being scorned and abused for my body to being constantly praised and admired for making it smaller. That sort of praise is intoxicating especially when you’ve gone your whole life without it. And it reinforced every twisted, toxic belief I had about thinness. It verified my belief that thinness was the key to love, success, community, happiness, and fulfillment. Every single compliment made me believe that lie more and more and more…

It is not appropriate to comment on another person’s body, whether compliment or criticism. Because each comment is transactional. It either adds or subtracts the perception of worth to/from that individual based on how closely their appearance aligns with sexist, fatphobic, racist beauty ideals. Even if you’re paying someone a compliment, it just means that you think they’re succeeding at a rigged game.

If you are struggling with disordered eating, here are 5 ways you can receive support and seek treatment.

1. Attend Therapy

A mental health professional can help you in achieving body acceptance, explain the psychological issues behind disordered eating and explain how to eventually (once the physical symptoms of an ED have subsided) practice intuitive eating to respect the body’s natural hunger signals. Psychotherapy plays a big part in breaking down complex relationships with food and diet culture. 

A therapist will also provide you with coping strategies to use when you are having down days or rough moments. 

2. Find a Doctor That Listens

If you already have a great doctor that actually listens to you then you are already one step ahead! If you don’t, it is vital to find someone who will listen and provide treatment and support without judgement. It fucking sucks that it’s up to each of us to find a doctor who will ACTUALLY listen before throwing out the good ol’ “have you thought about diet and exercise?” (As if your body is experiencing a simple technical issue and you just need to unplug it and then plug it back in.) But good and thorough docs DO exist and they can be literal life-savers! So, put in some time to find yourself a doctor who is as invested in a solution as you are. 

If you are too frustrated or nervous to do this alone (SO understandable!) then ask someone you trust to help you in your search. Have a parent, partner, or close friend tag along to your first couple of appointments. Sometimes they can vouch for you even better than you would because they are coming from a clearer headspace (and won’t put up with someone gaslighting or dismissing you). 

3. Educate Yourself & Others

You will learn a lot about yourself and your condition as you speak with therapists and doctors. And, if you have the energy, you can also find a lot of resources online. As always, be careful what you pay attention to and where the information is coming from so that you don’t give toxic, or inaccurate, information a free room in your brain. Here are a few resources we recommend:

For a more interactive experience learning about disordered eating, check out Hannah’s course “Disordered Eating: What Is It and How Does It Show Up?” in the DiveThru app. She teaches the fundamental elements of disordered eating, covers various eating disorders, and talks about what treatment and recovery look like.

And, if you’re comfortable, remember to share all of this newfound information with others. Increasing awareness of disordered eating and the pitfalls of diet culture (and weight-focused treatments) will slowly start to make a difference in the societal mindset.

4. Practice Daily Body Gratitude

Hannah recommends this daily body gratitude exercise that has been helpful for her. Repeat these affirmations outloud for yourself. 

Thank you for my brain which houses my thoughts and my dreams.

Thank you for my face which allows other people to experience my emotions and my thoughts visually.

Thank you for my arms which allow me to hug my friends.

Thank you for my chest which supports my body, and my heart which pumps blood.

Thank you for my stomach, which expands and contracts and makes space for me.

Thank you for my legs, which help me walk and run and stand and get from place to place.

Thank you for existing.

5. Follow Wisely

Choose wisely when following people on Instagram and TikTok. The body positivity movement has been largely co-opted by thin, white women (many pushing diet and exercise regimes) who typically aren’t fully informed on the complexities of body politics and the harms of fatphobia. Instead of giving them space on your feeds, find accounts that are about body neutrality/acceptance and self-care. This article has a BIG list of recommendations for who to follow!

You are beautiful and incredible and you deserve to feel like it! We hope this information helps you better understand disordered eating so that you can find appropriate support and medical assistance for yourself or loved ones.

If you, or someone you know, is in imminent danger, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately.

How to Practice Self-Care During Your Period

You’ve been feeling off for the past week. Your stomach is unhappy, you’ve got a wicked headache, and you cried HARD with every dog video that was on your fyp. You don’t know why everything has felt so weird, but then you get that feeling and remember that you have a uterus…and that it likes to painfully remind you of its existence. AHH it all makes sense now. Your body was just giving you warning signs your period is coming!

Periods can be an annoying block to living a happy, functional, comfortable life, even before they begin. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects over 90 percent of people who have periods, and if our math is right, that’s, like, A LOT of people. Here are six signs your period may be coming, and how to take care of yourself so it’s a bit more bearable.

Signs Your Period Is Coming

You may notice all of these or only some of these! We hope it’s the latter.

