3. Why are so many women over 40 developing eating disorders?
Addictionland - Addiction Recover Blog
3. Why are so many women over 40 developing eating disorders?
1. What are the key ingredients to a successful, long term recovery from bulimia?
The things that have helped me the most are abstaining from alcohol, continuing to work on the emotional challenges that always come up in life, maintaining a moderate and healthy approach to food, never weighing myself, staying active with a variety of sports, pursuing my own professional/personal goals, giving support and help to others who want guidance, having a spiritual practice, having a contagiously positive circle of friends, being grateful for my blessings, and sharing my story with those who still struggle because it keeps my addiction fresh in a good way.
Food has been a problem for mankind since Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The word forbidden conjures up thoughts about sin, punishment, guilt and shame. Food is still an emotionally charged area of life for many. If you have been on diet after diet after diet I bet that you want to be free to eat what you want without looking over your shoulder at the ghosts of the “diet police.”
Sometimes the “diet police” are real people, a parent or spouse who stays on your case and judges you or makes remarks about your looks or what you are about to put in your mouth. Sometimes you hire a policeman in the form of a doctor or nutritionist to tell you what to do. I once met a woman who wanted me to help her with her food cravings. After the first session she called to cancel. She explained, “I want someone to tell me what to do, so I am going to Weight Watchers because they weigh you, and if you don’t lose weight, they kick your ass!”
It is a fact that diets often lead to full blown eating disorders. When we hear someone tell us that certain foods must never pass our lips again it can cause a harmful reaction. The first Overeaters Anonymous meeting I ever went to scared me so much that I didn’t go back for four years!
The speaker, a slim woman, reminded us that we were allergic to sugar and if it passed our lips we would be certain to go into uncontrollable eating binges. She proudly announced that she hadn’t had a piece of cherry pie for umpteen years. Although I wanted to look like her and have the peace of mind she seemed to have, I went home and ate up a storm. Even though I hated cherry pie, the thought of never having it again, or any pie was more than my deprived inner self could accept.
What is a “bad” food? One person’s mayonnaise is another person’s ice cream. Carla told me that she had to stay away from mayonnaise because she liked to eat it with a spoon. I felt like gagging when she said this because mayonnaise is not one of my favorite foods so I have never felt a craving for it. Yet in my past I often ate peanut butter with a spoon and even had to hide it from myself. How can you hide it from yourself when you know where it is? This is crazy making!...
Binge eaters hate themselves because they can’t stop overeating. They promise themselves that they will stop tomorrow and be good, punish themselves for pigging out or panic because they can’t close their zipper. The one thing that bingers don’t do is to pay heed to the binge. Bingers tell themselves that binges are bad and the overeater is bad for being so weak.
If you are find yourself going out of control with a substance or behavior, I want you to consider that compulsive behaviors are a sign of a life out of balance. Instead of going into denial or trying to avoid binging again, let’s look at a binge as a message from your inner self trying to tell you that something is wrong in your life, and you are unwilling to face the pain or do something about its origin.
Stuffing yourself with food is like taking an aspirin when you have a broken leg. It may dull the agony a tiny bit, but it will not heal the problem. Often when an overeater curbs her gluttony she may often switch to another behavior that brings temporary pleasure such as overspending, gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc.
A young woman who had been hospitalized in her teens for treatment for her severe bulimia told me that she was grateful for that experience since she received help in understanding herself better and learned tools for problem solving, as she became an adult. A binge is an invitation to examine your life and create skills for dealing with the inevitabilities of life.
There are 5 steps to each binge....
It happens far too often. You read about some celebrity who has a new diet that is guaranteed to help you shed those pounds. Or you talk to a friend who has lost a ton of weight by following a new plan. You even hear the experts describe it not as a diet, but as a new way of life. So you go on it. Then the inevitable happens: you get bored, you get stuck, you cheat a little and then the cravings hit. The next thing you know it’s a slip then a relapse. Your choice is to try again, or head off to the next diet. Atkins. South Beach. Body for Life. Paleo. Is it going to work? In fact, research shows that dieting actually increases cravings.
What if the problem isn’t what you eat, but what you do when you are not eating? For most people that’s exactly the issue: the problem is cravings. Cravings are why you switched from one plan to another; cravings are why you feel you need to “cheat.” And cravings will come no matter what diet or “way of life” you choose.
So instead of, yet again, changing what you eat, why not change you, by changing what you do when you’re not eating? Here a 5 suggestions that will help you do just that and get those pesky cravings under control.
