The-F-Word.org

Participants wanted for eating disorder survey

9th August 2010

Participants wanted for eating disorder survey

by Rachel

Jennifer Barnes, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Teeside University, is looking for men and women between the ages of 18-65 who speak fluent English to participate in an online eating disorder survey.  Jennifer explains:

This study is looking for any relationship between symptoms of eating disorders, beliefs people hold about themselves, and the ways in which people protect themselves against stress. Therefore, the study will involve asking questions about people’s thoughts and feelings about eating and about the relationships in their lives, as well as questions about people’s attitudes. It is hoped that this study will further understanding of the characteristics of individuals with symptoms of an eating disorder, and this information would be useful in order to inform therapeutic practice. In addition, this study will hopefully contribute to the body of research involving men with symptoms of eating disorders. However, please note that people of any gender can take part in this study.

You do not need to have an official eating disorder diagnosis to participate.  The survey should take about 30 minutes to complete.  Participants will be entered into a drawing to win a prize of £50.  h/t Men Get Eating Disorders Too.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Rachel | 5 Comments

14th May 2010

Free “Heal from Emotional Eating” teleclass on June 10

by Rachel

Friend of the blog and health counselor Golda Poretsky is offering a FREE 90-minute teleclass from 8 – 9:30 p.m. EST  June 10 on how to heal from emotional eating.  Oh, yeah… Did I mention the class is FREE?

In this 90-minute teleclass, Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. (founder of Body Love Wellness and leading authority on Health At Every Size) will share her top techniques for healing from emotional eating — the same ones she shares with her private coaching clients.

You’ll walk away from this call with surprisingly powerful, yet simple techniques for healing from emotional eating.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

* Easy ways to reconnect with your body’s innate wisdom.
* The one essential vitamin that you’re definitely missing.
* Why you can’t stick to diets (hint: it’s not about willpower).
* Why you find it hard to stop eating at night.
* How to heal from habits that no longer serve you.

Whether emotional eating is a new problem for you or you’ve been doing it as long as you can remember, you’ll get at least 3 BIG insights into how to heal from emotional eating that you’ll be able to use immediately to reconnect with your body and eat healthfully with ease.

Register HERE.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Rachel, Recovery | 3 Comments

23rd February 2010

NEDAW: Eating disorders’ forgotten victims

by Rachel

This month is Black History Month and this week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and Stephanie Armstrong addresses both in an interview on “Saturday Mornings with Joy Keys,” an interactive, live Internet talk-radio show that focuses on “providing people with tools to enrich and advance their lives mentally, physically, monetarily and emotionally.”  Stephanie  is the author of the new memoir Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat: A Story of Bulimia, in which the now 40-something, recovered, married mother of one daughter and two stepdaughters documents her descent into bulimia in her early 20s and describes her struggles as a black woman with a disorder consistently portrayed as a white woman’s disease.  The Brooklyn native also examines the “bootylicous” black woman stereotype and why the black community’s “code of silence” often leaves black women with eating disorders suffering in silence.  The work is being hailed as the first book by and among black women about eating disorders.  You may remember that Stephanie also answered the-F-word’s questions a few months ago.

Guests included Stephanie and Laurie Vanderboom, program director for the National Eating Disorders Association, which sponsors and coordinates National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  A few interview highlights

Joy: What do you (NEDA) see when you have these programs?  Do you see a lot of African American women coming to the programs?

Laurie: We’re just beginning to and we’re just beginning to reach out.  There’s so much shame involved in an eating disorder that people hesitate to step up.  Stephanie, wouldn’t you agree that no matter what your racial make-up…

Stephanie: Absolutely, but especially coming from a culture that doesn’t support therapy, that doesn’t support getting outside help, and risking falling outside of the strong black woman archetype that we’re raised believing and have to become.  It’s hard to disassociate yourself with that image to get the help you need.

———————————-

Stephanie: One of the things I always talk about, especially in the black community, is that we don’t have an awareness of what exactly bulimia is.  It’s like you go to someone’s house and they’re drinking that dieter’s tea.  That’s bulimia.  Laxative abuse is bulimia.  Diuretic abuse is bulimia.  Compulsive exercising is bulimia.  It’s like we think it’s just throwing up, but it’s not just throwing up.

———————————-

Joy: I was talking with a professor of mine and he mentioned that psychologists don’t diagnose African American women properly with eating disorders, because they’re not used to seeing a African American woman coming to their office with this issue. Stephanie, do you feel that that’s the case?

