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All of these are early signs, none of them alone mean much, you may see any combination of them. Most of these comments and behaviours can seem innocent, teenage behaviour. Mostly though they are out of character for your child. They will be a departure from their normal personality and family routines. Watch, ask, challenge. Don’t let any of these go unnoticed or uncommented about. Keep watching, keep asking, keep challenging.

If you do, if you have any suspicion at all, bring your child to the doctor and insist, insist and keep insisting.

early signs of an eating disorderThings they say

I just want to eat healthier
I want to be a vegetarian
My stomach hurts
I am not hungry
I already ate
I think I am allergic to….
(foods they never had an issue before or diagnosed allergy)
I don’t eat this
This is not organic or gmo
I just don’t like this any more
I am so sick
What’s in this food (nutrients)

Things they do

Disappearing after meals
Checking out the nutrition labels
Increased exercise
Pushing food around plate
Cutting food in tiny pieces
Chewing food forever
Stop making plans with friends
Taking forever to make it to the table for meals
Frequent showers (especially after meals)
Spending forever in the bathroom after shower – body checking
Sleeping at meals time
Watching cooking shows, reading cook books none stop
Cooking/baking obsessively without eating it
Going to the grocery store and reading all labels
Buying expensive foods that go uneaten
Frequent body stretching and movement
Wearing baggy clothing (despite temperature)
Refusing to go out with friends if meals are involved
Writing calorie/meal/fitness journals
Taking a lot of body checking selfies
Picking fights at meals so they can be sent to room, or storm out
Eating only low calorie foods
Spitting food into napkins
Having to exercise even when injured or sick
Spitting food into napkins
Having to exercise even when injured or sick
Notice the calories in everything
Dissect the ingredients of a meal
Interested in high metabolism foods
Lots of gum chewing
Taking ice baths
Very emotional response if any of the above is mentioned
Skin picking

Things you can observe

Over dressed in summer, under dressed in winter
Blood shot eyes after meals
Social withdrawal
Unnatural seating positions
Constant foul mood especially at meal times
Weight decrease – A child should never ever lose weight
Anxious, distracted, avoidant behaviour at school
If pets, notice if the dog/cat is seating closer to your child
Cats will gravitate to someone with an illness
Dogs will gravitate for food being dropped
Increased perfectionism, rigidity, ritualistic behaviour
Increase in anxiety, depression, OCD if these are already part of your child’s character
Cold hands and feet
Bad breath or personal smell
Small sores on body which take a long time to heal and can bruise easy
Blue finger nails
Obsessive body checking
Thinning and failing hair
Soft down on skin particularly chest, neck and upper back
Loss of menstruation
Panic attacks out of nowhere
Weight gain despite exercise due to B/P or binging
House plumbing issues from: purged food, hair lumps.

With thanks to The Dirty Laundry Project with additions from me.

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What if you gain weight from all of this? You’ve already gained weight since last summer. What if it all goes straight to your expanding hips and thighs? What’s wrong with you? Did you really need to eat the whole plate? You know, you look pregnant, right?eating and food guilt

While I can’t control these automatic thoughts, I can remind myself that they’re definitely mistaken. I can remind myself of the truth.

If you’ve recently had the same kinds of demoralizing, irritating thoughts, here are a few reminders:

  • You have permission to eat whatever you want. The only rule, if there is a rule, is simply that you savor and enjoy what you’re having.
  • Normal eating is flexible.
  • You have permission to reach for seconds, if you like, or to stop after one helping. It’s totally up to you, your cravings, your hunger and satiety signals.
  • You aren’t naughty, bad, stupid, disgusting, an idiot or ______ for eating certain foods or for having more of certain foods. These are the words of the 60 billion-dollar diet industry (and many women’s and “health” publications). Unfortunately, they’ve become engrained in our vernacular. Which is understandable, because, sadly, such statements, seem to be everywhere. But they’re false (and manipulative).
  • Whatever you’re feeling is OK. Sometimes, we have a tendency to berate ourselves for feeling guilt or shame or discomfort. Why can’t these feelings just go away? Shouldn’t I be over this by now? But those automatic thoughts and feelings — yep, the negative ones — are OK. These may be deeply held beliefs. So try not to judge yourself for having them. Acknowledge how you’re feeling, and try to feel those feelings. Again, whatever you’re feeling is valid.
  • The guilt we feel is really more of a habit than the truth. Those are the words of Susan Schulherr, who told me a few years ago:

“…Feeling guilty about high-calorie foods, or fats or sweets, is a habituated response…the habituated thought is going to come up whether we like it or not. So the trick is to recognize it for what it is: a habit, not a truth.”

