Saturday, February 03, 2007

February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month

Canada, The United Kingdom and The United States use February 2007 to mark Eating Disorder Awarness.

Generally, eating disorders involve self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about body weight and food, and eating habits that disrupts normal body function, and daily life activities.

What causes eating disorders is not entirely clear, though a combination of psychological, genetic, social and family factors are thought to contribute to the disorder.

Types of Eating Disorders

Anorexia Nervosa~ Essentially self-starvation, this disorder involves a refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight. In severe cases, anorexia can be life-threatening.

Bulimia Nervosa ~ This involves repeated episodes of binge eating, followed by ways of trying to purge the food from the body or prevent expected weight gain. People can have this condition and be of normal weight.

Binge-eating Disorder~ This is characterized by frequent episodes of overeating without purging.

Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) ~ A range of other disordered eating patterns don’t fit into the other types of eating disorders. These eating patterns are still serious, and intervention and attention are necessary. EDNOS include:

*Eating problems with some, but not all, of the characteristics of a full-fledged eating disorder; for example, people who severely restrict food intake, but who do not meet the full criteria for anorexia nervosa

*Chewing food and spitting it out (without swallowing)

*Bingeing and purging irregularly, such as at times of increased stress

Left unattended, eating disorders can lead to serious health problems or even death. Sadly, one of my blogger friends just died from Anorexia.


The National Eating Disorder Information Centre: Canada

Eating Disorders Association: United Kingdom

The National Eating Disorders Association: United States


Fallen Angels said...

I think we may fall under EDNOS... have never been told so, but I definitely recognize that we don't always eat the way other people do. Some of this is due to DID issues...some is not. I think I may post about this soon.

I am very sorry to hear about your blog is terrible news.


Nancy said...

Eating Disorders are a terrible disease or condition. When my son was 13 his pediatrician told him he was "getting a bit chunky". I almost fell off the chair, but I did not say anything. I noticed my son's eating habits change immediately. I always bought healthy food with the exception of Gatorade, after the chubby comment, he was now skipping meals and not drinking the Gatorade. AT his next visit (6 months later for an asthma episode) he had lost about 12 lbs and grew 4 inches. The same doctor told him he was concerned about his weight loss. I call the doc that afternoon and let him have it. I told him he was the one who called my son "chubby" and he had better watch what he says to sensitive teens. He apologized and did not realize how his mere words were taken by some kids. His excuse was "he is concerned about childhood Obesity".
I ask him if it would be a better idea to talk to the parent and ask them to take the "junk" out of the house, then the child can not have access to the problem food. The doctor thanked me months later and told me he has since re-thought his approach.
My son took the doc advice and returned to his normal eating habits.
I feel that any eating disorder is a family problem and it takes professional help for all to get through the deprogramming or reprogramming process.
this is just my experience but I thought it could of been a life long problem if I did not keep on top of it.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Fallen,
I also EDNOS.I just learned that my blog-pal died....her heart gave out. Her partner updated her blog- friends and then deleted her partner's blog. I was so sad to learn that she lost her struggle with Anorexia.

Dear Nancy,
What a knucklehead. I've heard stories like that happen. Good for you to "inform" the doctor.


Beth said...

I once worked with someone who had an eating disorder. She thought she hid it very well, but looking back it was fairly obvious. She obsessed over what she ate and dieting was all she ever talked about.

when I lose weight, the first place it goes from is my face, so I tend to look very gaunt. I'd been unwell and as a result lost around 10lbs. She came over to my desk and went "Oh my god, you look really gaunt. You've done so well to lose your christmas weight."

It seems that to her, gaunt was a desirable state, and I wasn't even aware that I had christmas weight to lose! That was when I realised she had a problem.

I consider myself to have a pretty healthy attitude towards food, although lately I have found myself worrying more about my appearance. I bought a copy of Vogure recently and as I flipped through the pages ran the gamut of emotions - Envy of the skinny models, disgust at how skinny they were, contempt for the industry that promotes that image and sadness for those it affects.

