Anorexia & Bulimia – Eating Disorders

Treating Eating Disorders

Posted by on Jun 6, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders, Binge Eating - Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder - Members | 0 comments

Eating disorders are a classification of conditions in which the individual suffers from an unhealthy obsession with food, exercise and weight loss, often as a result of self esteem or poor body image. Eating disorders are highly dangerous, and can be life threatening in extreme cases. It is important for individuals suffering from eating disorders to get proper treatment as soon as possible.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are a variety of types of eating disorders, and many that most people don’t realize are disorders. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the two most common eating disorders. People suffering from anorexia typically have a complete refusal to eat, while those with bulimia go through stages of starving themselves, to binging and purging. An additional type of anorexia is called anorexia athletica, where the individual is obsessed with excessive exercising in order to lose weight, and may occasionally be combined with other eating disorders.

Binge eating is another type of eating disorder, in which the individual eats a large amount of food in a very short amount of time, for two or more times a week. Overeating is the eating disorder defined as someone who feels out of control, and constantly eats more than they need to, specifically far past the point of being full. Night eating is a fairly new eating disorder, which is characterized by someone who regularly eats large amounts of food, primarily at night, and is linked to obesity.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

The signs and symptoms of eating disorders vary based on the type of eating disorder. Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include a refusal to eat or denial of being hungry, a fear of gaining weight, negative self image and low self esteem, exercising excessively, a lack of emotion, constant irritability, fear of eating in front of others, social withdrawal, thin appearance to the point of looking ill, dehydration, irregular heart rhythms, and abdominal pain.

Signs of bulimia include the most obvious which are binge eating and self-induced vomiting, using laxatives to dispel food, excessive exercising, a distorted body image and low self esteem, feeling out of control when it comes to food, constantly running to the bathroom after eating, damaged teeth, and swollen salivary glands as visible in the cheeks.

Other eating disorders are usually easy to spot as well, as their symptoms are directly related to the disorder. Someone who is binge eating, is often eating very large amounts of food in a short period of time. On the other hand, symptoms of someone suffering from anorexia athletic will exercise obsessively and excessively without slowing down.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

A variety of treatment options are available for those suffering from eating disorders, with treatments ranging from medications to deal with underlying causes of the eating disorders, psychotherapy and counseling, nutrition education, family counseling, and possibly hospitalization. Therapy and counseling is often the first step as it is necessary to stop the cycle of bad eating habits and to get to the root cause of the eating disorder. If someone has serious healthy problems, hospitalization might be required before therapy can begin.

In addition to ongoing counseling, nutrition education is also essential. It is important to educate the individual on proper eating habits, as well as what their healthy weight is, and how to properly care for themselves. Many times, individuals with eating disorders are placed in a treatment facility, until they come to terms with normal, healthy eating and exercise habits. Medications are not used to treat the disorder, rather to help treat causes of the disorder, such as medication for anxiety or depression.

Benefits of Treatment

The benefits of treatment for eating disorders involve treating the adverse side effects of having the disorders, such as heart problems, organ failure, depression, suicidal thoughts, menstruation issues, bone loss, digestive issues, kidney damage, tooth decay, irregular blood pressure, and stunted growth.

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A Survey About anorexia/bulimia. Take our survey – share your story

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

Please answer the following questions. Answer as few or as many questions as you wish.

Remember, there are no ‘right’ or ‘perfect’ answers.

1. How do you understand the problem of anorexia/bulimia?

2. What are the ideas that you have come across about anorexia/bulimia that have been helpful or not helpful to you in your life? Please explain by giving examples.

3. From your experience, in what ways have you found therapy helpful/not helpful?

4. Do you think that there are specific ways the problem of anorexia/bulimia uses to recruit people?

5. Are there certain structures/beliefs of our society that may be viewed as supporting anorexia/bulimia? If so, please describe these pro-anorexic/bulimic structures.

