As TikTok continues to get blasted for promoting pro-eating disorder content, nutritionists, intuitive eating specialists, eating disorder coaches and body acceptance activists have begun to flood the platform in an effort to dispel false beliefs about dieting and overexercising.
One such eating disorder specialist who has recently joined TikTok is Lindsay Ronga. After overcoming her own eating disorder, Ronga founded body and food freedom coaching program OutshiningED, and now she builds off of her own seven-year struggle to empower others to love themselves.
On TikTok, where she’s been actively posting since September 2019, Ronga has nearly 11,000 followers and more than 304,000 likes across all of her videos. The majority of those likes come from a video she posted on August 10, in which she eats her “fear food” and encourages others struggling with an eating disorder to do the same.
“I was having a piece of chocolate chip banana bread and it occurred to me how this type of food used to terrify me when I was battling the eating disorder. So I decided to film it,” she explained.
In eating disorder recovery, a “fear food” is something that is scary or hard to eat. “The eating disorder convinces you that something awful will happen when you eat this food,” Ronga explained. “That you will gain weight or feel so terrible afterwards that you won’t be able to sit with yourself.”
The idea of Ronga’s video is to encourage anyone struggling with an eating disorder to work on normalizing their fear foods so eventually they become “just foods.” Though she isn’t physically present, her recording is meant to serve as a comforting crutch, as a reminder that progress is possible.
On TikTok, Ronga says the response to her video — which has received more than 171,000 likes — has been “really profound.”
“The number of DMs I’ve received from young women sharing for the first time that they have an eating disorder has been too many to count,” she said. “Eating disorders thrive on secrecy and it’s scary to admit that you’re struggling.”
In addition to direct messages, many TikTokers have taken to the comments to share that Ronga’s video inspired them to eat their fear foods. Several users have also dueted Ronga’s video, capturing the moment they took a courageous leap.
The eating disorder coach says she’s “personally watched at least 20” duets, during which teens are “taking a bite of their fear food sometimes with tears down their face, saying how they wouldn’t have been able to do this otherwise.”
“Knowing that this video was the catalyst for some people to finally share that they’re struggling is priceless,” Ronga said. “It’s really special to witness this.”
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