Posts By / mfancy

Conversation article: Clean eaters tend to have difficulty managing their emotions

What do you do when you feel anxious about an upcoming interview or angry about a friend’s unfair comment on your behaviour? You might take a few deep breaths and try to view the situation from a different perspective: it’s just an interview, not a matter of life and death. And, on calmer reflection, your friend may be right – you did react a bit strongly.

Alternatively, you may bury your feelings in a tub of ice cream. The latter is called emotional eating and some people use it to regulate their emotions.

But not everyone turns to unhealthy eating to regulate unpleasant emotions. Our latest research, published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, suggests that some people actually eat healthily to do so. You might wonder what’s wrong with drinking a GM-free raw vegetable smoothie. Surely it can’t harm you? And for most people, it is harmless. But eating healthy food can become an unhealthy obsession called orthorexia nervosa.

Pathological obsession

Orthorexia nervosa is a term coined by Steven Bratman in 1997, from the Ancient Greek “ortho” meaning right and “orexia” meaning appetite, to describe a fixation on healthy eating. As such, orthorexia nervosa has also been referred to as “clean eating”, although the term orthorexia nervosa suggests a pathological obsession, rather than yet another fad diet.

Because healthy eating and healthy lifestyles are generally considered desirable, it can be difficult to spot when healthy eating becomes an unhealthy obsession. But an obsession with healthy eating can be hard for your physical and mental health as well your relationships. It can cause arguments with family or friends over food choices and lead to social isolation.

While orthorexia nervosa is not yet a recognised diagnosis, it shares some similarities with other eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa. Research shows that people with eating disorders have trouble recognising and regulating their emotions, but this had never been shown in people with orthorexic tendencies, so this was the focus of our study.

Out of control

We recruited 196 people with an interest in healthy eating through Facebook (including 167 women in the UK with an average age of 28). We found that difficulties identifying and regulating emotions were associated with orthorexic tendencies. In particular, people with orthorexic tendencies were found to feel out of control when upset and to have difficulty knowing how to regulate their emotions. The participants in our study with orthorexic tendencies also had trouble identifying and accepting their emotional reactions.

People with orthorexic tendencies often struggled to regulate their emotions.
GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Similar to a recently published study that looked at bloggers’ experiences of orthorexia nervosa, our findings suggest that people with orthorexic tendencies may use restrictive dietary rules around healthy eating to feel perfect and in control. They also use it to cope with difficult feelings, potentially because they feel they don’t have other ways to make themselves feel better.

While not everyone who eats healthily will have orthorexic tendencies, people who use obsessive and restrictive dietary rules to regulate unpleasant feelings may be at risk of developing orthorexia nervosa.

With around half of people on Instagram using it to share food experiences, the increased prevalence of fad diets, mixed information around what we should and should not eat, health guidelines, and even climate change, more and more people may decide to eat more healthily and control what they are eating. While this may all be for a good cause, we recommend people to be conscious of when their healthy obsession may become unhealthy.The Conversation

Laura Renshaw-Vuillier, Senior Lecturer, Psychology, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Ways of Seeing Sport Coaching Violence – a unique interactive installation

On Monday 4th November 2019, as part of the ESRC festival of social science, Dr Emma Kavanagh and Dr Adi Adams (Faculty of Management) alongside final year sport student Terri Harvey, curated and hosted an arts based installation to showcase their research on inter-personal violence in sport. The event adopted an innovative, immersive, sensory art-based method not traditionally utilised in sport coach education (but widely used in other ‘caring’ professions) to bring their research knowledge to life and allow coaches and other practitioners to engage with data in a dynamic manner. This was achieved through re-presenting research data collected by the BU academics in audio and visual forms.

Abuse, intimidation and violence in sport and coaching remains a significant global problem. In 2017 the British Government published the Duty of Care in Sport Review, sharing the findings of a critical inquiry into the culture and climate of elite sport in the United Kingdom. High performance sport came under significant scrutiny linked to a number of high profile accounts in the media that raised serious questions concerning the safety of elite sporting spaces and the threats they can pose to athlete welfare. Allegations of bullying, racial, sexual and gender abuse alongside other forms of discrimination have been made across Olympic and Paralympic sports. This ESRC event provided an opportunity to engage practitioners in debates surrounding the safety of sporting spaces as a way of promoting the duty of care in practice.

