What’s It Like to be Homeless with an Eating Disorder?

Complicated. And More Common Than You Think.

Nicole M. Luongo
10 min readNov 21, 2020
Photo Credit: Liam Riby via Unsplash

When you read the words “eating disorder,” what comes to mind?

Do you visualize a young woman? Is she White? Able-bodied? Emaciated?

For decades this is who we have been taught to associate with disordered eating. That anyone else might struggle with food and body image concerns has been overlooked for a few reasons, including selection bias: Research on disordered eating tends to draw from clinical samples, meaning that people without formal diagnoses are excluded. This is particularly true of poor people for whom accessing costly and time — intensive medical care is impossible.

Fortunately, public perception about disordered eating is changing. Non — profit organizations are challenging weight and gender bias in treatment settings, providers with experiential knowledge are starting to frame disordered eating within its cultural contexts, and colonized groups are creating healing spaces outside the constraints of western capitalism. A few “non — traditional” celebrities have also spoken up.

We still have work to do, but we’re slowly making progress. Except, that is, when it comes to unhoused people. Based on omissions from the academic community, non — profit marketing…