“As I say to my clients, you may not be able to stop the thought  or related feelings from popping up spontaneously, but you don’t have to set out the tea service and invite them to stay. Once we recognize we’re in the guilty feelings, the step toward change is to interrupt them rather than to let them romp at will in our psyches.”

“If guilt pops up when you’re trying to enjoy [food] in peace, you need to take that step back and respond with your own version of ‘Oh, of course, there’s that guilt stuff again. It makes me feel like I’m being bad, but I’m actually not.’”

  •  I also really like these other phrases from Susan: “I don’t have to earn the right to enjoy what I eat.” “What I eat has nothing to do with being good or worthy.”
  • Try to meet yourself — and those negative thoughts and feelings — with compassion. Talk to yourself in a kind way. Try to act in kind ways.

When guilty feelings and negative thoughts arise, try to remind yourself that you haven’t done anything wrong. Remind yourself that you are still worthy.

You are worthy whether you reach for a second helping or not. You are worthy whether you eat an apple or a piece of apple pie.

You are worthy whether you have these feelings or not.

 

From Weightless Blog

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Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should.

Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.

Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good.

Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.

Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.

Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.

See more at: http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/hte/whatisnormaleating.php

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Hidden anger can manifest itself in any number of ways, many of which may surprise you:

Procrastination in the completion of tasks, especially ones you don’t like or want to do. What do you put off? Work deadlines? Phone calls? Laundry? Grocery shopping? Car maintenance? Going to the doctor? Paying the bills?

Habitual lateness. Are you late everywhere you go, or are there patterns to it? Always late to work, but early for engagements with family and friends? Or is it just the opposite?

Sarcasm, cynicism, or flippancy. Within what context do you typically make sarcastic, cynical, or flippant remarks? Is it only with certain people, or only within a certain context? In other words, is your hidden anger tied to a certain person, in terms of what they bring out in you, or is it more general, tied more to how you feel in specific situations as opposed to who you are with?

Overpoliteness, constant cheerfulness (fake), attitude of “grin and bear it” but internally resenting it. As with sarcasm, cynicism, or flippancy, is your overpoliteness or constant cheerfulness tied to a particular person or is it dependent on the circumstances you are in.

Frequent sighing. You may not even realize you are doing this, so make a note to be mindful of how frequently you sigh, and within what context. Again, is it usually around a certain person, or is more specific to an activity (i.e., work task), thought (i.e., all your to-do’s), or situation (i.e., dealing with a conflict at work or home).

Smiling while hurting. As with frequency sighing, this may not be something you are particularly aware of. Next time you notice yourself smiling though, check in with your head and heart. Does your expression match what you’re thinking and feeling inside?

Overcontrolled monotone speaking voice. This is not only a means of hiding anger, but subsequently any number of other feelings that are not allowed to expression. In other words, masking a negative feeling – such as anger – inevitably trains you to mask positive feelings as well, like surprise, excitement, and joy.

Frequent disturbing or frightening dreams. The keyword here is frequent. We all have bad dreams and nightmares now and then. But if they are persistent and you wake feel scared and un-rested, anger could be at the root.

Difficulty in getting to sleep or staying asleep. Thoughts going around in your head keep you awake. This is a pretty common symptom of any number of underlying mental, emotional, or physical issues. So as a symptom of hidden anger, it should probably only be considered so if other symptoms of hidden anger are present.

Boredom, apathy, loss of interest in things you are usually enthusiastic about (depression from internalized anger). Though it may seem just the opposite of hidden anger underneath, in fact, boredom, apathy and a loss of interest in things may your body’s means of dealing with these negative feelings in the only way it knows how – by numbing them. Rather than feel anger, it seems preferable to feel nothing at all.

Slowing down of movements, especially when doing things you don’t want to do. This is another form of procrastination. Instead of tackling a task with enthusiasm and the intent of finishing it, you may subconsciously (or even consciously) slow down a task that you resent doing in the first place – from folding the laundry at home to drafting an email at work.

