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Happy May 2009!

 

The world’s favorite season is the spring.
All things seem possible in May.
-Edwin Way Teale
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Is it really May, already?

Life has been good… definitely busy, but equally good!

The frenzy of prepping for gallery openings along with late nights doing my own work at the studio, holding support groups combined with some Yoga&Massage on the side has been quite the balancing act to say the least.

The end of the school year countdown has begun by our daughter, who has been finding recovery balances, challenges, and triumphs, mingled in with the excitement and plans for what she’ll be wearing and planning for graduation along with pre-summer preparations– Life is good!

And daily I try to make time to reflect on how grateful and blessed I am for my family, dear friends and acquaintances on this journey of Life- merci!

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Happy Feet

In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.

-John Muir

EOEDs

 

… it’s not “just a phase”.

 

Potentially life threatening medical complications are ‘common’ in children affected by early onset eating disorders (EOEDs), a study reported in the Medical Journal of Australia has found.

 The first prospective national study of EOEDs also revealed major limitations in current diagnostic criteria, possible missed diagnoses and a need for better education of health professionals. The study examined data from 101 cases of EOEDs in children aged five to 13 years, and found that 78% were hospitalised with an average length of stay of almost 25 days.

Study co-author and leading child psychologist Dr Sloane Madden, from Westmead Children’s Hospital, said the results show younger children with EOEDs are presenting with severe disease. “Only 37% of inpatients in the study met the current diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, yet 61% had potentially life threatening complications of malnutrition and only 51 % met the weight criteria,” Dr Madden said. “This suggests the current criteria for diagnosing anorexia nervosa in young children are limited.”

An editorial on the study in the same edition of the MJA highlighted that about a quarter of cases in the study were boys. Editorial author, Foundation Chair of Mental Health at the University of Western Sydney’s School of Medicine, Professor Phillipa Hay, said “The relatively high proportion of younger boys with EOEDs contrasts with men accounting for about one in ten adult cases of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa,” Professor Hay said. “More research is needed, but the work by Madden and colleagues supports the hypothesis that EOEDs may differ in important ways, including sex distribution and course, from eating disorders with onset in adolescence and adulthood. “It is imperative that research attention is now directed towards understanding why such young children are developing severe eating disorders and how effective identification and treatment can be targeted earlier.”

-SourceMedical Journal of Australia

The Triple Bind

If you haven’t read Hinshaw’s The Triple Bind you need to…

 

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“Impossible expectations — Blue jeans and “blue” genes *(love this analogy)* : depression and the triple bind — Life in the pressure cooker : impossible expectations and the culture of busy-ness — No place to run, no place to hide : the popular culture of “self-erasing identities” — When virtue is its own punishment : how empathy and verbal skills may put our girls at higher risk — Bratz dolls and pussycat dolls : teaching our girls to become sexual objects — The wired child : how cyberculture interferes with girls’ identities — See Jane hit : the new culture of violence among teenage girls — Is there a triple bind solution? — Conclusion: coming to terms with the triple bind.”

 

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GS Cookies

This time of year is well known for the Girl Scout Cookie Sale that embarks within most school communities, shopping malls and many an entrance at one’s local grocery store– I still do love the Thin Mints, kept in the freezer (yes, I’m weird!) and an extra box in the pantry, perfect with strong coffee or milky chai– yum!*

This year’s annual also brings an additional treat for those involved with youth groups, GS adult members/parents; and girl advocates in the Kalamazoo, Michigan area at the 2009 Girls Developer Summit whose conference theme: True Respect Starts on the Inside encompasses all day sessions ranging in topics from Internet Safety, Dating Violence, Nutrition, Positive Parenting/Family to Eating and Body Image Disorders, carried by keynote speaker and award-winning youth development author and advocate, Courtney Macavinta.

For registration and further information click here for brochure, phone: (800)788.4919 or contact Mariela Rua at mrua@gshom.org.

*GS has a new Daisy-Go-Rounds cinnamon flower cookie this year too!

Sarah Stevens (center) and siblings-StarTimes

I love reading authentic stories about hard-won recovery work unadulterated by a gamut of other voices and agendas. And when it’s coupled with a genuine spirit and determined passion to make a difference in the eating disorder community you can’t help but be touched and feel gratitude toward those who have not only triumphed over an eating disorder but are determined to implement change.

So while in the midst of carving the last finishing touches upon our collected Jack-O-Lantern harvest and waiting to roast the seeds, allow Sarah Stevens’s story to inspire (you can also sponsor her ‘Walk’ scheduled in November: beautifulstars@hotmail.co.uk or sponsor by phone: (09)426-4844)and cast the goblins away this Halloween Day!

Happy Samhain to my Earth-centered friends!