Stephanie: Absolutely. Absolutely. I am constantly talking to women — some who are therapists, some who are young — who are constantly misdiagnosed. I’ve had doctors say, ‘Oh, you don’t have an eating disorder. African Americans don’t have eating disorders.’ I had a young woman call me yesterday – she goes to Clark Atlanta College and she’s at the American University in DC working on an exchange and she’s doing a paper in journalism and decided to do a paper on blacks and eating disorders because her aunt was bulimic and died from it. She calls me up and she said her teacher said, ‘Well, the problem is that there aren’t really that many black women with eating disorders, so that’s going to be a hard paper to do.’ It’s that overall belief that we don’t exist. (she briefly cites a rundown of research showing the prevalence of eating disorders among black women and girls, including this study) …the research is seeping in, but it’s still not getting the attention.

And it’s not just black women with eating disorders who are thought to be virtually non-existent.  Running Tiptoe recently posted a review of a recent “Intervention” episode featuring an Hispanic woman with an exercise addiction and a history of bulimia.  In her review, she offered this link to this 2006 study of “eating disturbances among Hispanic and native American youth,” in which it was found a much more significant pattern of disordered eating behaviors than previously thought.  There are more stats and studies on Hispanic women and eating disorders listed in this 2003 news report.*

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, eating disorders continue to persist in public opinion as a disease young, white girls from middle-class and wealthy backgrounds develop.  But eating disorders are the great equalizers: food is one of the few legal “drugs” out there; everyone needs it to survive;  and in industrialized nations, at least, is widely available and relatively cheap.  That, combined with the constant affirmations of weight loss as morally good and idolization of thinness saturating virtually every facet of our lives, and it’s no wonder that  those with emotional issues and unfulfilled needs might turn to food and the body to express a pain they cannot put into words.

Black girls and women with eating disorders.  Hispanic girls and women with eating disorders.  Adult women with eating disorders.  Boys and men with eating disorders.  Orthodox Jewish girls and women with eating disorders.  Poor girls and women with eating disorders.  We. All. Exist.

* For more information on eating disorders amongst non-white populations, see here.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, Class & Poverty, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Gender & Sexuality, Interviews, Mental Health, New Research, Purging Disorder, Race Issues, Rachel, Recovery | 5 Comments

22nd February 2010

NEDAW: 10 Facebook groups you should join

by Rachel

This week marks National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW), and so we will be posting tools/resources/tips/personal stories and more this week in support of eating disorder recovery.  To kick the week off, how about checking out and joining these supportive Facebook groups (because isn’t everyone and your grandma on Facebook?).

  • Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action: The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action promotes the recognition of eating disorders as a policy concern. This Facebook group was created so that people will know that there is hope. It is for everyone who is alarmed by the prominence and danger of eating disorders, but is unaware of what can be done to change it. We can ask our government to help create actual policies that will translate into advancing the goal of eating disorder prevention and recovery…
  • Blogging for [ED] Awareness & Recovery: A group of bloggers that write specifically about eating disorders, whether a loved one has been diagnosed or you have been yourself.  This group is *NOT* for pro-ed blogs! These are strictly recovery and awareness-minded bloggers!
  • I’m making fat socially acceptable and I’m not sorry:  This is a fat acceptance group. This group is for people who one day stumbled upon the truth that fat is not as bad as it is made out to be. In fact, most of the time fat isn’t bad at all – and even in the cases where it is (where is causes mobility or other issues) it isn’t being treated properly, and fat hatred is only hurting the issue…
  • Dear Eating Disorder,: This is a group for those of us who suffer from an eating disorder can come and write a letter to let ED know exactly what we think of it. Whether you are recovering or recovered. Whether you are struggeling or in a good place. Whether the Eating Disorder is runining your life or the life of a friends or family members its time it should know. Tell your Eating Disorder your thoughts and feelings about it. Breakup with the Eating Disorder if you want!!!
  • Start a Revolution.  Stop hating your body.: is an attempt to raise awareness about the vast array of problems that stem from body consciousness and lack of esteem including, but not limited to: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, body dysmorphic disorder, binge eating disorder, depression, and general dissatisfaction. Furthermore we acknowledge that society today has constructed a multi-billion dollar industry designed to perpetuate the desire for unattainable beauty while capitalizing on products for self-improvement. Our mission is to end corporate dominance over body esteem.
  • Men Get Eating Disorders, Too: is a web and publicity campaign that aims to raise awareness of male eating disorders to enable men to get support. The site provides essential information and advice, links to support and a message board.
  • Academy for Eating Disorders: The AED is a leading global professional association committed to promoting innovative eating disorders research,education, treatment and prevention.
  • Eating Disorders Anonymous: For those with eating disorders looking for support OR someone with a loved one suffering and needing advice as to what to do OR supporting friends with eating disorders OR wanting to know more about eating disorders and their danger [this group’s content is public, so be forewarned that it’s not exactly “anonymous,” per se).

