Restrictive eating in anorexia nervosa: Examining maintenance and consequences in the natural environment

Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Erin C. Accurso, Anna C. Ciao, Ross D. Crosby, Li Cao, Emily M. Pisetsky, Daniel Le Grange, Carol B. Peterson, Scott J. Crow, Scott G. Engel, James E. Mitchell, Stephen A. Wonderlich

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6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective This study examined negative and positive affect in relation to restrictive eating episodes (i.e., meals/snacks perceived as restrictive) and whether restrictive eating was associated with likelihood of subsequent eating disorder behaviors (i.e., additional restrictive eating, binge eating, vomiting, laxative use, weighing, exercising, meal skipping, drinking fluids to curb appetite, body checking). Method Women with anorexia nervosa (N-=-118) completed a 2-week ecological momentary assessment protocol. Results For both restrictive and nonrestrictive eating, negative affect significantly increased from prebehavior to the time of the behavior but remained stable thereafter, while positive affect remained stable from prebehavior to the time of the behavior but decreased significantly thereafter. Across time, negative affect was significantly lower and positive affect was significantly greater in restrictive than nonrestrictive episodes. Engagement in restrictive eating was associated with an increased likelihood of subsequent restrictive eating, laxative use, and body checking, but not other behaviors. Engagement in nonrestrictive eating was associated with a decreased likelihood of subsequent restrictive eating, binge eating, vomiting, laxative use, weighing, meal skipping, drinking fluids to curb appetite, and body checking. Discussion Despite similar patterns of affect across eating episodes over time, results suggest affect may be involved in the maintenance of restrictive eating in anorexia nervosa since restrictive episodes were associated with lower negative and greater positive affect across time compared to nonrestrictive episodes. Further, while restrictive episodes increased the likelihood of only three subsequent eating disorder behaviors, nonrestrictive episodes were protective since they decreased likelihood of all but one behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-931
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume48
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2015

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Keywords

  • anorexia nervosa
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • negative affect
  • positive affect
  • restrictive eating

Cite this

Fitzsimmons-Craft, E. E., Accurso, E. C., Ciao, A. C., Crosby, R. D., Cao, L., Pisetsky, E. M., Le Grange, D., Peterson, C. B., Crow, S. J., Engel, S. G., Mitchell, J. E., & Wonderlich, S. A. (2015). Restrictive eating in anorexia nervosa: Examining maintenance and consequences in the natural environment. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 48(7), 923-931. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22439