I'm sad to say I don't think the media image of the size 00s will go away for a very long time. Until it does, the battle with these disorders will be much harder.

Am very sorry to hear about your friend Deb, you're in my thoughts.

dawn said...

i started severely restricting food after my mom kept "reminding" me that she was never as big as i was at that age(i think i was around 12-14). I wouldn't eat for days then would eat like crazy for days sometimes purging if necesary.this repeated itself over and over again for many years and it sucked.

when i read about her loss i was so shocked. i had to read it 3 times. i still can't believe it. I'm sorry.

IdgyEdgy said...

So sorry to hear of your blog friend's death from anorexia. It is an insidious disease that can be so hard to understand and treat.

We were diagnosed with anorexia in high school. We could go days without eating anything and we got very good at hiding it (or so we thought!). We never saw how thin we were getting--all we saw was FAT FAT FAT! Recently, a 17-year-old alter stepped forward and took responsibility for the eating disorder. It was her way of trying to find some semblance of control in a totally out of control life.

We now have to be very careful. Many medications we have tried for depression cause an extreme weight loss for us (don't most antidepressants cause weight gain?) which can easily lead to the cycle beginning again. We avoid these types of medications now (besides, they have VERY adverse effects on many of the younger alters).

Thank you for bringing awareness to this subject, which seems to only get recognition when a famous person is struggling with it. We're thankful for that attention too, but the statistics are too high to ignore.


astrorat said...

i strongly believe that social factors have an huge impact on how people come to live with eating disorders.

I would like to read about how i could assist/help someone with an eating disorder :)

Heidi said...

Deb, I am so sorry to hear about your friend. Hugs~

Hmm..I'm trying to think why I have issues with eating, body image, etc..Could it be I had a Uncle who called me " Porky" when I was very young. Started dieting under 10. Had this guy in HS tell me I had a fat ass. Too many more to mention.

Having just getting braces as u know Deb doesn't help the way I feel about my appearance...Just makes me feel worse. Food=Comfort and I can't even stuff my face with my favs bcause of the friggen braces! ugh.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Beth,
The blogger I'm talking about visited here often. She struggled with eating and weight for a long time. I was speechless when I found out she died. I think the media has much to do with weight issues, and society and culture as well. I love cultures that embrace beauty in all sizes. Food is an issue for many people, and it is sad that it leads to poor body image, etc. I just watched "The Devil Wear Prada". I think there was a line in it that went like this: "Six is the new fourteen." Saying that even a size 6 was too big! Sheesh. You are a gorgeous lady, and I am hope you don't fall into the "00" ideology.

Dear Dawn,
Family criticism does cast a long shadow on how we feel about ourselves. So sad that you mom said that to you. YOu are so beautiful....I wonder if she can really appreciate that about you. Sometimes discovering where our inner voices and inner thoughts come from enables us to change their influence.

Dear Idgy (Grace),
Medications can have different effects on those who take it. My depression meds cause weight gain for me....but for some, prozac causes weight loss! It is so wise of you to be aware how the weight loss and medication can spiral you into old habits. You should be so proud that your alter can take care and keep the illness at bay.

Dear Astro,
Yes, society, culture and media seem to be the origins. I think you'd be great at facilitating treatment with ED. I bet you'll find many research based articles online!

Dear Heidi,
Uh.....terrible that your Uncle said that. If I recall, you also mentioned other family members who voiced thoughts like that. And kids in school can be so cruel. Finding your own confidence is important. You are a beautiful person and have such a generous spirit. BTW, I was at the orthodonit's office and there were three adults getting braces that day. I thought of you and high-fived one of the ladies.


Alison said...

Deborah, I read just recently a shocking article about deaths of Brazilian models due to eating disorders. Yes, it's a terrible thing. Again, I'm left wondering - Why is it that not eating enough (as in anorexia etc) and it's opposite - obesity- exist at the same time with such damning effects? What is our problem with food?

Id it is said...

Though I'm not over weight, I do tend to binge on snack food especially when I'm under stress; I didn't know that would be termed a disorder. Can that be fixed?