Getting tired more easily than usual. Again, this can be a symptom of any number of underlying issues, so it is to be taken into consideration only within the context of other symptoms of hidden anger.

Excessive irritability over trifles. Road rage is a perfect example. Granted, there are times when other people’s driving habits can be dangerous and warrant a strong reaction. But when you “lose it” on the guy in front of you for missing the light or forgetting to turn on his blinker, the anger you’re feeling was already there, just waiting for an opportunity to erupt. The same is true of other minor incidents throughout any given day, from spilling your coffee to having trouble with your internet connection.

Facial tics, spasmodic foot movements, habitual fist clenching, and similar repeated physical acts done unintentionally. Again, these are things you may or may not even be aware of. As with all the other symptoms of hidden anger on this list, simply be open to noticing their presence, and mindful of when they occur.

If any of these ring true for you, understand these are not behaviors to be cursed or vilified. Instead, consider them welcome warning signs that anger may be hiding in plain sight. The key is getting to the root of where the anger stems from, which may or may not relate to a specific event. In fact, your anger is most likely tied to beliefs and relationships that span your lifetime.

 

Turning Your Down Into Up: A Realistic Plan For Healing From Depression by Dr. Gregory Jantz

http://www.aplaceofhope.com/blog/depression/turning-your-down-into-up-the-root-of-hidden-anger-book-excerpt?inf_contact_key=7f6eb4564f21a72aa22d4ab5f820c6f1ca80c386808e72f9c270aa5b396ba1df

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This letter from the yourfairyangel blog is one of the most beautiful I have ever read. Everyone in the weight-loss and diet industry should read this and reflect seriously on their own behaviour and ethics. The letter made me cry, for those who got harmed, for the honesty of the woman behind it, for a world that is still caught so tightly by diets and thing thin, for the never ending cycle dieting.

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Stop DietingI worked at a popular weight loss company for 3 years. I loved my job there. I LOVED my clients. I loved making a connection and sharing my knowledge. And I learned a lot about nutrition, about dieting and weight loss and what works and what doesn’t. My job was to be a weight loss consultant, and I learned that job very well. I can design a 1200 calorie meal plan, tell you which activities are most likely to make the number on the scale go down, and how many carbs are in a cup of rice. I can talk the diet game like it’s my business…because it was. Volumize with vegetables. Don’t go too long in between meals. Start with a bowl of broth-based soup. Are you drinking enough water? Did you exercise enough? Did you exercise too much? Let’s look at your food journal…

This is not an anti-weight loss company post (although I could write that too). It’s a letter to each and every woman that I unknowingly wronged. My heart is beating a little bit faster as I write this, and so I know this needs to be said. The words have been playing in my head for months. Sometimes it just takes time for me to get up the courage to say the right thing.

So here goes:

Dear Former Weight Loss Clients (you know who you are): 

I’m sorry. 

I’m sorry because I put you on a 1200 calorie diet and told you that was healthy. I’m sorry because when you were running 5x a week, I encouraged you to switch from a 1200 calorie diet to a 1500 calorie diet, instead of telling you that you should be eating a hell of a lot more than that. I’m sorry because you were breastfeeding and there’s no way eating those 1700 calories a day could have been enough for both you and your baby. I’m sorry because you were gluten intolerant and so desperate to lose weight that you didn’t put that on your intake form. But you mentioned it to me later, and I had no idea the damage you were doing to your body. I’m sorry because I think I should have known. I think I should have been educated better before I began to tell all of you what was right or wrong for your body. 

I’m sorry because I made you feel like a failure and so you deliberately left a message after the center had closed, telling me you were quitting. I thought you were awesome and gorgeous, and I’m sorry because I never told you that. I’m sorry because you came in telling me you liked to eat organic and weren’t sure about all the chemicals in the food, and I made up some BS about how it was a “stepping stone.” I’m sorry because many of you had thyroid issues and the LAST thing you should have been doing was eating a gluten-filled, chemically-laden starvation diet. I’m sorry because by the time I stopped working there, I wouldn’t touch that food, yet I still sold it to you. 

