Friday, March 23, 2012

When you do it alone, there's a problem...

I recently blogged about whether I have a responsibility to stop preaching good body image when I don't practice it myself (HERE is also a previous post I did about eating disorders and diets).  I started thinking about it, and I almost feel like I have a responsibility to provide a voice for people (especially young girls) who have developed (or are developing) eating disorders as they try to keep up with the ridiculous standards set by society.  On one hand, we're going to put up a McDonald's on every other corner.  On the other, we're going to constantly call you a fat ass by publishing magazines with airbrushed photos of models with unattainable bodies.

According to THIS study, up to 65% of adult American women have "disordered eating," with an additional 10% actually battling anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.  SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT!  Other findings:
  • 75 percent of women report disordered eating behaviors or symptoms consistent with eating disorders; so three out of four have an unhealthy relationship with food or their bodies
  • 67 percent of women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) are trying to lose weight
  • 53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight
  • 39 percent of women say concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness
  • 37 percent regularly skip meals to try to lose weight
  • 27 percent would be “extremely upset” if they gained just five pounds
  • 26 percent cut out entire food groups
  • 16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day or fewer
  • 13 percent smoke to lose weight
  • 12 percent often eat when they’re not hungry; 49 percent sometimes do

I have been watching some weight loss related streams on Tumblr.  There seems to be a tug-o-war between the people I follow.  The skinny girls posting headless pictures of their bodies in the mirror, usually patting themselves on the back for losing five pounds but clearly still looking for compliments by claiming they need to lose five more.  The curvy girls trying to love their curves by posting inspirational and beautiful photos of girls with a little more meat on their bones.  People post photos, ask questions and give dieting advice.  The sad thing is, a lot of the "skinny girls" are being completely unrealistic.  If a teenage girl is watching this same stream and thinking she too should look like some other girl who clearly eats only a shred of lettuce per day, she is going to "fail!"  (Or, in the defense of my naturally thin friends, some people are just that thin and us big-boned girls can't expect to ever look like them.)

Jason Waight
So, today I want to talk about binge eating.  Binge eating disorder is defined by the Mayo Clinic as ..."a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, shrouded in secrecy."

Ahhh, the secrecy part.  You mean, when I keep jellybeans in my car so no one will find them?  Or I stop by the gas station for a bag of cookies that I can eat before I get home?  I've never really considered myself a binge eater because I've always been told that people who binge eat will put down like entire cakes or a whole side of beef.  That's not me.  I also was under the impression that binge eaters also had to purge.  I don't throw up.  But you can be a binge eater without being bulimic.  So like an addict, however, to find a way to distance myself from those "other people."

Here are some signs that you may be a binge eater:
  • Eating large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you're full
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Eating a lot even though you're not hungry
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Frequent dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset about your eating
Here are some suggested home remedies:
  • Stick to your treatment. Don't skip therapy sessions. If you have meal plans, do your best to stick to them and don't let setbacks derail your overall efforts.
  • Avoid dieting. Trying to diet can trigger more binge episodes, leading to a vicious cycle that's hard to break.
  • Eat breakfast. Many people with binge-eating disorder skip breakfast. But, if you eat breakfast, you may be less prone to eating higher calorie meals later in the day.
  • Don't stock up. Keep less food in your home than you normally do. That may mean more-frequent trips to the grocery store, but it may also take away the temptation and ability to binge eat.
  • Get the right nutrients. Just because you may be eating a lot during binges doesn't mean you're eating the kinds of food that supply all of your essential nutrients. Talk to your doctor about vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Stay connected. Don't isolate yourself from caring family members and friends who want to see you get healthy. Understand that they have your best interests at heart.
  • Get active. Talk to your health care providers about what kind of exercise is appropriate for you, especially if you have health problems related to being overweight.
 Other suggested coping mechanisms:
  • Ease up on yourself. Don't buy into your own self-criticism.
  • Identify situations that may trigger destructive eating behavior so that you can develop a plan of action to deal with them.
  • Look for positive role models who can help lift your self-esteem, even if they're not easy to find. Remind yourself that the ultrathin models or actresses showcased in women's magazines or gossip magazines often don't represent healthy, realistic bodies.
  • Try to find a trusted confidant you can talk to about what's going on. Together, you may be able to come up with some treatment options.
  • Try to find someone who can be your partner in the battle against binge eating — someone you can call on for support instead of bingeing.
  • Find healthy ways to nurture yourself by doing something just for fun or to relax, such as yoga, photography, meditation or simply a walk.
  • Consider journaling about your feelings and behaviors. Journaling can make you more aware of your feelings and actions, and how they're intertwined.
I know this is getting long, but here is an article that just came out about binge eating.  I will italicize the parts I really like.