And, of course, be sure to join The-F-Word’s Facebook page, as well as friends of the blog: Big Fat Deal and Feed Me!. Know of any other great Facebook or MySpace groups? Give them a shout out in the comments below!

f you’re slacking off at work or just killing time,

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Body Image, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Fat Acceptance, Mental Health, Rachel, Recovery | 1 Comment

18th February 2010

Because nobody wants to be friends with an asshole

by Rachel

Journalist Kate Baily wonders why more women don’t come out and tell their fat friends that they look like Shamu and need to speed dial Jenny Craig.  In an article in The Daily Express, she cites a recent study of 3,000 women in which one in five revealed she secretly thinks her best friend is fat but would never dare say so.  Baily writes:

So it seems we can’t even rely on our best friends to tell us when it’s time to quit the cupcakes.

Am I the only one who thinks that’s a crying shame? Whenever I watch TV diet programmes I am amazed that nobody has actually sat down with morbidly obese Jenny and had a word with her.

In that same un-cited study, Baily notes that one in four women “plucked up the courage” to tell a friend she should lose some of her fat ass — thus demonstrating nothing more than 25 percent of women are friends with a jerk — and of the friends in question, 12 percent “went mental” and one in five ended the relationship.  Baily wonders:

Isn’t that just a little, well, neurotic for grown-up women with jobs and families?  Shouldn’t we just be able to come right out and say, ‘You look like a badly trussed chicken in those jeans – go on a diet immediately’?

Right.  I’m willing to bet that Kate Baily doesn’t have all that many friends.

So, why don’t more women point out their gal pals’ flab? Uh, duh.  It’s because A: friends don’t police their friends’ weight or food choices and make them feel bad about themselves; B: your friend is a big girl (no pun intended) and can make her own decisions about what’s best for her and her health; and C: most fat people already know they’re fat, and therefore don’t need nor necessarily want their “friends” to hammer that point home or to offer up unsolicited weight-loss advice.  And should your fat friend ever want that advice, it’s not as if women’s magazines, television commercials, news outlets and even the White House aren’t already mass-churning out weight-loss tips and diet plans complete with fatalist warnings on how you and your fat ass are at risk for any number of so-called obesity-related diseases and are Public Enemy No. 1 to both the environment and national security.

And if it’s a case of emotional/compulsive overeating, binge eating or other eating disordered behaviors, focusing on a friend’s weight isn’t all that constructive or healthy.  Anyone who’s struggled with an eating disorder will tell you that it’s not about the weight — it’s about emotional issues, psychological and/or physical trauma, a need for power or control, etc… — and that weight is but a symptom of much larger issues at-hand.  Telling a friend with disordered eating issues that they “need to go on a diet immediately” is not only counterproductive in that it puts the focus on the symptom and not the cause, it’s also downright rude, callous and virtually irrelevant.  It’s a little like telling your unemployed friend who’s on public assistance that their clothes are shabby and unfashionable and that they need to go on a Saks shopping spree immediately.   As well, Kate Baily suffers from the culturally-driven delusion that not only is fat always unattractive, but that it’s always unhealthy — not to mention, that it’s always malleable.  When I was actively eating disordered, I received copious compliments about my weight loss that only spurred a disorder that damn near killed me.  Now that I’ve regained some of the weight I’ve lost, I’m much healthier and happier for it — something a true friend would already know.

A few of my more health-conscious friends and I discuss healthy foods and recipes and fitness and so forth, but weight rarely factors into these conversations because not only is it not all that high on our priority list, it’s also vapid and boring.  As part of my own commitment to recovery, which includes taking the pledge to end fat talk,  I actively seek to surround myself with people who respect me enough to not  infantilize me by asking if I really need that second helping and who have far more interesting things to talk about than their daily carb intake.  You?