I’m sorry because it’s only years later that I realize just how unhealthy a 1200 calorie diet was. I stayed on a 1200-1500 calorie diet for years, so I have the proof in myself. Thyroid issues, mood swings, depression, headaches…oh and gluten intolerance that seemed to “kick in” after about a month of eating the pre-packaged food. Was it a coincidence? Maybe. 

I’m sorry because you had body dysmorphic disorder, and it was so painful to hear the things you said about yourself. You looked like a model, and all of my other clients were intimidated by you, asked me why you were there because clearly you didn’t need to lose weight. And yet you would sit in my office and cry, appalled that a man might see you naked and be disturbed by the fat that didn’t actually exist. I’m sorry because you should have been seeing a therapist, not a weight loss consultant. 

I’m sorry because you were young and so beautiful and only there because your mother thought you needed to lose weight. And because there were too many of you like that. Girls who knew you were fine, but whose mothers pushed that belief out of you until you thought like she did. Until you thought there was something wrong with you. And the one time I confronted your mother, you simply got switched to a different consultant. I think I should have made more of a stink, but I didn’t. I’m sorry because you were in high school and an athlete, and I pray that you weren’t screwed up by that 1500 calorie diet. Seriously, world? Seriously? A teenage girl walks in with no visible body fat and lots of muscle tone, tells you she’s a runner and is happy with her weight…but her mother says she’s fat and has to lose weight and so we help her do just that. As an individual, as women, as a company, hell, as a nation, we don’t stand up for that girl? What is wrong with us? There ain’t nothing right about that. Nothing. 

I’m sorry because every time you ate something you “shouldn’t” or ate more than you “should,” I talked about “getting back on the bandwagon.” I cringe now every time someone uses that phrase. When did the way we eat become a bandwagon? When did everyone stop eating and become professional dieters? I’m sorry because I get it now. If you’re trying to starve your body by eating fewer calories than it needs, of course it’s going to fight back. I used to tell you that then, when you wanted to eat less than 1200 calories a day. The problem was, I thought 1200 was enough. I thought that was plenty to support a healthy body. Why did I believe that for so long? I’m sorry because I wasn’t trying to trick you or play games to get your money. I believed the lies we were fed as much as you did. 

And it wasn’t just the company feeding them to me. It was the doctors and registered dietitians on the medical advisory board. It was the media and magazines confirming what I was telling my clients. A palm-sized portion of lean chicken with half a sweet potato and a salad was PLENTY. No matter that you had “cravings” afterward. Cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Yeah, sure they are. I’m a hypnotherapist with a past history of binge eating disorder. I KNOW cravings are a sign of underlying emotional issues. Except when they’re not. Except when they’re a sign that your body needs more food and you’re ignoring it. Then they’re a sign that your 1200 calorie diet is horseshit. Then they’re a sign that you’ve been played. 

And that’s mostly why I’m sorry. Because I’ve been played for years, and so have you, and inadvertently, I fed into the lies you’ve been told your whole life. The lies that say that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin. The lies that say that you are never enough, that your body is not a beautiful work of art, but rather a piece of clay to be molded by society’s norms until it becomes a certain type of sculpture. And even then, it is still a work in progress. 

I owe you an apology, my former client and now friend, who I helped to lose too much weight. Who I watched gain the weight back, plus some. Because that’s what happens when you put someone on a 1200 calorie diet. But I didn’t know. If you’re reading this, then I want you to know that you have always been beautiful. And that all these fad diets are crap meant to screw with your metabolism so that you have to keep buying into them. I think now that I was a really good weight loss consultant. Because I did exactly what the company wanted (but would never dare say). I helped you lose weight and then gain it back, so that you thought we were the solution and you were the failure. You became a repeat client and we kept you in the game. I guess I did my job really well.  

And now I wonder, did I do more harm than good? When I left, you all wrote me cards and sent me flowers. I still have those cards, the ones that tell me how much I helped you, how much I cared. But I’m friends with some of you on Facebook now, and I look at your photos and you look happy. And beautiful. And not because you lost weight since I saw you last. But because I see YOU now. You. Not a client sitting in my chair, asking for my assistance in becoming what society wants. But you, a smart and lovely woman, who really doesn’t need some random company telling her there’s something wrong with her. 
  
