A new TikTok challenge is emerging against eating disorders. Does it work ?

A new TikTok challenge is emerging against eating disorders.  Does it work ?

Social networks are a place that allows sick people to find support. This is the case for TikTok and people suffering from anorexia nervosa, through the Fear food challenge, a challenge which consists of filming yourself eating the foods you fear the most. Is this a recommended approach for all patients? The answers of Dr Vannina Micheli-Retchman, psychiatrist and author of the book “The New Fatal Beauties – Eating disorders as image pathologies” published by Eres.

Social networks are a preferred source of information for younger generations regarding health. On the other hand, we must sometimes be wary of certain challenges put forward by these platforms, which can have harmful consequences.

The Fear food challenge or forcing yourself to eat the foods you fear

To illustrate this trend, we can mention the Fear food challenge, a challenge popularized by the social network TikTok. Anorexic people challenge themselves to eat a food among those that repel them the most, because of their pathology.

This is the case of Isaure Taillebois, a content creator on the social network, who explains: “Anorexia has had a significant impact on my life. And it notably pushed me to demonize a good number of foods”.

A “harmful” impact for these anorexic people

To take on this challenge, you have to draw lots from among all the most feared foods. For Isaure, it was the cookie. “This cookie represents everything my illness and society has taught me to demonize: sugar, butter, and chocolate. These are ingredients that are not inherently bad, but by demonizing them I have developed an intense fear of them. I’m afraid of eating, it’s an irrational fear” she adds.

In her video, she films herself going to buy the cookie, which she eats in two portions, one half for her snack and the second in the evening. Before congratulating himself on having succeeded in meeting this challenge. The latter has thus become popular on the platform, but is it really a good idea?

Beware of the dangerous side of this practice, warns Dr. Micheli-Rechtman

To better understand the impacts of this type of challenge, TipsForWomens interviewed Dr. Vannina Micheli-Rechtman, a psychiatrist specializing in eating disorders. For her, the subject is important because social networks have a “significant impact on eating disorders”.

According to the specialist, “rWatching this type of video or producing them are both equally harmful behaviors. If there are a few cases where support and mutual aid can exist, in the vast majority of cases, it is dangerous, because we do not know what happens to the sick person the days after.”. A feeling of guilt can also develop, if we realize that we are unable to meet the challenge.

Rely on networks of health professionals

If this type of challenge should therefore be avoided, the psychiatrist recommends that people affected by anorexia nervosa turn to health specialists. “We are lucky in Europe to have a health network rich in different professionals, who can take care of patients and help them overcome their illness. They are the ones we must turn to.”.

And if the idea of ​​reintroducing feared foods is not bad, it is above all the form that the expert denounces. “We too, as health professionals, will follow our patients and gradually reintroduce the foods they no longer consume. But this will certainly not be done in front of a camera, with the aim of posting a video of the result on the social networks” she concludes.