6. In your experience, what is the allure of an anorexic/bulimic lifestyle? Please explain.

7. In your experience, are there any therapeutic practices that you have experienced that you would consider to be pro-anorexic/bulimic? Please explain.

8. Why do you think anorexia/bulimia recruits so many more women that men?

9. What effect does anorexia/bulimia have on relationships (e.g. family, couple, friend)?

10. What effect does anorexia/bulimia have on relationships to professionals?

11. In what ways have you experienced other people standing against anorexia/bulimia? Please explain.

12. Please name the three main pro-anorexic/bulimic activities that you have ever experienced?

13. Please name the three main anti-anorexic/bulimic activities that you have ever experienced?

14. What advice would you give to a person presently being recruited by anorexia/bulimia?

15. What advice would you give to a professional presently working with people who are suffering the effects of anorexia/bulimia?

16. What advice would you give to a family member presently living with a person who is suffering the effects of anorexia/bulimia?

17. Where are the sites of anti-anorexic/bulimic education most needed?

18. What are the most effective ways that anorexia/bulimia finds to manipulate a person?

19. How many people do you think anorexia/bulimia recruited in 1998?

20. How many people do you think anorexia/bulimia will recruit during the year 2000?

21. Are there any anti-anorexic/bulimic activities that might be viewed as responsibilities of our community?

22. Do you think anorexia/bulimia is genetic? Please explain.

23. Do you think anorexia/bulimia will soon be exported to other countries? If yes, please specify how.

24. If you could have a few minutes “face to face” with anorexia/bulimia, what would you like to think you would say?

25. How would it feel to utter these words to anorexia/bulimia/bulimia?

Optional – Your Name:

Optional – Location:

Optional – Your Email:

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Suggested Do’s and Don’ts for Addressing anorexia/bulimia (Solutions)

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments would like to give special thanks to Lorraine Grieves and the Anti-anorexia/bulimia League for their helpful suggestions in this section.

Ten Do’s

  • Examine your attitudes about body shape, dieting and fat prejudice. You may have unknowingly internalized ideas which exacerbate a desire for thinness.
  • Nourish yourself and your relationships with those you care about.
  • Challenge old stories about who you are as a person, daughter, friend, worker etc. that don’t fit with who you believe you are and where your life is going.
  • Be sure that images of successful females are included in school curriculum and other sources – without such images, girls are left with predominant media definitions of thinness as a primary means of success for females.
  • Be aware there are many societal pressures which support the notion that females and, to a lesser degree males, are valued more for how they look then any other quality.
  • Beware of unrealistic standards that are impossible to achieve.
  • Be aware that perfection is an unachievable goal and will always leave you feeling less than.
  • Know that dieting can appear as if it is a good way to “get in control” of one’s life but dieting is never, ever successful and can set the stage for an eating disorder.
  • Make a commitment to educating boys about the various forms of violence against women, including weightism, and their responsibilities for preventing it.
  • Examine the ways in which your beliefs, attitudes and behaviors about your body and the bodies of others have been shaped by the forces of weightism and sexism.

Ten Don’ts

  • Don’t let exercise becoming “torturcize.”
  • Don’t let the ways of dieting and regimented exercise sneak into your life.
  • Don’t put your child on a diet or exercise program.
  • Don’t let your child’s school, your home, cottage, or office become sites for promoting items (posters, books, contests) that endorse the cultural ideal of thinness.
  • Don’t allow discussions regarding food, calories, fatness, shape be dominant in your conversations.
  • Don’t get into thinking about food as “good” or “bad.” Food has no moral value — people are neither good nor bad based on their food choices.
  • Don’t let numbers rule your life — stop counting and measuring calories, fat grams, weight, and stop worrying about your dress, pant size, and breast size, and stop counting how many sit ups/push ups and miles you have walked.
  • Don’t let anorexia/bulimia and bulimia isolate you.
  • Don’t negatively compare yourself.
  • Don’t believe you are anorexia/bulimia and bulimia’s special subject – eating disorders treat everyone with the same brutality.
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A Professional’s View of anorexia/bulimia

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

Anorexia/bulimia is tenacious and insidious. For Jade, anorexia/bulimia was with her around the clock “24/7,” – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She says

“so many women she knows at university are also struggling with anorexia/bulimia.”