… then shouldst have it for gingerbread*.   -William Shakespeare

      * Or in my case fresh carrot cupcakes

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Summer is winding down and it’s been a fantastic couple of months.  Gracious thanks to those of you who continued to email throughout the summer (for almost a month we were too deep in another world to even want access to the internet) with a wealth of supportive and heart-filled thoughts.  I was touched beyond words that can even begin to express my endless appreciation to you all.  And though I didn’t get a chance to respond to everyone in kind as of yet, I just wanted to share, once again how much this has meant to me and our family– merci!**

On another update-note, Drs Daniel le Grange and James Lock will be conducting a one and 1/2 day FBT-Maudsley training targeted towards adolescents with eating disorders in Portland, Maine: September 23-24th.  What a wonderful opportunity to continue to utilize family-based, supportive and evidence backed treatment practices that integrate all those involved within their loved ones’ care and recovery.  Mary Orear, executive director of Mainely Girls is sponsoring this event, for further information click on the highlighted link.

Hope all of you had a restful and recuperative Summer– and looking forward to reconnecting more regularly soon!

-shanti

-epicself

 

Well I haven’t been blogging to an idealized expectation… but there is good reason– SPRING!  

This time of year is definitely infectious for us.  Things are blooming, the soil is deep, dark, rich and inviting (which reminds me, the compost needs turning)  and I simply can’t resist when the weather beckons and stays as wonderful as it has.  We spend most of our time outdoors when spring and summer arrive so I can only apologize for posting infrequently and sporadically.  And this summer we’ll be either vacationing in India, the Rocky Mountains, or beachin’ it on Big Sur– so even more intermittent rambles, c’est ca!

This weekend is also Chicago’s Green Festival and we’ll be heading out for the party.  Personally I can’t think of a better way of treating the family with some fun, gorgeous weather, great food and extended community company!

Wishing all of you a very Bountiful, Healthy and Happy Summer!

-shanti

                                                    Being an artist

                                     means, not reckoning and counting,

                                             but ripening like the tree

                                          which does not force its sap

                                               and stands confident

                                             in the storms of spring

                                       without the fear that after them

                                              may come no summer

                                             -RAINER MARIA RILKE-

 

I love how the birth of International No Diet Day began “from a picnic in Mary’s living room” in the early ’90’s and fertilized it’s magnitude world-wide.  Ms Evans-Young is herself a recovered anorexic and wrote the book Diet Breaking: Having it all Without Having to Diet and it couldn’t be a better time than now to let the message sink in– deep and with reflection.

Largesse gives the background on the term: size esteem  which was initially coined by Richard Stimson, husband to a contributing director/writer at the site, Karen Stimson who explains it perfectly:

– Feeling acceptance of, respect for, and pride in one’s body, whatever its size or shape

But I like this analogy even more highlighted by Cheri Erdman EdD who wrote the book Live Large! and thought about it as a simple yet poignant equation:  Size Acceptance + Self Esteem = SIZE ESTEEM

Either way you think about it, the insanity of dieting, wanting to force our bodies to be a size/shape it was not genetically determined to be– and thankfully so for the beautiful variety of shapes, sizes, colors, we all add to the collage of life, is quite dubious. 

It’s even further magnified when you or a loved one suffer from an eating disorder and are trying to regain your health and follow through with recovery and maintaining wellness in a seemingly endless fat-phobic, diet-crazed, fashion-consumed environment.  Our daughter at times can take on this incessant self-doubt and accusational inquiries about why she has to eat what she has to when others, her classmates, etc. eat less than she does and are constantly discussing “fat” laden topics— it’s enough to make anyone go a little bonkers.  Advertisers, marketing, the health ins field, even health care (hey, let’s face it– those mega-million dollar hospitals that now look more like shopping malls want  to treat the ill business) and the all time winner: the diet industry.

Stuffed and Starved is a title from researcher Raj Patel more about food prices, the global-glut, etc. but I had to think about this a little bit more this morning how it really ties into so many other layers of Life– and will be worth dissecting and playing off the similar as well as dissimilar dualities we can only pretend don’t exist, or just think is someone else’s “problem” to fix, get over, medicate– like the cliched remark I’ve heard countless times since our daughter was diagnosed with anorexia- “why doesn’t she just eat?!”, then the instant turn against parents when our children don’t eat = it’s your fault, you did something “wrong”, etc.

Yes, INDD is a day we find relative and meaningful in our family.  And with the weather reaching low 70’s, sun shining– I think a picnic is just what we’ll do to celebrate this day!

-shanti

Tula Karras

 

When your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder your life changes- permanently.  There is no looking back (though you do, and weep and grieve for the child you once knew and still know lies underneath the ED just waiting to find his/her way back– and they do!) there is no denying the obvious even when this illness can completely blindside and throw you off your center until you fully understand and grapple with its complexity– and even then you can still be utterly perplexed. 