1. Cramps

Period cramps can happen during your period, but they can also be a sign that it’s about to start. They can range from mildly annoying to straight up painful. This is caused by your uterus contracting in order to shed its uterine lining. Unfortunately, you can feel that squeeze, too. Not fun.

2. Bloating

Your fave jeans went from fitting your body well to cut-off-circulation kind of tight, and it’s only been a week since you last wore them. Yeeeahh, that’s probably bloating, and that can get worse when you PMS. Throw on a loose, flowy pair of pants, call it a fashion choice. No one has to know.

3. Mood Swings

Since when did videos of baby ducks make you sob uncontrollably? Thank you PMS. Mood swings can get more intense before your period. Watch some tear jerkers and let it all out. We feel your struggle. 

4. Tender Breasts

As if all of the above wasn’t enough, why don’t we add sore breasts to the list? About halfway through your cycle, your progesterone levels start to increase, which swells the mammary glands and causes them to be sore. Greeeeat. Bust out your comfiest bras and loosest sweaters for the next week or so.

5. Headaches and Migraines

That pounding in your head might be hormone-related. Over 50% of people who already deal with migraines report migraine issues before they menstruate, and you’re 1.7-2.5x more likely to get a migraine while PMSing. The cherry on top of an already shitty time. 

6. Acne

Do you notice acne flare-ups when you PMS? Yeah, you’re not alone. A 2001 study found that just under half of the menstruating population dealt with increased acne before their periods. Get that skincare routine on lock and prepare for a few extra zits.

5 Self-Care Tips for PMS and Periods

So now that you know your period is on its way, how do you take care of yourself? It can be tempting to let go of all self-care when periods make life that much more uncomfortable but trust us, focusing on self-care is gonna help you feel better. We’ve got some tips and tricks to make that “time of the month” a little easier on you. 

1. Keep a Menstrual Calendar

Whether you have a physical calendar, a little red mark on your journal entries, or you use a period tracker app, knowing when your period is coming is going to help you understand all those PMS symptoms you’re feeling. Plus, it can remind you to restock on whatever you need to get you through the week! Pads, tampons, intimate wipes, Kleenex, chocolate bars (ps there’s an M&M bar that is absolutely amazing). We have Lunette Intimate Wipes on our list because they’re made with vulva-friendly ingredients so you can use them in any place you want. You can even clean your menstrual cup with them. No more mess, no more stress. It always helps to know what’s coming.

2. Get Moving

Exercise can be the last thing on your mind when it feels like there’s a cage match going on in your uterus. That said, it’s been proven to be beneficial to your mental health, and can spread all those happy endorphins in your brain. Doing some sort of physical activity for just 30 minutes per day can have huge benefits. Don’t worry if it’s not a 30 minute HIIT, extra sweaty workout – even a walk around the block or a tiny bit of yoga will do!

3. Take a Warm Bath (and a Mindfulness Moment)

Getting into a warm, relaxing bath can reduce stress and loosen up tense muscles, which is exactly what your body needs right now. You can try adding the Lunette Intimate Cleanser to the routine to feel extra refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s vegan, pH balanced and infused with Nordic Oil to cleanse, soothe, and moisturize. And since you’re already taking this time for yourself, you may want to throw in a mindfulness exercise to help bring some calm vibes into the symptom firestorm. Breathe in for 4 counts. Hold it for 4 counts. Breathe out for 4 counts. Much better. 

4. Manage Period Pain

All the baths, exercise, and journaling in the world isn’t going to make your life easier if you’re still in pain. You can help period cramps with over-the-counter medication (like ibuprofen), a heat pad applied to the back or pelvis area, stretching, and taking the right vitamins. If you’ve noticed that your periods are more painful than they used to be, or there have been more intense symptoms, you may want to book an appointment with a gynecologist. Don’t be worried about the visit – they’ve seen it all, and they want to help you understand your body and your options. 

5. Talk About It

Stigma around menstruation can cause the whole topic to be very hush hush. But menstruating people spend, on average, 3500 days of their life menstruating. That’s about nine and a half years. Considering that it’s soooo much time in menstruating people’s lives, talking openly about it just makes sense. Plus, there are mental health benefits around talking about it, like reducing shame and letting those around you know what you’re going through. So call a menstruating person in your life and swap some PMS and period stories. 

Now that you’ve tried some techniques to take care of yourself during your period, how do you stick to it? Make it a routine! Developing a self-care plan can help you prioritize your wellbeing in this busy, crampy, bloaty time. While developing your period plan, maybe you leave more room for slow, relaxed stretches and warm bubble baths than you would at other times of the month. Good luck out there! 

*This article is sponsored by Lunette.