Young people struggling with eating disorders find support on TikTok

TikTok creators are offering meal support for people in need. (Photo: Getty Images)
TikTok creators are offering meal support for people in need. (Photo: Getty Images)

A recent trend on TikTok is providing young people suffering with or recovering from an eating disorder with meal support by featuring creators eating food and offering users a safe space to virtually join them.

“I thought that it would be nice for you guys to have a video of me just sitting there eating so that if you ever are having a hard time eating you can come back to this video, sit there with me and enjoy your meal with me,” Clara Guillem says in a voiceover of a video of her eating a sandwich. “So, yeah. I love you guys. Use this whenever you want. I love you.” The sound has been used in 3,357 videos on the platform.

The 24-year-old who is currently living in Nashville, Tenn., tells Yahoo Life that she developed anorexia at the age of 14, sharing that social media platforms that perpetuated toxic content about body image encouraged her eating disorder. Now, as a full-time content creator focused on body confidence, eating disorder recovery and general mental health, she’s looking to change the way that young people interact with these platforms as well as with the people on them.

“My anorexia continued until I was about 20 years old,” Guillem says. “I remember the exact moment I decided to turn my account into a safe space for those with eating disorders. I had made a video asking people to stop posting toxic ‘what I eat in a days’ [videos] showing off their low-calorie meals on a kid’s app. Then, I got a comment from a 13-year-old girl saying she was struggling. I responded to the comment and all of a sudden I received hundreds of comments from kids that age saying they were unhappy with their bodies and engaging in harmful eating disorder habits. I knew then, that as an adult who had been through it all, and who they seemed to trust, it was my place to share my story and inspire others to get help.”

Guillem began to post videos where she shared her own experience with anorexia and her journey to recovery. She also would show herself eating food items that she previously deemed “fear foods” — what National Eating Disorders Association’s (NEDA) Communications Manager Chelsea Kronengold explains to Yahoo Life as different foods that might “trigger” someone with an eating disorder.

“That food can be associated with trauma for somebody, so that might be a fear food,” Kronengold says. “Generally speaking, fear foods are usually higher in calories, foods that the media perpetuates as ‘bad’ foods, even though at NEDA we don’t believe that there’s good or bad foods.”

Guillem is spreading that same message with content created specifically to share evidence of herself enjoying a variety of foods without guilt. During a TikTok live one day, she even realized the need to provide followers with more opportunities to feel encouraged to eat

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Rural Midwest hospitals struggling to handle coronavirus surge: “It just exploded”

Rural Jerauld County in South Dakota didn’t see a single case of the coronavirus for more than two months stretching from June to August. But over the last two weeks, its rate of new cases per person soared to one of the highest in the nation.

“All of a sudden it hit, and as it does, it just exploded,” said Dr. Tom Dean, one of just three doctors who work in the county.

Virus Outbreak Rural Spread
Dr. Tom Dean poses at his clinic in Wessington Springs, S.D., on Friday. Oct. 16, 2020.

Stephen Groves / AP


As the brunt of the virus has blown into the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, the severity of outbreaks in rural communities has come into focus. Doctors and health officials in small towns worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. And many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections.

Dean took to writing a column in the local weekly newspaper, the True Dakotan, to offer his guidance. In recent weeks, he’s watched as one in roughly every 37 people in his county has tested positive for the virus.

It ripped through the nursing home in Wessington Springs where both his parents lived, killing his father. The community’s six deaths may appear minimal compared with thousands who have died in cities, but they have propelled the county of about 2,000 people to a death rate roughly four times higher than the nationwide rate.

Rural counties across Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana sit among the top in the nation for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. Overall, the nation topped 8 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the university’s count on Friday; the true number of infections is believed to be much higher because many people have not been tested.

In counties with just a few thousand people, the number of cases per capita can soar with even a small outbreak – and the toll hits close to home in tight-knit towns.

“One or two people with infections can really cause a large impact when you have one grocery store or gas station,” said Misty Rudebusch, the medical director at a network of rural health clinics in South Dakota called Horizon Health Care. “There is such a ripple effect.”

Wessington Springs is a hub for the generations of farmers and ranchers that work the surrounding land. Residents send their children to the same schoolhouse they attended and have preserved cultural offerings like a Shakespeare garden and opera house.

They trust Dean, who for 42 years has tended to everything from broken bones to high blood pressure. When a patient needs a higher level of care, the family physician usually depends on a transfer to a hospital 130 miles (209 kilometers) away.

As cases surge, hospitals in rural communities are having trouble finding beds. A

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Rural Midwest hospitals struggling to handle virus surge

WESSINGTON SPRINGS, S.D. (AP) — Rural Jerauld County in South Dakota didn’t see a single case of the coronavirus for more than two months stretching from June to August. But over the last two weeks, its rate of new cases per person soared to one of the highest in the nation.

“All of a sudden it hit, and as it does, it just exploded,” said Dr. Tom Dean, one of just three doctors who work in the county.

As the brunt of the virus has blown into the Upper Midwest and northern Plains, the severity of outbreaks in rural communities has come into focus. Doctors and health officials in small towns worry that infections may overwhelm communities with limited medical resources. And many say they are still running up against attitudes on wearing masks that have hardened along political lines and a false notion that rural areas are immune to widespread infections.

Dean took to writing a column in the local weekly newspaper, the True Dakotan, to offer his guidance. In recent weeks, he’s watched as one in roughly every 37 people in his county has tested positive for the virus.


It ripped through the nursing home in Wessington Springs where both his parents lived, killing his father. The community’s six deaths may appear minimal compared with thousands who have died in cities, but they have propelled the county of about 2,000 people to a death rate roughly four times higher than the nationwide rate.

Rural counties across Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana sit among the top in the nation for new cases per capita over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. In counties with just a few thousand people, the number of cases per capita can soar with even a small outbreak — and the toll hits close to home in tight-knit towns.

“One or two people with infections can really cause a large impact when you have one grocery store or gas station,” said Misty Rudebusch, the medical director at a network of rural health clinics in South Dakota called Horizon Health Care. “There is such a ripple effect.”

Wessington Springs is a hub for the generations of farmers and ranchers that work the surrounding land. Residents send their children to the same schoolhouse they attended and have preserved cultural offerings like a Shakespeare garden and opera house.

They trust Dean, who for 42 years has tended to everything from broken bones to high blood pressure. When a patient needs a higher level of care, the family physician usually depends on a transfer to a hospital 130 miles (209 kilometers) away.

As cases surge, hospitals in rural communities are having trouble finding beds. A recent request to transfer a “not desperately ill, but pretty” sick COVID-19 patient was denied for several days, until the patient’s condition had worsened, Dean said.

“We’re proud of what we got, but it’s been a struggle,” he said of the 16-bed hospital.

The outbreak that killed Dean’s dad

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