Anorexia/bulimia stands strong against her every morsel of food and her every social and private action. Jade is convinced that she must have done something horribly wrong to be sentenced to this horrible life, that she is now being punished for.

Negative thinking has taken over her thoughts about her past, present, and future. The anorexia/bulimia seems to have placed her in a horrible kind of suspended animation where she is convinced her past was all bad and that her future is destined to fail.

What Jade holds onto in the present are the rules and regulations of the perfect anorexic/bulimic life. She recognizes the irony of this safety. She is caught in a horrible double bind; she is too afraid to let go of the anorexic/bulimic lifestyle and equally frightened that anorexia/bulimia will eventually take her life.

An anorexic/bulimic lifestyle demands perfection and criticizes Jade at every step. It is a slippery slope. Often she describes anorexia/bulimia as a monster that overpowers her and yells bad thoughts at her. Jade’s lifestyle of anorexia/bulimia confuses her with fear and nullifies her hopes for progress and a re-discovered life. She laments that she has lost most of her friends due to the anorexia/bulimia and when she meets up with her one remaining friend she is taken over with thoughts that negatively compare her and fill her with guilt. She feels that people meet her only because they feel sorry for her and wonders why they “bother with me at all.”

At this point, she wonders if everyone would be better off if she were dead.

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Anorexia/bulimia – a real life story – Part 2

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

A Real-Life Story – part 2 of 2 | read part one here

The Death of a Daughter. Bad Professional Advice

One Sunday night Lynn Carpenter came upon her daughter Sheena purging in the bathroom and grew frightened. She phoned the doctor on call and was adamant that Sheena receive treatment right away. But when she brought Sheena to the regular family doctor a couple of days later, he dismissed the seriousness of Sheena’s eating disorder. “He told us that we caught it in time and assured me that Sheena would work it out,” says Carpenter.

Looking back now Lynn reflects that “If only I had have followed my own instincts and gotten Sheena the intensive therapy she needed, who knows what would have happened? Instead, I took my doctor’s advice; I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

Sheena needed therapy but the Carpenter family doctor merely instructed the young woman to gain twenty pounds. Sheena followed the doctor’s order, but without any other supportive help, the restricting and purging continued.

Sheena’s world became even more isolated and involved with anorexia/bulimia and bulimia. She spent hours studying cook books. She became an expert on ingredients and their exact caloric count. At grocery stores, she could become transfixed for ten minutes or longer while holding a piece of fruit or vegetable.

At home, her mother became increasingly frustrated and distraught. “She would just move her food around the plate, or, she would chew, then put it in a napkin. I never knew when I would find regurgitated food somewhere in her room. It was very disruptive to our family life…,” she says, her voice trailing off.

Eventually Lynn began therapy to try and make sense of Sheena’s disordered eating. “I went because I couldn’t cope with Sheena’s eating disorder and because I didn’t understand it. The therapy helped me a little, but it wasn’t enough.”

Lynn tried to bribe her daughter to get some help and at one point Sheena was enrolled in a hospital out-patient program. But Carpenter feels as though Sheena only agreed to please her mother; she soon dropped out of the program.

Sheena continued to get sicker. One day, at 57 pounds, she lost total control of her bodily functions and then went into seizure. This landed her in the hospital and eventually onto the hospital’s psychiatric ward.

At first Carpenter was grateful. She thought her daughter would finally get the help she needed, or at the very least, the experience would scare her so much that she would then agree to do anything to ensure she would never end up in a hospital again. However neither happened. “She would call me saying ‘why mom… why are you doing this to me?'” Sheena finally agreed that if the hospital stopped the forced feeding, she would eat on her own. But she was made to eat in front of the nurses’ station. The staff locked the washrooms, to prevent purging.