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Alison,
Another model just died here in the states due to anorexia. I agree with you, what is IT with the spectrum of illness/disorder with eating. A question for the ages, I presume.

Dear Id,
If you exhibit symptoms does not mean you have a disorder. If you binge under stress and it does not effect your health etc, it may just be a coping technique. Not a full blown disorder.


_Jonathan_ said...

Hello there!!
nice post.
It's really hard to face eating disorders. I has a close friend with anorexia and it's very difficult to get over it.
Good bye

wolfbaby said...

EAting disorders are difficult to manage.. I have never been dx with one but I know I need to balance a littl better. I tend to bing then restrict without even realizing I'm doing it, not a good thing. Sorry bout your friend. Take care

Godwhacker said...

I love the graphic. It says so much with so little.

Ian Lidster said...

From my addictions studies I find that eating disorders often follow the same pathology as such behaviors as alcoholism, in that there is often denial, often diminshed self-esteem, family disruption, and yes, certainly the bingeing and loss of self-control. I suppose the advantage the recovering alcoholic has is that he/she can stay away from the substance completely and enjoy a fulfilling life. The person with the eating disorder cannot avoid food. So, in a way, this would be like an alcoholic who had to restrict himself to a single beer daily. It would be agonizing because the temptation would be so profound to keep going.
Much food(sorry, no pun intended) for thought in this piece,Deb.
Cheers, Ian

Donna said...

Sorry about your blog friend :(

Having been there, done that with anorexia...what gets me is the pro-ana and pro-mia websites. It's just sick.

HeiressChild said...

this is an excellent article dr. deb. weight has been an area of struggle for me. growing up i was so skinny, like the old twiggy, and was ridiculed much. after my 2nd child, i had tremendous weight gain, and i still struggle with my weight.

i just changed my dr last month because he would harp on my "being overweight." even when i lost 5-1/2 lbs, he didn't compliment me, but continued to berate me about being overweight. the thing is, so was he. i think that's a form of abuse also, so i got another dr. that's how people get self-esteem issues, and then the eating disorders follow. unfortunately, society does have a huge impact in this area.


HP said...

Very sad to hear about your blogger friend, Deborah. Here, a major story in the news recently has been the lack of inpatient facilities for people with eating disorders.

Ms.L said...

I've always said "I'm an unsuccessful anorexic or bulemic"sp? as a half joke/half self defense mechanism,because I was obessed with my weight but didn't have the same outcome or symptoms or do the same things like people with those disorders,I was just fat.
I could see the similarities but didn't have a name to put to what I was experiencing because they weren't exactly the same.
I can see now exactly what my problem was and appreciate this post! A lot of people only think of the first two and may not know(like me) that they have a problem.
Somehow(I swear I have horseshoes attached to me) when I ended a toxic relationship with my mother,things became very clear to me and I was able to grab a hold of myself,change my thinking completely and am now healthy in that regard. I kindof feel like an addict though..I have to be careful about it every day,so I don't slip down that slope but so far,so good:)
I'm very sorry about your friend:(

Wanda's Wings said...

Are eating disorders very command with PTSD? I have had an eating disorder and so did my son as a teenager. Maybe there is the family connection thing. Thanks for the info.

Dreaming again said...

Interesting timing of your post.

Official diagnosis for me is ED NOS.

Ian's comparrison to other addictions is interesting. I'd relapsed to a degree (enough for my lab work to mess up, and my endocrinologist to become alarmed) and I was trying to come up with an anaology for my psychiatrist of how far I'd relapsed.

I told him, if I was an alcoholic, I'd be in the bar everynight, and taking home bottles ...but I'm not to the point of hiding the liquor everywhere ... (not back to pills, purging etc)

His response was for me to at least rest, stop digging a self destructive hole. Then I come and read this post.

Like I said, interesting timing. Sorry about your blog friend Deb.

jumpinginpuddles said...

interestingly and recently a close friend of ours told us we were heavy and needed to diet, little does this person know that many years ago we did diet so much so we were very ill, sometimes people dont think before they speak and like fallen we might blog about this subject also from that perspective.
Sorry about your friend.

