#22: How do I love my child's genetic body blueprint?

with Cynthia Bulik, PhD, FAED

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In this episode we discuss…

  • dr. bulik’s background and how she came to study the genetics of eating disorders

  • how eating disorders are often misunderstood as solely related to sociocultural factors or parenting

  • research showing eating disorders run in families due to genetic factors

  • the role of both genes and environment in both risk for and protective factors against eating disorders

  • how to help a child who’s at a high genetic risk for developing an eating disorder

  • creating a buffering environment while being aware you can’t control everything as a parent

  • childhood anxiety and perfectionism as possible harbingers for future eating disorders

  • the impact of how you talk about bodies (your own, others’, and your child’s)

  • creating a grateful atmosphere around our bodies

  • avoiding negative energy balance at all costs for those with family history of anorexia nervosa

  • speaking proactively to kids about risk if they have a family history of eating disorders

  • weight stigma and growth charts

  • talking to pediatricians about your child’s weight and health

  • cynthia’s answer to the million dollar question

Dr. Cynthia Bulik shares insights from the research on the genetics of eating disorders. We discuss how parents can create a buffering environment to navigate the genetic factors that impact a child's risk of developing an eating disorder.

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Clinical psychologist Cynthia M. Bulik, Ph.D., FAED is the Founding Director of the University of North Carolina Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, Distinguished Professor of Eating Disorders at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Professor of Nutrition in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is also Professor of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Director of the Center for Eating Disorders Innovation at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Dr. Bulik received her BA from the University of Notre Dame and her MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed internships and post-doctoral fellowships at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Bulik has developed eating disorders programs in New Zealand, the United States, and Sweden and has active collaborations all over the world. She has published more than 600 papers and chapters on eating disorders. She is author of seven books including Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop, The Woman in the Mirror, Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery, and Binge Control: A Compact Recovery Guide.

Dr. Bulik has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Eating Disorders Coalition Research Award, the Academy for Eating Disorders Leadership Awards for Research and Advocacy, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Eating Disorders Association. Dr. Bulik is past president of the Academy for Eating Disorders, past Vice-President of the Eating Disorders Coalition, and past Associate Editor of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, and serves on advisory boards of several advocacy organizations.

Connect with Dr. Bulik on her website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Jordan Best