Adult Faith Formation on Eating Disorders and Obesity

In our continuing series on our relationship with food, we met with Candy MacNeil, MSc, a therapist who i also part of the Waterloo-Wellington Eating Disorders Coalition.

She prepared the following notes for our session, and gave permission to reproduce them.

Who has an Eating Disorder?

Determining whether an individual has an eating disorder depends on many factors, including the following:

  • the need for control

  • perfectionism

  • strong desire to be liked by others

  • being a "people pleaser"

  • an inability to express feelings

  • family conflict

  • having a family member with an eating disorder

  • excessive competitiveness

  • abuse (current or past)

  • trauma (current or past)

  • major life changes

  • low self-esteem

  • poor body image

  • dieting

Basic Facts around Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia is the least common form of ED

  • Most people with ED are not visibly underweight, so you can’t tell by looking if someone has an ED

  • ED’s are illnesses, not vanity or diets gone awry

  • People with ED’s often also have depression, anxiety or another mental health issue

  • Even though ED’s seem like they’re about weight and food, they’re actually more about issues like control, avoidance of rejection or criticism, feelings of inadequacy, or coping with strong upsetting feelings

  • People with ED’s will frequently deny or genuinely not realize they’re sick – that’s part of the illness

  • ED’s frequently require professional treatment and treatment doesn’t always work

  • Often, treatment feels as bad as the illness so understand why someone resists!

  • Family and friends can get help even if the person with the ED isn’t ready for help. Take care of yourself when someone you care about is sick!

 Prepared by Candy MacNeil, M.Sc., RP. 2019. Permission to share is granted.


 CMHA offers free outpatient groups, dietitian and psychiatry for adolescents and adults.

Call HERE-247 to book an assessment.

 Homewood Health Centre, London Health Services, Credit Valley Hospital and Toronto General Hospital all offer inpatient/residential treatment. Some services are covered by OHIP, others are by extra insurance.

 NEDIC National Eating Disorder Information Centre offers a free listing of therapists, social workers, dietitians and treatment programs across Canada.

Visit them at

 Candy MacNeil’s website provides lots of information and resources. Visit

 Contact information for ED specialists. Visit

 A parents/partners/family support group is available free through the Waterloo-Wellington ED Coalition.  Visit them at

Framingham Study about relationships as key Health determinant. For a simple explanation see:

Health at Every Size – Linda Bacon -  examines how we can seek health no matter what our weight.



Prepared by Candy MacNeil, M.Sc., RP. 2019. Permission to share is granted.