Sheena pleaded with the doctor in charge of her care to start therapy but according to Lynn Carpenter her daughter’s pleas were in vain. “Basically, the doctor said the body had to be healthy before the mind could be healthy,” Lyn explains. Three months into the hospital stay, distressed and distraught, Lynn accepted her daughter’s request to leave.

When Sheena’s doctor finally called Lynn, she told him:

“There was no way Sheena should have been on the same ward as patients with other kinds of mental illness. Anorexia/bulimia is just not like any other kind of illness.”

On the advice of a therapist, Sheena moved into her own apartment. Although she was only fifty-five pounds she got a job as a security guard. Again Lynn believed that Sheena was showing signs of improvement. But after a few days when her calls were not returned, Sheena’s mother got worried and went over to see if her daughter was allright. She found twenty-two-year-old Sheena lying dead on the kitchen floor.

Carpenter was devastated; she simply couldn’t believe that Sheena had died. “She was so strong minded. She never believed she would die from anorexia/bulimia. She would always say to me ‘mama, this will never take me away.’ I wondered how many other mothers have wanted to believe this hopeful message. I only wish I had followed my gut, gotten help earlier, let her stay at home, and followed my own advice.”

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Anorexia/bulimia – a real life story – Part 1

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders | 0 comments

A Real-Life Story – part 1 of 2 | read part two here

A Mother’s Story

Six years ago, Lynn Carpenter lost her only child, Sheena, to anorexia and bulimia. Lynn says, “When Sheena died friends of mine back home couldn’t believe that someone in North America could starve to death.” These same friends had a logical solution, ‘why don’t you just force her to eat, just shove food in her mouth.’ If it were only that easy and the complexities of anorexia and bulimia were that simple, Lynn would not have lost her daughter.

There was a time, well before Carpenter realized that Sheena had an eating disorder, when she held similar views. “Look, I had no idea what an eating disorder was. I used to get angry with Sheena for not eating. But I had no idea what was going on. I had nowhere to go and no one to talk to.”

Sheena’s Deadly Recruitment

Sheena Carpenter always wanted to be a model and at the age of fourteen she went to a modeling agency to have her potential assessed. What happened there, Lynn Carpenter believes, is what triggered Sheena’s eating disorder. “At the time I thought it would be beneficial because it would help to give her some self-confidence.” Instead what she received was a list of cosmetic surgeons specializing in facial liposuction. The agency told Sheena that if her face was a bit thinner, she would have potential as a model. “I just ripped the paper out of her hand and told her that until she was of age there was no way I would allow her to do this to herself,” says Carpenter, still visibly angry.

Sheena became obsessed with the modeling agency’s advice. By attempting to re-shape the way her face looked, her weight dropped to seventy-five pounds. She began to wear layers of clothing, trackpants under her jeans and large sweaters as a way to hide what was happening to her body. But it wasn’t until Carpenter came upon 18-year old Sheena purging in the washroom of their home that she fully confronted the reality that something was wrong with her daughter.

When Sheena was nineteen she took her savings – all two thousand dollars of it – and had the liposuction treatment. The perfect results were, predictably, “disappointing” to her. Sheena went back to an even stricter self-starvation and purging regime because “She thought they hadn’t made her face thin enough,” says her mother.

Carpenter says she never really considered that the messages for young women in North American society were in any way harmful. “I didn’t have a problem with any of that stuff before. Now,” she says and leans towards me with a lowered, quietly seething voice, “I cannot watch Fashion TV or beauty pageants. Too many girls think that’s what they have to look like to become successful as a woman. I have a lot of issues with that now.”

Carpenter admits she too had issues about her body growing up. “I always hated my own body,” she tells me candidly, “and I had very little confidence. Sheena grew up with that; kids become their environment.”

I wonder if the “environment” she is speaking about includes the fashion TV and other perfect body shaping media forms she had just mentioned, or whether she, like so many other mothers, is placing all the blame on herself.

See: Death of a Daughter

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