CrackerLilo said...

I am so, so, so sorry about your friend.

L'Ailee sees possible eating disorders a *lot* at her gym. It's so hard for her to try and help without losing them altogether--if they leave or get kicked out, they'll just find another gym.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Jonathan,
Hola amigo. It is so hard to see someone close to you in the throes of an eating disorder.

Dear Wolfbaby,
I think many of us have issues with food. Some are just quirky traits and behaviors, while others can be serious.

Dear Godwhacker,
That graphic was such a great google find!

Dear Ian,
The pun is appropos!

Dear Donna,
I KNOW. those sites are UNNERVING to say the least.

Dear Heiress,
What a great comment. I think you are SO right about that.

Dear HP,
I was stunned to learn of her death. She was a young girl who visited here often. My heart aches for her partner and her family. Lack of inpatient care is troubling. Upsetting to learn of this happening by you.

Dear Ms. L.
I love what you wrote. And I am so happy to have read that you try to keep an eye on things so additional stress doesn't press too heavily on you. I think approaching life that way is very healthy.

Dear Wanda,
Sure, there can be a co-existing eating disorder with PTSD.

Dear Dreaming,
:::Shakes head::::
Why is it that some people in the helping profession don't GET things? I think it is so easy for others to give stupid advice because the "issue at hand" is something with which they have no understanding. EDNOS is an addiction. Your analogy made great sense to me. Try to take things a day at a time. Food is a necessity in life, and that is why eating disorders are so difficult to manage.

Dear JIP,
How terrible that someone would say such a thing. I've been told the same, and often respond with anger or lightening wit. But it hurts nonetheless. And you're right, some people don't think before they speak.

Dear Cracker,
You know, it must be a commn thing for her to see at the gym.Sounds like she really tries, which is wonderful.


PalmTreeChick said...

Yeah, L.'s death hit us all pretty hard, even though I didn't know her I was pretty upset by it. I have several friends suffering pretty badly with their eds and it's really stressing me out because there's nothing I can do to help them. It drives me insane yet I have not thoughts of even changing any of my behaviors, but then again, I'm not bad.

Esperanza Molinar said...

Hey Dr. Deb,
I have never posted on your website before but I read it all the time. I am in recovery from MIA. NOt there yet....step at a time. Thank you for posting the ED info on your website. February is always a tough month for those of us with EDs...although we try to ignore it. It is probably one of the most poorly understood, researched,poorley funded and poorley treated conditions. It is great when a professional, like yourself, knows so much about EDs. Thank you so much for representing us in the health community. I am from a very small Canadian town where EDs are NEVER talked about and there are no services for IP in my province. I have found support in the help of a wonderful psychologist,but perhaps more importantly (or equally important anyways) I have found support in this online community. The women and men in this community work as a support group. We check in almost everyday and we help each other through tough times. It has been growing organically for a while now and I feel lucky and honored to be a part of it....although sometimes it is tough like when we lost Leah. The information you supply and your opinons and support are a part of this community. Way to recognize ED month!!



Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Palmtree,
I still feel shocked that Leah is gone. I will miss her. It is hard to see others in the throes of their EDs.

Dear Esperanza,
I am so touched that you left a comment today. I think it is so hard to deal with ED since food is vital to our preservation. I am really glad that you have a good psychologist and a wonderful support network. One day at a time. One step at a time. Keep on goin!

BTW, I love your name....doesn't it mean "hope" in english?

Please visit again.

Sarah said...

Thanks for this Dr. Serani. My 22 year old Foster-Sister is currently dying from Anorexia. She has been sick since age 12, been in every big-name hosptial and psych ward in the USA and refuses to get well. She is on my mind a lot, and I feel very heavy about this as a psychology student.

Btw.. I just added your link to my new site. New site is password-protected, but would love to see you on board!

healthybpm said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. It's just terrible what can happen if you listen to your mind.