The Ranch’s Renowned Eating Disorder Expert to Address Resistance in Obesity & Binge Eating Disorder Treatment at Professional Workshop

On March 24, 2012, The Ranch’s eating disorder consultant, Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, will host a professional workshop at the annual IAEDP Symposium exploring the five points of resistance patients commonly face in treatment for binge eating disorder and obesity.

The stigmatization of people who are different sizes and targeting of overweight children with negative messaging only increases the risk of eating disorders and obesity. 
Nunnelly, TN (PRWEB) March 20, 2012 

Why is it so difficult for men and women to overcome binge eating disorder and obesity even when they are motivated to do so? This is one of the questions that will be addressed by Carolyn Coker Ross, MD, MPH, a renowned eating disorder and obesity expert and consultant for The Ranch’s eating disorder program, on March 24, 2012, at the annual International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IADEP) Symposium in Charleston.

“In our culture and even in medicine, there continues to be a type of fat phobia,” Dr. Ross said. “The stigmatization of people who are different sizes and targeting of overweight children with negative messaging only increases the risk of eating disorders and obesity. It’s time to recognize that what we’re doing is not working and take a new approach.”

Titled “Addressing Therapeutic Roadblocks in Clients with Binge Eating Disorder and Obesity with Integrative Therapies,” the upcoming professional workshop will explore the complex factors contributing to binge eating disorder and obesity, including a research review of the neurobiological causes of these common disorders. Dr. Ross will also address the specific therapeutic roadblocks patients commonly face, as well as integrative therapies to overcome these obstacles. The workshop will conclude with experiential exercises in Zero Balancing, guided imagery, yoga asanas and breathwork.

“A take-away message for clinicians is to stop focusing so heavily on the number on scale,” said Dr. Ross. “The preponderance of evidence shows that the number on the scale isn’t what causes heart disease, diabetes and other health risks. What matters more for cardiovascular and metabolic fitness is what we eat, how often we move and other lifestyle factors.”

Dr. Ross is an internationally known author, speaker and pioneer in the use of integrative medicine to treat eating disorders, obesity and addictions. Earlier this month, she led an interactive discussion about the way the media affects body image and shapes society’s ideals of beauty at the Binge Eating Disorder Association national conference in Philadelphia. She also spoke at the Ben Franklin Institute Summit for Clinical Excellence in Chicago, addressing integrative medicine approaches to treating patients with eating disorders and trauma.

Next month, Dr. Ross will host a professional workshop about the health benefits of ancestral culture-based diets at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine’s 9th Annual Nutrition & Health Conference in Boston. In addition to ancestral American diets, Dr. Ross will highlight health-promoting aspects of the Paleolithic diet, the Mediterranean diet, and Japanese and Korean diets, among others. 

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If you believe you may have an eating disorder, please seek help.  I know it is so frustrating when people tell you, "just stop."  Oh okay, thanks, I hadn't thought of that one before!  I am in therapy but don't think I've been open and honest enough with my therapist (I mean, I thought I was being honest but now realize I don't think I even understood how deeply rooted my problem is).  Maybe I need to share this link with her!  I know I need to "just stop" and I am taking daily strides to do so.  But it is a daily battle and some days I win.  Some I lose.  I am just hoping to start having more winning days than losing ones. 

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