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Body Image, Body Snarking, Diets, ED-NOS, Fat Bias, Rachel | 22 Comments

10th February 2010

Big changes proposed in eating disorder diagnoses

by Rachel

Given the blog’s focus, it’s not often that I have good news to report, so I tend to get a little giddy when the cosmos align in our collective favor. I blogged back in December, 2008 about proposed changes under consideration by the American Psychiatric Association to the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).  Considered the psychiatric bible of the field, the DSM is used by doctors to make a diagnosis and provides insurance companies with diagnostic codes without which the insurers will not reimburse patients’ claims for treatment. Among the conditions up for debate included making binge eating disorder (BED) an independent diagnosis (BED is currently lumped into the vague catch-all category of ED-NOS, which encompasses those who don’t meet one or more of the criteria for anorexia or bulimia).

You’d think that a condition estimated to eclipse both anorexia and bulimia combined would be a no-brainer for inclusion, right?  You’d think wrong.  Some mental health professionals actually protested classifying BED as a disorder, suggesting it to be a “normal behavior.”  Luckily for those who suffer from decidedly abnormal binge eating behaviors, the duh truck must have finally arrived at the APA, because when they released a draft of its recommendations today, it included recognizing BED as an official independent diagnosis — read the recommended criteria for diagnosis here.  This is awesome news, for in addition to psychotherapy, there are medications that have been shown to help people with binge eating disorder (Topamax and Wellbutrin, for example). If binge eating disorder were included in the manual as a legitimate eating disorder, those people who struggle with it might have an easier time getting insurers to cover the treatment and medication they so desperately need.

The recommendation of BED as an independent diagnosis is certainly the biggest change for eating disorders in the DSM, but there are other proposals under consideration that I think are pretty fabulous, too.

Purging Disorder

The work group is considering whether it may be useful and appropriate to describe other eating problems (such as purging disorder–recurrent purging in the absence of binge eating, and night eating syndrome) as conditions that may be the focus of clinical attention. Measures of severity would be required, and these conditions might be listed in an Appendix of DSM-5. If these recommendations are accepted, the examples in Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified will be changed accordingly.

As someone who suffered from what would be considered purging disorder with anorexic tendencies and was misdiagnosed with bulimia, I’m excited to see this relatively newly-popularized condition being entertained by the panel.  Pamela Keel, an associate professor of psychology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has made great inroads in research indicating purging disorder to be a significant problem in women that is distinct from bulimia.

Anorexia

Many eating disorder activists are critical of the phrasing in the criteria for anorexia of a “refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height.”  Refusal here, being the key word as myself and others argue that it’s not so much a refusal as it is an inability.  For more on this, read Harriet Brown’s critique of the semantics.  In its draft, the APA recommended clarifying the criterion to focus instead on behaviors, acknowledging that the word “refusal” implies intention and is “possibly pejorative and difficult to assess.”  The panel also recommended deleting the criterion of amenorrhea, thus opening up the diagnosis to a broader range of sufferers, including a growing number of men reporting anorexic behaviors.

In DSM-IV, amenorrhea is required. However, individuals have been clearly described who exhibit all other symptoms and signs of Anorexia Nervosa but who report at least some menstrual activity. In addition, this criterion cannot be applied to pre-menarchal females, to females taking oral contraceptives, to post-menopausal females, or to males. However, there are some data that women who endorse amenorrhea have poorer bone health than do women who fail to meet this criterion.  Deletion of this criterion is recommended.

Bulimia

The current DSM-IV requires episodes of binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur on average twice a week for three months.  The panel cited a literature review that found that the clinical characteristics of individuals reporting a lower frequency of once/week were similar to those meeting the current criterion, so they recommended that the required minimum frequency be reduced to once/week over the last three months.  The bulimia diagnosis also currently includes two subtypes: purging and non-purging.  People with non-purging bulimia often try to purge calories via exercise or fasting, but do not use enemas, self-induced vomiting, laxatives, etc..  The panel found that non-purgers more  closely resembled people with BED, and so they recommended deleting this subtype altogether.

Obesity

Despite reports from the Boston Globe that the APA was considering classifying obesity a mental illness, I see nothing in the draft indicating that it would be included.  The sheer ridiculousness of such a proposal simply blows my mind and at first I thought the Globe perhaps erroneously conflated obesity with binge eating disorder, since those with BED tend to be overwhelmingly overweight or obese, but it appears as if the idea was at least introduced.  A study released last summer examined the evidence for making obesity a mental disorder and found it significantly lacking, acknowledging only “evidence that obesity is related to mental disorder and many of the medications used to treat psychiatric illness.”  Considering that the latter evidence has been around since the 1990s, the study basically only confirmed the obvious.

