I want to scream every time I see this advertisement: “Get your body ready for bathing suit season”. This is a typical fitness & diet advertisement that plays over and over during the Summer months. Guess what? Your body is all ready for bathing suit season-no changes needed. Don’t believe me? Keep reading!
What is body image?
Body image is a mental image of what we think we look like. Body image is not necessarily how we look, but how we think we look. It is dynamic. That is, body image is dependent on the situation or your mood. For example, you may have a more positive body image if you are out enjoying yourself on a nice hike. In contrast, you may have a poorer body image if you are anxious in a new social situation. Your mood affects how you think about yourself.
Unfortunately, eating disorders in midlife are on the rise. Many eating disorders in adult women may go undiagnosed because of the mistaken belief that older women don’t develop eating disorders. It is true that adolescent girls are at a higher risk, but women of all ages are at risk for developing and maintaining an eating disorder.
Adult women usually present with eating disorders in the three following ways:
- An eating disorder was developed earlier in their life. That is, as an adolescent or young adult the individual developed her eating disorder, but never fully recovered. Adequate treatment, motivation to change, social & family support, etc. are all necessary for a full recovery.
- The second scenario is similar to the first, an eating disorder developed in adolescence or early adulthood and the individual fully recovered through treatment. But, then in midlife, a relapse took place either in response to environmental, social, psychological and/or physical stressors and the eating disorder returned.
- In this last scenario, which is the least common, is that the onset of the eating disorder first occurred in midlife. That is to say, the individual had no pre-existing eating disorder. The most common type of eating disorder that starts in mid-life is binge eating disorder (click here to learn more about binge eating disorder).
Accurate information & challenging misconceptions is an important first step in getting treatment for binge eating disorder. The phrase “binge eating” gets used a lot in the media & pop culture. I have gathered some common myths about binge eating disorder (BED) that I have seen over my 15 years of working with clients with eating disorders.
Myth: Overeating regularly at meal or snack time is considered binge eating.
We forget that food is necessary to survive. Food is not optional. Dieting makes us think we can go without carbohydrates, fats or other food groups. But, we just can’t. Food and eating are not about willpower, it is about biology.
Dieting leads to food preoccupation
The most basic function of our brain is to keep us alive. When our basic needs are not being met, our bodies experience stress. Our brain sends us alerts to get us what we need. Most diets aren’t sufficient in energy (calories) or macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein & fat). Therefore, our brains alert us that we need to eat.
Types of anxiety
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common types of mental health disorders in the U.S. They affect up to 18% of the U.S. Population. There are several different kinds of anxiety disorders including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder. In this post, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) will be discussed. GAD affects approximately 3.1% of the population. Women are more likely to experience GAD than men.
What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
We all experience worry from time to time. It is normal to feel anxious before a test, a job interview or other big events. Normally, after the event, like a first date for example, the worry disappearsContinue reading
Among clinicians, there is much debate if food addiction is a bonafide diagnosis. Some believe absolutely food can be addictive. In fact, science shows that our brains are activated in the same way it is with drugs when we eat highly palatable, good tasting food.
People who describe themselves as food addicts have a compulsive drive to eat, even when they are not hungry. Eating, perhaps, to soothe emotions or to “check-out”. Short-term overeating feels good. But, long-term it can feel pretty uncomfortable. There is a sense of loss of control described by people who feel like they are food addicts. Furthermore, attempts to stop overeating are made, but with little success. Sounds similar to drug or alcohol addiction, right?
Who doesn’t want to be perfect, right? What’s wrong with perfectionism? We all want things to go well for ourselves in our career & school and personal lives. Setting high standards can lead to high achievement.
Perfectionism, on the other hand, is striving for things to be perfect in most aspects of life, all of the time. And when things don’t go perfect, as things often don’t in life, the person who suffers from perfectionism is self-critical and blaming. This self-criticism, which often is intended to motivate, actually leads to poor self-esteem, extreme fear of failure and procrastination (“I can’t do it perfectly, so I won’t try”). Perfectionism is a losing proposition. We are human. We are going to make mistakes. Being perfect all of the time is an impossible standard to meet. Studies show that perfectionism can lead poor self-esteem, burn-out, procrastination, chronic stress, poor relationships, depression & anxiety, eating disorders and increases the risk for suicide.Continue reading
Intuitive Eating was introduced in my post, Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster, For Good! In this second post of the series, I will summarize the 10 principles discussed in Intuitive Eating that helps readers learn to stop dieting and enjoy eating again!Continue reading
Every year in late February the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) hosts eating disorder awareness week. This year’s theme is “It’s Time to Talk About It”.
I love this theme as often people struggle for years with eating and exercise problems in silence. Due to our crazy diet culture, it is hard to separate what is normative and what is an eating disorder. Furthermore, there are a lot of people struggling with sub-clinical eating disorders or disordered eating. Sub-clinic eating disorders mean that someone struggles with food issues, but doesn’t meet the criteria for a full-blown eating disorder.
Clinical eating disorder or disordered eating causes pain to the sufferer and those around them. Therefore, the key is getting help & not suffer in silence.
NEDA is a great place to start they offer:
⇒Free and confidential on-line screening tools
⇒Blog and videos from recovered individuals & clinicians
⇒And much, much more!
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I highly recommend reading and learning about Intuitive Eating developed by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA.
The first edition of Intuitive Eating was published in 1995. For over 15 years, I have been using principles of Intuitive Eating with clients. Recently, I trained with Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD to become a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. I am excited to share the ins & outs of Intuitive Eating & other tools, over my blog, webinars and in one-on-one sessions.
Intuitive Eating is an evidence-informed approach to making peace with food used by counselors, dietitians and eating disorder treatment centers across the country and worldwide.Continue reading