Not Your Teens Eating Disorder: What you need to know about eating disorders in midlife.

eating disorders in midlifeUnfortunately, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).

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Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2017

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

⇒Confidential helpline

⇒Blog and videos from recovered individuals & clinicians

⇒And much, much more!



Get Off the Diet Roller Coaster, For Good!

Chronic dieter?   Feel out of control with food?  Tired of weight cycling?  Feel guilty after eating “bad” foods?  Feel at war with your body?  Concerned about your health?

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

5 Reasons *Not* to Diet in 2017

New Year's ResolutionIt is that time of year: When New Year’s resolutions have been set.  Many headlines promote the “newest” diet trends to “jump start” weight loss in 2017.

If you make this resolution year after year with little results & lots of frustration have you ever considered NOT dieting?

Want to get off the diet roller coaster?  Make peace with food? Feel more in control of your eating?  If you answered yes to any of these I encourage you to set a new type of resolution: NOT to diet in 2017 or really ever again.

Why you ask?  I will give you five good reasons:

1.  Dieting doesn’t work for long-term weight regulation.  Scientists don’t have any good data that shows dieting works consistently in reducing weight, long-term.Continue reading

Weight Stigma Awareness Week 2015

According to an on-line dictionary stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person”.  Synonyms of stigma include shame, disgrace and dishonor.  Weight stigmatization is essentially shaming and blaming people about their body weight.

In efforts to promote awareness and ultimately prevention of weight bias in our culture, The Binge Eating Disorder Association sponsors a week long Weight Stigma Awareness Week annually in September.  This year’s theme, held September 21st through 25th, is “Bias and Bullying: Weight Stigma in Diverse Communities.”

Studies suggest that weight bias may actually INCREASE the likelihood of obesity, binge eating and staying obese.

Weight BiasWeight stigma is wide spread throughout our society including areas of employment, education and health/mental health care.  Studies indicate that weight stigma is on the rise in our society.  Weight stigma often is internalized by individuals which can lead to shame, hopelessness, isolation, etc.

A recent study published in Pediatric Obesity (July 2015) found that weight-based bullying is the most prevalent form of bullying in our youth.   This study found that more kids are being teased about their body weight than academic ability, physical/cognitive disables, sexual orientation, race & ethnicity or religion.  According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the consequences of weight-based bullying increases our children’s risk for depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, poor body image, suicidal thoughts, poor academic performance and avoidance of health promoting behaviors.Continue reading

Bullying Can Trigger Disordered Eating

We alBullying and Eating Disordersl know that bullying is harmful to our children.  And researchers and eating disorder professionals are now just starting to understand that bullying can contribute to disordered eating.  If a pre-teen or teen has an eating disorder they could be using their eating disorder behaviors to cope with being bullied.  To read more about how disordered eating/eating disorders are believed to be “helpful” in coping with life stresses please visit here.

**Eating disorders are described as maladaptive coping skills-behaviors that are harmful overtime.

Can’t Follow a Diet?

Can't follow a dietWhether you are a chronic dieter or a newbie at dieting—you know diets are tough to “stay on”.

Lack of willpower or personal shortcoming is often sighted as the reason people can’t follow a diet. I believe that lack of willpower is not the reason for diet failure, but the diet itself.  There is little to no evidence that shows dieting works to reduce body weight (and keep it off) in large sample sizes of people.  Most studies indicate that dieting works for a while, but isn’t a long-term solution.

If you have been on several diets this may sound familiar: You are able to follow a diet for a few weeks or months, then you get side-tracked and go “off” the diet and then re-gain lost weight.

There are so many bad things about dieting, beside dieting’s ineffectiveness, I don’t know where to begin. But, here are just a few of my gripes about dieting:Continue reading

Your Brain on a Diet

In my last post, New Year’s Resolution: Ditch the Diet, I explained that dieting is ineffective form of weight regulation for most people, is a risk factor for developing an eating disorder and can wreak havoc on our self-esteem.

In this post I am excited to share Dr. Sandra Aamodt’s TEDS talk-the neuroscience behind why dieting doesn’t work.

Dr. Sandra Aamodt, a neuroscientist, explains how our brains regulate our body weight like a thermostat which makes dieting an ineffective way to lose weight.

Dr. Aamodt’s talk starts out a little dry and slow, but hang in there.  She offers compelling research on how to improve your health regardless of body weight, throws in humor and her personal experience with dieting.  Which had me laughing and crying by the end.

It is definitely worth 12 or so minutes of your time.

New Year’s Resolution: Ditch the Diet

New Year's ResolutionYes, that is right.  Set a New Year’s Resolution NOT DIET in 2015 (or really ever again).

Why you ask?  I will give you five good reasons:

1.  Dieting doesn’t work for long-term weight regulation.  Scientists don’t have any good data that shows dieting works consistently in reducing weight, long-term, in populations of people.

2. Dieting can lead to weight gain.  Dieting can produce short-term weight loss, but more often than not, it leads to regaining of lost weight and sometimes even more.  Some clinicians argue that the losing/gaining weight cycle (sometimes referred to as weight cycling) is what causes health problems in overweight and obese individuals (Versus elevated body weight.).

3.  Dieting is a known risk factor for developing an eating disorder.  The causes of eating disorders are very complex and researchers have identified several risk factors for developing an eating disorder which include dieting, temperament, gender, etc.  Not to say that all people who diet will develop an eating disorder, but it may increase your risk.

4.  Dieting can make us feel a little crazy.  At the start of a diet there is promise that the diet will bring control over eating (and sometimes our lives).  But, ever notice when you are dieting that you spend more time thinking about food?  Or that when your dieting you begin to feel very uncomfortable around food?  Maybe you avoid certain social situations because you are dieting.  I would argue that dieting leads to more preoccupation with food, weight/shape which leaves less head space to think about other things.

Additionally, when we aren’t able to follow our diet (Not because of laziness or lack of will power by the way, see 1#.) it can lead to an increase in feelings of shame and failure. These feelings can often drive us further from self-care and in some people it can lead to OVEREATING.

To learn more about the psychological effects of food restriction click here.

5.  Dieting doesn’t equal improved health. See #1, #2, #3, #4

In my next few posts I will discuss further reasons why dieting doesn’t work and what one might do as an alternative to dieting.