Write it down
“Wait… you want me to write down every single thing I eat or drink?” Absolutely. Keeping a food diary greatly improves your chance of success. Food diary users are more likely to lose weight, less likely to crave and more likely to stick to their plans. If writing down your meals is too cumbersome, a number of smartphone apps like LoseIt! and MyFitnessPal make logging a snap, and even allow you to scan the barcodes of foods to automatically enter their nutritional information. If you have issues with orthorexia, this may require some special modification/attention, but most people who struggle should take inventory. Many food diary users, however, will log their meals for a while and then stop, which leads to the next suggestion:...
Over the last several years, nearly every new diet on the scene has addressed cravings by suggesting “cheat meals.” Usually the hack formula goes something like this:
All the other diets you have tried have been wrong because they didn’t pay attention to the problem with food X. Food X and those like it are a major problem. You need to stop eating them. Here is a plan to do that and some recipes to show you that eating without food X is possible and even enjoyable. This is not a diet; it’s a way of life. Here are a bunch of people who have successfully lost weight on this plan. Oh and by the way, because the cravings will be intense, you should give yourself a break and cheat every once in a while. Of course, one major problem with these diets is that they don’t adequately address the more important issue: craving. In fact, research shows that dieting actually increases cravings.
However, another even more important reason these diets fail is that they never really address what is really core to the weight gain, dieting, weight loss cycle: shame. Shame drives the cravings bus. Shame is why you gain the weight back every time. Shame is what tricks you into thinking you “deserve” that piece of chocolate cake. Shame tells you that deserve to cheat every once in a while. For most people on the roller-coaster of dieting and weight gain, the diet they are really on is the shame diet. And they are bingeing and purging shame in a vicious cycle that no diet will ever adequately address.
Rather than a cheat meal, want to know what you really deserve? (Hint: it’s not some deep awareness about the toxic effects of wheat or gluten). It’s self-love, acceptance, peace, a sense of purpose, and connectedness. Shame destroys all of these basic human needs by tricking you into thinking that you deserve something that actually hurts you. Just think about it: does it really make sense that either cheating or dieting could be a solution for shame?
Leaving aside the issue of dieting…could it ever make sense that a new way of eating could solve the shame problem? And if you’re doing the cheating, who exactly is being cheated?...
I like that Valentine's Day is in the same month as Eating Disorder Awareness. Love is the remedy for any addiction. I suffered from bulimia for over a decade and understand the shame, pain and hopelessness that are hallmarks of an eating disorder.
When I began binging and purging in my mid teens, I had no idea my behavior was just a symptom of my attempt to gain control over my life. The daughter of loving and intelligent parents, yet an overbearing and opinionated mother and a judgemental and distant father, bulimia offered a chance to do exactly as I pleased without the consequence of judgement or withdrawl of love.
In fact, my nice shape got me the attention of my father who applauded my ability to control my physique and allowed me to do as pleased after having to comply with my mother's expectations of me. It worked for a long time until I started to notice how my eating disorder became the center of my life and all my interests, dreams and hobbies fell to the wayside.
It's hard to plan for a binge, shop for the food, eat the food in secret, purge in secret, make up stories to your roommates or parents, lie about your weight loss, feel comfortable in your body with a sore throat and stomach, feel good about yourself when you believe you are a fraud, etc....
I always thought that eating disorders and preoccupation with food began at at early age – like me when I was in my early teens. Through research that I am doing on aging and recovery from eating disorders, I am finding more and more articles on women who are caught up in the social demands that say thinness is where it is at and aging is where it isn’t. They turn 40 and start the spirit killer of food addiction.
Do women see themselves as somehow a burden? In some twisted way has food, body image, and weight became mixed up in the equation?
Treatment options may be limited for these women. How has this happened where women who are in their prime time of their life, suddenly find themselves upset and preoccupied with what they view as a defect with their bodies? Sad and senseless or makes perfect sense?
What happens for older women that suddenly find themselves starving all day and binging all night?...
I was quite simple for me.
Out of my desperation and hibernation into the pits of shame and self hatred, I started to tell the truth on how severe the binging and purging had gotten for me.
Thousands of dollars of in patient and out patient treatment just touched the surface of the despair in my heart. The confusion of who this person was beneath the big, baggy, black clothes was like a hurricane brewing in the ocean. Feared only by me.
Baggy clothes were like a wall of protection. You couldn't see me and I couldnt feel myself. The pain of it all was that I so desperately wanted to be seen. Pure confusion.
The secrecy behind locked doors kept the outside from looking in. No one could tell what I was doing with food. Binging, purging, binging purging. Some days it was all day. I hated myself for what I was doing and hated myself because I was so scared....