The event brought to life qualitative social science research data, currently available to academics through peer-reviewed journal articles through the production of an immersive arts-based installation. The data was used to enable those who attended to see/hear/feel and confront the contemporary issue of inter-personal violence in the world of sport coaching, from the perspective of ‘others’. The event aimed to bring sport coaches (and other practitioners) together around a shared concern/problem in the sport industry, with the aim of inspiring awareness, understanding, empathy, care and practical solutions to reducing interpersonal-violence. An arts and media-based approach is often adopted in the education of other ‘caring’ professions engaged in complex, difficult, ‘social’ and emotional work (e.g. nurses, medical practitioners, social workers, palliative care workers), yet has gained limited application in the sporting profession.

 

The event attracted significant attention from external practitioners, students and local organisations. Participants moved around and shared the immersive space with others, experiencing the ‘felt difficulty’ (Trevelyan et al., 2014) of ‘what it feels like’ to experience violence and intimidation as a participant in sport. It is anticipated that experiencing this ‘felt difficulty’, provoked by engaging with material that is ‘perplexing’ or ‘disorientating’ has the potential to provide a platform for coaches to reflect authentically on and transform their own practice. The impact of attending the installation is currently the topic of Terri’s dissertation and the team are excited to understand more about how participants experienced the event.

The event would not have been a success without the support of the ESRC team and, in particular, Adam Morris who helped drive the installation forward. In addition, thanks goes to the sport students who volunteered on the evening and actively engaged in the project through ‘becoming voices’. All of these people shared one passion; making sport a safer space for all those who participate in it.

Dr Mark Readman at the Creative Industries Workshop in Istanbul

Earlier this month I took part in a ‘Creative Industries Workshop’ in Istanbul. This was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Istanbul Development Agency. About 40 of us had won funding to attend – a mixture of UK and Turkish ‘experts’ (academics and industry representatives) – and we were tasked with addressing the challenges faced by Turkey’s creative industries.

The key issue presented to us was how to maximise the potential for growth, diversification and resilience in Turkey by identifying the specific affordances of the creative industries. There is clear ambition in Turkey to “increase the value added of goods and services produced in the country” and the UK is seen as a model for such growth.

The thematic areas which we addressed were: Ecosystem – the structures of finance, networking, collaboration, services, and actors which facilitate growth; Demand – the sensitivity to awareness, ‘customer needs’, and particularly the ways in which other sectors (such as tourism) might complement and stimulate this; Design and value added – the emphasis on digital transformation trends which might ‘intensify user experience’ through improving the quality of life; Data and knowledge – how the creative industries are defined, the relationship between data and policy, and possible research which might produce new models.

The workshop was a very stimulating fusion of different perspectives, and each group presented ‘solutions’ to the funding bodies which drew on our experience and understandings of successful policies and practices. Some of us, however, of a more critical mind set (and I won my funding on the basis of promising to provide this) had further questions that we wanted to pursue, for example: the need to avoid a kind of ‘colonial approach’, dispensing ‘wisdom’ from the UK; the problematic relationship between the creative industries and the craft industries – ways of achieving complementarity without collapsing key differences; the notional affordances of ‘ecosystems’ – some of us suggested that ‘true creativity’ prospered despite, rather than because of ‘ecosystems’; and, ultimately, the nature of this thing called the ‘creative industries’, which is often presented as an ‘ontological category’, but which tends to be a strategic category – some transparency about this seems to be required.

There will be a further call from the AHRC intended to nurture some of the collaborations that were made possible in the workshop, and the challenge will be to maintain this critical stance whilst working together to stimulate worthwhile projects (and we saw some excellent examples of existing initiatives). As we face life post-Brexit, Turkey is likely to be a significant partner, given its position, between Europe and Asia.

Mark Readman, FMC

Mentor + Media – a new app for professionals working with refugee youth

The “Media literacy for refugee youth” international project started in 2017 and its aim was to understand how unaccompanied minor refugees use digital technologies and social media. For this, the principal investigator of the project, Dr Annamária Neag, with the support of her mentor, Dr Richard Berger, carried out field work in Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and the UK. A total of 56 unaccompanied refugee kids were interviewed, and some of them also took part in a digital ethnography phase. Moreover, in London, a group of young people joined the participatory action research phase of the research.

