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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Binge Eating

Here is an interesting story about a young woman's battle against the binge eating disorder. She was overeating because food had become a source of comfort to her. An eating disorder is often the manifestation of some psychological problems, such as low self-image and self-esteem. Eating disorders can't be fixed simply by weight loss, since if the psychologic issues are not solved, the weight will come back. There are treatments for eating disorders. Such treatments are effective in losing weight when combined with weight loss.
Morgan Wylie doesn't know how much she weighs. She says that the last number she knew was frightening to repeat. Yet although she's 6 feet tall with broad shoulders and a hefty figure -- what we gamely call "a big girl" -- she's nowhere near the behemoth you're led to expect from reading her blog, Fatgrrl.

Wylie, 27, is a recovering binge eater, and while it's going to be one day at a time for a long time, she recently experienced an amazing success -- if only it could have felt that way in the moment.

Binge eating is about eating alone, eating secretly. "I didn't want people to know how much I was eating," Wylie said, aware that her eating was abnormal. She thought about eating all the time, obsessively planning what to have, where to get it, how to fix it, what to do when it was gone. The ritual gave her comfort, slowed her thoughts.

Her mind has raced for years, always in pursuit of perfection. She was raised by a mother who served in the military, which meant a lot of moving and being the new kid. She was always bigger than the other students, or as she refers to them, "the little bastards on the playground."After a disastrous first job, Wylie was hired by the Walker, but needed a second job to pay her food bills. Life was up and down. She read "The Fat Girl's Guide to Life" by Wendy Shanker and laughed, an emotion she'd never associated with the food she kept hidden in her filing cabinets. Then she ran across Big Fat Blog, a Chicago-based blog about fat acceptance, notable for founder Paul McAleer's coining of the term Fatosphere. She began blogging herself, finding a voice and a community.
... ...
Bring up eating disorders and most people think "15-year-old suburban white female with anorexia," said Jillian Croll, director of education, research and program development for the Emily Program. Yet anorexia affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population and bulimia affects 4 percent, while the portion of binge or compulsive overeaters is closer to 10 percent, she said.

"The tricky thing is that many people have no idea that there's help for it," Croll said. "They think it's just how they live their lives. 'Oh, I emotionally overeat.' So do lots of people."

Treatment involves identifying the feelings that are masked or soothed by overeating, so that as people improve their attitude about eating, they improve their attitude about themselves.

Sessions are intensive, especially the experiential meals in which clients learn not only nutrition, but also "how" to eat. Take the pizza dinner. The dietitian was urging people to pick up the slices with their hands, while everyone was stubbornly using their knives and forks. Why? Because eating with a fork lessened the chance that something would drip onto their shirts. "There's a huge thing of not wanting to spill on yourself, because then you'll appear slovenly and disgusting, which you already think you are," Wylie said.

Breaking such chains of behavior is a prime goal, Croll said. "There's a lot of black-and-white thinking: I had one doughnut, so I might as well eat the whole box.' We help people to realize that you don't have to go to that black-and-white thinking, that there is a gray area where you can say, 'I had one, I wonder what it would feel like to stop now. Or to stop at two,' then move on and not feel as though they've committed a mortal sin."

Warning signs of bingEing or compulsive overeating
  • Overeating or eating uncontrollably, even when not physically hungry
  • Eating very rapidly
  • Eating alone due to shame or embarrassment
  • Feelings of guilt and shame due to overeating
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Isolation, often from activities involving food, due to embarrassment about weight or eating
  • Eating very little in public, but maintaining a high weight
  • Preoccupation with weight, dieting and food
  • Chronic dieting
  • Typically, awareness that eating patterns are abnormal

Quoted from: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/16086527.html


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