———————-

Before we pop the cork on the champagne, keep in mind that this is only a draft, and is subject to change and that’s where you come in.  In a new twist for the APA, the organization has posted the draft online and is seeking feedback via the Internet from both psychiatrists and the general public about whether the changes will be helpful before finalizing them.  The draft manual, posted at www.DSM5.org, is up for public debate through April.  The final version is expected to be released in 2013.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Mental Health, New Research, Purging Disorder, Rachel | 16 Comments

15th December 2009

Calling all Maryland middle, high school and college artists!

by Rachel

The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt is inviting Maryland’s middle, high school and college students to participate in the 4th annual “Love Your Tree” poster campaign, which aims to promote a healthy body image. In response to the statement, “Like a tree, my body is…” students are invited to create posters that challenge narrow beauty ideals, and embrace body diversity and acceptance. Posters will be accepted until December 18, 2009 and one will be selected to be part of an exhibit during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week in February 2010. Please download the Call for Posters for additional details. All entries must be submitted along with a completed Registration Form prior to the December 18th, 2009 deadline. Poster entries must be no smaller than 9″ X 12″ and no larger than 18″ X 24″. Only two-dimensional media will be accepted.

For more information, contact Kate Clemmer at (410) 427-3886 or kclemmer@sheppardpratt.org.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Purging Disorder, Rachel, Recovery | Comments Off

24th November 2009

How to survive Thanksgiving when you’re in eating disorder recovery

by Rachel

Thanksgiving is perhaps the holiday that inspires the most amount of anxiety and fear in the hearts of those (Americans) with eating disorders, especially those of us with bingeing disorders like bulimia or BED who know we can eat the feast twice over and then some.  We’ve discussed tips and advice for the holidays here before, but I got a note from Denver-based Eating Recovery Center this week with even more coping skills for sufferers and caregivers that I thought helpful to share.

The Eating Recovery Center offers these five recommendations to help individuals in recovery confidently manage holiday festivities:

  • Shift the focus from food and counting calories to celebrating and spending time with loved ones.
  • Stay away from any kind of good food/bad food talk.
  • Surround yourself with people who have healthy relationships with their bodies, food and weight. When attending gatherings, bring a trusted family member or friend along with you if you can.
  • Keep lines of communication open and involve your family and friends in your challenges, victories and goals.
  • Before attending a holiday gathering, consider calling the host to ask what foods will be served. Bring along “safe food” if necessary.

During the holiday season, support from family and friends can significantly impact an individual’s ability to effectively handle these stressful situations. For those supporting someone with an eating disorder through the holidays, the Eating Recovery Center offers these suggestions:

  • Ask your family member or friend what you can do to best support them.
  • Ease into the holiday season by focusing on activities that don’t involve food, such as putting up decorations or sending cards.
  • Stress levels can escalate during a holiday gathering. Offering a loved one the chance to “escape” for a few moments can help keep emotions in check.
  • Be conscious of the snacks and treats displayed during holiday times. Reducing the availability of snacks can help your family member or friend maintain their regular eating schedule.
  • Have patience and express your continued support.

Feel free to share your own experiences and suggestions in the comments below.

UPDATE: Be sure to also check out today’s New York Times Well column on food, family and tension at Thanksgiving.  The column addresses the ways in which family members can impose their own disordered eating onto others.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Purging Disorder, Rachel, Recovery | 10 Comments

23rd November 2009

Binge eating disorder subject of LA Times special series

by Rachel

In conversations and debates on eating disorders, binge eating disorder (BED) is often the odd disorder out, even though it’s estimated to affect about 10 percent of the U.S. population and eclipses both anorexia (one percent) and bulimia (four percent) combined.  In fact, BED has yet to even be recognized as an official disorder unto itself — it’s currently lumped into the ED-NOS category in the DSM-IV.* So, it’s refreshing to see the Los Angeles Times do a four-part special feature today on BED, covering such basics as what it is, how it’s defined, who suffers from it and its triggers and health risks.

I’ve been meaning to write for a while now on a disturbing trend I’ve noticed in the past few years in which researchers and medical professionals lump obesity in with other clinically recognized eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia as if being fat itself is a symptom of a psychiatric illness.  This is despite the fact that the medical definition of obesity — the abnormal accumulation of body fat — denotes no specific action or criteria.  By contrast, there are strict diagnostic criteria, which include specific actions and behaviors, that must be met before one can be diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia.  For example, to be diagnosed with bulimia, one must engage in recurrent episodes or binge eating and employ inappropriate behaviors like self-induced vomiting, laxatives, fasting and/or exercise to “compensate” for binges.  To be considered obese, by contrast, one must only weigh 20 percent above what is considered to be “normal.”