But you take action, keep your son/daughter safe, provide nutritional sustenance, comfort and support.  You find the appropriate medical care, treatment facilities and resources that will help him/her, as well as yourself,  find their way back to health, well being and continuing to work towards their full recovery– however that needs to happen- you just do it.  We’re parents, Moms&Dads, families, grandparents, cousins, all taking those measures and lending a hand because we love each other and want to see those suffering find their way back to their true selves, living their dreams, passions and finding happiness- not perfection- in what gift of our Lives we have been given.  Life is certainly not an easy journey, and growing up, becoming an adult, raising a family, fumbling through difficulties– these are all illuminating lessons to help bring us back to grace and compassion, wisdom and understanding.

Something within my own inner perspective and thinking is having a bit of a snag though.  Maybe because I know how damn hard it is to wrestle with an illness our daughter was diagnosed with over a year ago.  Knowing how hard she has worked to get to where she is now, how much more persistence and vigilance she will continue to have, especially now that she is fully discharged from the eating disorder program she has been intensely involved with for several months, and facing a culture and society that seems to be ironically having increased insecurities, issues and numbers of individuals (especially within older adult populations) with “disordered eating” patterns and behaviors, which to me on the outside look and behave just like our daughter did prior to her being diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. 

There is this surreal sensation that comes over me when I briefly skim over an article in SELF Magazine that highlights a partnered survey studythat was done in collaboration with Dr Cynthia Bulik and the University of North Carolina that states that “3 out of 4 American Women have disordered eating” and the magazine survey whose participants numbered over 4000, and probably still counting on both the survey, forum and follow up, continue to show an increase in disordered eating patterns and ranges of destructive habits that clearly as Dr Margo Paine boldly states exemplifies, “Dieting is a national pastime for women” and “as a society, we don’t see the problem“.

The survey also goes further into describing additional categories that 6 out of 10 (1 out of 10 have eating disorders) women who are categorized as “disordered eaters” describe themselves into specific subsets:

 

* Calorie Prisoners

* Secret Eaters

* Career Dieters

* Purgers

* Food Addicts

* Extreme Exercisers

 

Of course, none of these descriptors are new.  But while some studies and stats have been pointing towards an increase of younger individuals being diagnosed with eating disorders, which may indeed be on the rise, though it’s always difficult to know whether we are only getting better at earlier diagnosing and intervention; and if some of the outcry and attention to the issue is creating the continued awareness, discussion, research and treatment standards.  But this survey, as some previous others, is showing the age range to be in the adult category of a 25-45 year old female base, and from what I’ve read in some previous studies, this seems to be more consistent and increasing if you are to follow the conclusions.

Yes, I’m perplexed and even angry.  I don’t want to see anyone needlessly suffering with any disordered eating behavior(s) that can have even the subtlest of impact upon ones’ health- period.  But I also have another irritating irk in thinking about the continued impact these findings, if they are showing continued rises in eating-disordered behavior have upon our youth and young adults who are watching, reading, and taking in this information too.  What, if anything does this ultimately translate to and what can be done to counteract this deranged preoccupation with dieting, body-dissatisfaction, and just overkill of the human body? When will the craziness stop just long enough to take a step back, breathe, and find acceptance and compassion for who you are as you are being enough, being worthy– because we all are.

And our kids need us to model and reinforce these strong capabilities and common-sense practicalities.  When I see a book titled: My Beautiful Mommy I think this is a joke, right? But I find that it’s written by a plastic surgeon, and really set on promoting this “upkeep” ideal while cunningly proclaiming under a guise of “help”.  Are we so far gone into our self-absorbed psyches that we are so easily swayed and coerced into finding this worthy of publication to begin with? Apparently so, as the book is being sold and bought, joke or not– some are taking the bait and seem to be biting hard, though not into much that will keep one nutritionally and mentally stable.

Our daughter has to not only find safety, stability and assurance within her home environment, but the world outside as well.  And this rant of a thread I’ve lowered myself to in this post just proves what an apparently obnoxious mother on a mission I am (imperfections and all- silicon free and able to eat minus fear thankfully) to keep my daughter moving towards a healthy, happy and internally sustained recovery and passionately what that means to me.

Ladies and Gentlemen, can this insanity please begin to find it’s way back in the hole from where it came?  Like a fire out of control, can we begin to find some means of putting this insatiable flame to some simmering rational end? Will these studies and polls just continue to bloom, boggle and frustrate so many of us, while invoking the opposite within others to think less of themselves, and to possibly court a potential ED, especially for those who are either biologically, physiologically and/or genetically predisposed and vulnerable?

To continued Health, Strength & Insight for us all.

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