Although the first aim was to understand how these young people use smart phones and social media, the final goal was to create media education materials that can aid their integration into a new society. For understanding the young people’s media lives, Dr Neag also interviewed mentors, guardians and educators who helped her in how to shape these educational materials.

          

Based on the research findings, the team decided that the best course of action was to create an app that could aid the work of mentors and social workers who look after unaccompanied refugee children. With the help of Kyle Goslan, from Bournemouth University, this app is now freely available for iPhones from the AppStore. Those interested in the app should only do a quick search for Mentor + Media on the AppStore and install it from there.

 

About Senait – or the perks of graphically illustrating research

In recent years it has become ever more important to ‘translate’ research findings to people outside academia. While writing blog posts or giving interviews is fairly common, illustrating research is not so much. However, there have been some very interesting projects that trialled this artistic method, and their success led Dr Annamária Neag to contact a Hungarian illustrator, Kata Tóth, to try out this new way at looking at academic research. Their acquaintance is not new, as the artists helped Dr. Neag create a board game to use as a tool for interviewing unaccompanied refugee youth.

The collaboration lasted a couple of months and it involved a very engaged discussion about what and how to represent the two-year long “Media literacy for refugee youth” project. This discussion helped clarify the most important aspects of the research, but it was also relevant to see how someone not involved in academic research sees the relevance of the findings.

Illustration by Kata Tóth

With more than 60 research participants (unaccompanied youth and mentors/educators), it was not an easy task to select just one story to illustrate. That is why, after much thinking and debate, Kata Tóth and Dr Neag decided to work with the metaphor of the digital labyrinth. This metaphor best exemplifies the journey young refugees need to take upon arriving in Europe and starting a new life here. Although the graphic novel presents the story of a 17-year-old girl from Eritrea, Senait, she is a fictional character. Her difficulties in getting settled in a new country and a new digital world, as well as her skills and strengths are representations of those of the young people Dr Neag interviewed during the project.

Illustration by Kata Tóth

Although it is not always easy to ‘translate’ research into a whole different medium, graphically representing academic projects can be fulfilling both professionally and personally. This endeavor can help in distilling the most important findings of your research and it can be a starting point for discussions with young people, students or anyone interested in social science research.

Further information: Finding a Way through the Digital Labyrinth is available from: https://issuu.com/blueanna/docs/illustration_final1

Kata Tóth is a freelance illustrator living in Budapest, Hungary: https://www.behance.net/katatoth

toth.kata.toth@gmail.com

Influencing public policy through research

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you interested in achieving policy impact? Then you may be interested in coming to a meeting that’s taking place next Thursday which will provide some useful insights into how to go about achieving this.

As you’re aware, engaging with policy makers can lead to significant and lasting impact. In order to explore this area in more depth, Professor Sangeeta Khorana has invited the Rt. Hon Stephen Crabb MP to BU to discuss how academic research is accessed by policy makers, how it can be used by those in Parliament and how it can lead to influencing policy.

Stephen is Member of Parliament for Preseli, Pembrokeshire and has held this constituency since 2005. He is a member of the Select Committee for Exiting the European Union, was previously Secretary of State for the Dept. of Work and Pensions, Secretary of State for Wales and a Government Whip. Stephen is therefore ideally placed to give some insights into how academic research is accessed and used by policy makers at the highest levels of government.

Professor Khorana has recently contributed economic research into the trade implications of Brexit to the Welsh Assembly and to the Welsh Affairs Committee.

Stephen will give a short talk on how to engage with policy makers, how they access and use research and how it can influence policy before a Q&A with Sangeeta about the impact of her work.

The event is taking place on Thursday 16th May at 11.30 – 12.30 in EB708.

If you would like to attend, please book a place using the following (private) Eventbrite link and enter the password Impact when prompted:

https://stephen_crabb_mp_policy_and_research.eventbrite.co.uk

If you would like to contribute to the discussion, please email questions for Stephen or Sangeeta to: impactofficers@bournemouth.ac.uk in advance.

Many thanks – hope to see you there.