So, I was relieved to read in the first of the LA Times’ series that not all health professionals and professional groups consider fatness itself to be indicative of a psychiatric illness:

In a paper prepared for one of the [American Psychiatric Assn.'s work group on eating disorders'] first meetings, University of Pittsburgh psychologist Marsha D. Marcus challenged members to answer a provocative question: Do all of the nation’s 72 million obese adults have a mental disorder — because, despite clear evidence of negative health consequences, they continue to consume more calories than needed to achieve a normal, healthy weight?

The group’s answer, said [Columbia University psychiatrist B. Timothy] Walsh, was a decisive no.

In the case of binge eating, he adds, mental illness can contribute to behavior that results in obesity. But not all who are obese have an eating disorder. And, in fact, not all patients who would meet the criteria for binge eating disorder are overweight. (While almost 40% of those with presumed binge eating disorder are thought to be obese, the rest are spread across the range of normal and overweight. Some, in fact, are underweight.)

I should add here that not all who are fat are so because they consume “more calories than needed to achieve a normal, healthy weight.”   Recent studies have confirmed that excess weight can be a side effect of psychiatric medications and we’ve discussed here before medical conditions like thyroid disorders and PCOS that can also result in weight gain despite consuming sufficient or even less than sufficient calories needed to maintain a “healthy” body weight.

So, what exactly is BED?  The LA Times offers the experiences one such woman, Rina Silverman, as a case study:

Overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger or stress trigger episodes of eating unusually large quantities of food, often when she’s not at all hungry. The guilt and shame that follow these episodes sustain her low opinion of herself, and Silverman assumes that her excess weight [50 pounds] prompts others to share that opinion…  She skips meals and eats erratically in an effort to compensate for her binges.

Experts are converging on the belief that a patient’s preoccupation with size — what Terry Wilson, a Rutgers University psychologist, calls “a dysfunctional concern over weight and shape” — should be a hallmark of a diagnosis for binge eating disorder.

But psychiatrists and psychologists say they must focus on a patient’s emotional pain and its effects on day-to-day functioning, not the patient’s weight.

When a person stops attending parties for fear she’ll embarrass herself with a spasm of eating; when out-of-control eating and the resulting weight gain stop a person from taking a bike ride with his kids or attending a beloved exercise class; when a bout of overconsumption is regularly triggered by anger, stress or sadness, or an unwillingness to acknowledge those feelings, these are cases of impairment and emotional distress that warrant the profession’s consideration, Wilson says.

The rest of the series addresses finer points of the debate, such as whether BED is an addiction and thus a kind of brain disorder or if its roots are more psychologically- than biologically-based.  The last article in the series briefly touches on therapeutic ways to break the patterns and behaviors associated with BED.  For more information on any of the above, check out the relatively new Binge Eating Disorder Association.

*Experts are currently debating including BED as a diagnosis unto itself in the fifth edition of the DSM.  For more on this, read here.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Health Risks, Rachel | 5 Comments

30th October 2009

Is bingeing in the eye of the beholder?

by Rachel

Matthew Tiemeyer, the about.com Guide to eating disorders, poses an interesting question about the definition of binge eating disorder and how it’s diagnosed.  He writes:

Here’s something I hadn’t thought about before. The definition of binge-eating disorder (BED) says that binges involve eating more food than most people would expect you to eat in a relatively short time. So what if all of the people in your world don’t find your eating out of the ordinary?

Another way of asking this question: Could the definition of BED be culturally-dependent? A blurb about a recent study suggests that black women meet BED criteria less often than white women. One of the project’s researchers says, “These (black) women could be binge eating, but they may have less anxiety and distress surrounding their eating habits, so they don’t recognize it as an issue.”

So I have to ask: If there’s no distress, is it really binge eating? Is it really an issue?

It’s irksome to find that the primary concern listed in the aforelinked blurb isn’t for the mental health or emotional wellbeing of women who may have binge eating disorder, but rather for the fact that OMG! they’re getting fatter! As for Tiemeyer’s question… what are your thoughts?

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, Race Issues, Rachel | 54 Comments

  • The-F-Word on Twitter

  • Categories


Socialized through Gregarious 42