So I’m sorry because when you walked in to get your meal plan, I should have told you that you were beautiful. I should have asked you how you FELT. Were you happy? Did you feel physically fit? Were you able to play with your kids? There were so many of you who never needed to lose a pound, and some of you who could have gained some. And maybe sometimes I told you that. But not enough. Not emphatically. Because it was my job to let you believe that making the scale go down was your top priority. And I did my job well.  

I am sorry because many of you walked in healthy and walked out with disordered eating, disordered body image, and the feeling that you were a “failure.” None of you ever failed. Ever. I failed you. The weight loss company failed you. Our society is failing you. 

Just eat food. Eat real food, be active, and live your life. Forget all the diet and weight loss nonsense. It’s really just that. Nonsense. 

And I can’t stop it. But I can stop my part in it. I won’t play the weight loss game anymore. I won’t do it to my body, and I won’t help you do it to yours. That’s it. End game.  

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but i swear that after this week I will pay anyone to take her. Just kidding but it has been a swinging week. I am thinking that if she remains at home next year instead of finding full time work or a uni course away from home, we will both combust. Sigh, and then when she is gone I will worry every day that she is not eating right (because I know she won’t be) and when to expect her home because she is too sick.

Science is no longer the new life saving degree. Really? So.not.surprised. Sophie not only throws out the baby with the bath water, but also the sponge, soap and the actual bath. All gone. She is after black and white, all or nothing. Today was the day she did all her uni submissions. Am wondering if anyone else has put in submission to VTAC, UAC and QTAC for a total of 16 courses. Am pleased at least the are no submissions for the state of WA.

So of course her mood is all over the place. Others would say ‘I am stressed with doing my trials and deciding my uni entries’. Sophie says ‘I won’t eat eggs again, as they add to my iron levels’, or decide to tell me what I can and can’t buy at the supermarket. No ice cream this week (it’s bad for me) or only low-fat yoghurt (cause I am choosing my own yoghurts). Try to point out the illogic of this or that the ED is stronger than she thinks, and clearly I am lying.

Her counselling appt I think went fine but instead of close appointments that her counsellor wanted, it is now monthly. How can you talk about the issues if it is only monthly!!! I thought they were going to talk about the issues and actually work towards something (BIG SIGH). She told her psychiatrist last week the anorexia was only present about 2/10 in her thinking. BS. We both know that you can add at least 3 points to that and then you are getting closer to reality.

So tonight am chilling out with biscuits, cheese and wine. Anything to block the week and hope the weekend might be better. Cheers!

 

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Eating disorder recovery, particularly anorexia, demands rules, routine and regular eating times, 6 times a day. As you continue to grow stronger, flexibility and normal eating patterns begin to be introduced. This all works if you are in a place where you can continue to do this. But once you have to go back to uni, work, or other full-time outside employment what happens to your routine.

The work force is a loaded place for eating disorder recovery, it can become a trigger for the eating disorder to sneak back in.

Most of us work 9-5, some jobs don’t allow time for a tea break but only a  lunch break. So how do you cope? By planning ahead. You can’t go into any environment that breaks with your usual routine without planning. 

I know it sounds like your back at preschool, but seriously the ED you had is only waiting for the smallest slip in your armour and out it comes. You begin to eat less, then skip a meal at night because you are too tired. Skipping breakfast cause you now don’t feel hungry. Not eating the right nutrition. And before you know it … losing weight, slipping back down hill. Then come fears, anxieties and wondering what to do to try and halt the ED train.

That brings us back to planning. Know that it is going to be difficult to be out of routine and your usual safe zone. Your mind and body will forget to function or find it all very confusing. Make sure you eat 3 solid meals a day, with plenty of the right nutrition. That is a must and non-negotiable. Fight back against the undercover eating disorder before it comes out. If you are allowed a break before or after lunch, then pack small items to nibble on – nuts, cut up fruit, biscuits, nutrition drink – something that requires little preparation so you have time to eat. Don’t just put your hands up in the air and give up.

Having an eating disorder in your present or past means you can no longer just fall into something different without planning. 

It’s one of the downsides of a mental health illness but no different to anyone with a form of chronic illness. You have to plan ahead or put in barriers to protect yourself so you can live the life you want, without the illness getting in the way.

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