New blogs we like

8th October 2009

New blogs we like

by Rachel

Here’s five new-to-us blogs we love.  If you aren’t reading them already, go have a look.

  • Operation Beautiful:   Operation Beautiful is simple: all you need is a pen and a piece of paper…  So says site editor Caitlin, who’s on a mission to leave positive, body-affirming notes in public spaces and invites you to do the same.
  • The Manfattan Project: “A collection of photographs of stylish everyday people in New York City. These people are beautiful, they are well-dressed, they are confident. They are also, without apologies or contradictions, FAT.”
  • Men Get Eating Disorders Too: Okay, so it’s technically not a blog, but the site does feature personal stories and inspirational articles all penned by men with eating disorders in an effort to dismantle the gender stereotype keeping so many men from seeking help for their disorders.
  • More of Me To Love: The site’s mission is to “promote and spread the healthiness and happiness that you deserve through our welcoming community, certified experts and empowering programs. But More of Me to Love is more than the sum of its parts: it’s a lifestyle of living better and loving yourself.”
  • The Plus Runner:  Blogger Sallie has completed 12 half-marathons and another dozen triathlons and she’s done it all in sizes ranging from 16 to 22.  Her goal is to “encourage more future runners, walkers, hikers, to hit the road, and redefine your life as an active person.”

Know of any other awesome blogs or websites?  Post ‘em in the comment below.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Body-Affirming, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Fat Acceptance, Fitness/Exercise, Gender and Sexuality, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Purging Disorder, Rachel, Recovery | 6 Comments

2nd October 2009

New “Dying to Be Thin” series on iTunes

by Rachel

Google the phrase “Dying to be thin” and you’ll find some 61,000 results of books, documentaries, blogs, discussions, campaigns and even a Congressional report all bearing the mind-numbingly banal platitude.  Now there’s another title to add to the list.  Investigative journalist Suzanne Marcus-Fletcher, host of the Blog Talk Radio show the Body Politic, has compiled the new series for iTunes that addresses a variety of issues related to eating disorders.

Marcus-Fletcher’s Dying to Be Thin series taps Dr. Patricia Pitts, founder and CEO of The Bella Vita eating disorder treatment centers, and discusses such topics as “How do you know if you or a loved one has an eating disorder? “Misconceptions about eating disorders,” “The rapid rise of Manorexia among male teens and men.” The Body Politic also aired an episode live yesterday that addressed “”How dieting contributes to eating disorders.”  The series can be heard or downloaded from www.blogtalkradio/thebodypolitic, at, and on iTunes podcasts at BTR: The Body Politic.  For examples of some of the stories you will hear on the programs, check out this press release.

I’m currently at a local coffee house sans headphones, so I haven’t had a chance to listen to the series yet myself.  If you check it out, let us know what you think of it.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, Diets, Eating Disorders, Family Issues, Purging Disorder, Recovery | 4 Comments

12th August 2009

Eating Disorders/Fat Acceptance: What’s new on radio and in print

by Rachel

Darn!  It looks like I just missed Harriet Brown on WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane.  Harriet was on the first hour of the show (10 a.m. EST) to talk about the emergence of fat acceptance bloggers, along with Rebecca Puhlman, director of research for the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.  Check out a podcast of the show here.

A couple other body acceptance activists have been featured in the news lately and several new memoirs on eating disorder recovery have recently been released.  Here’s a run-down:

  • Rebecca Fox, author of Measure by Measure, was featured on WGLT radio’s Datebook last weekend.  Listen to the four-minute interview by GLT Arts Reporter Laura Kennedy here.
  • Peggy Elam was interviewed for the August edition of PLUS Model Magazine.  Peggy is a psychologist, editor and publisher of Pearlsong Press, an independent publishing company of size- and HAES-friendly works of fiction and non-fiction.
  • A job as a “slimming group leader” for an unnamed diet company spiraled into bulimia for Sue Gaskell. She’s now written a book called Eating Your Words that examines how the slimming group contributed to her eating disorder and how she overcame it.  It also gives advice for others on how to recover from eating disorders.  The book doesn’t appear to have been released just yet, but you can read more about it here.
  • Food writer Sheila Himmel and daughter Lisa, who recovered from anorexia, teamed up to write a book on their experiences.  In their book, Hungry, the mother-daughter team document how Lisa’s eating disorder affected their entire middle-class family and how they, as a family, pulled her back from it.
  • Monica Seles’ new book, Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self, is now out.  Seles, if you recall from a previous discussion here, struggled with binge eating disorder and depression and her new memoir chronicles her experiences and her recovery.  Anorexia and bulimia are popular among eating disorder memoirs, but binge eating disorder is a rare admittance for many owing to the stigma attached to it, thus making Seles’ book all the more significant.
  • Restaurant critic Frank Bruni details his experiences as an overeater starting at a very early age in Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, set for release on Aug. 20.  Bruni, who was only at most 20 pounds overweight at any given time in his life, also summarizes his struggles in this in-depth New York Times article.

Have you read any of these books?  Offer your reviews in the comments below or let us know of any other new reads on eating disorders or body acceptance I may have missed.

posted in Arts and Music, Binge Eating Disorder, Body Image, Bulimia, Eating Disorders, Family Issues, Fat Acceptance, Feminist Topics, Personal, Recovery | Comments Off

24th June 2009

What is normal eating, anyway?

by Rachel

I came across this definition of “normal” eating at The Joy Project and thought I’d pass along.  How much of this do you follow?  What’s normal eating like for you?

Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it- not just stop eating because you think you should. Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but NOT being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good. Normal eating is three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh. Normal eating is overeating at time: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also undereating at time and wishing you had more. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.

In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.*

The site also gives a hunger satiety scale for anyone with disordered relationships to food to fill out to help them reconnect with bodily cues on hunger and satiety — download it here (PDF) — and explains what a well-rounded meal is and why it’s so important especially for people recovering from food-related addictions.  IN all, The Joy Project sounds like an awesome organization.  Here’s what they’re about:

The Joy Project is a non-profit, grassroots organization based on the philosophy of using real-world, workable solutions to end the epidemic of eating disorders. We work towards reducing the rate and severity of eating disorders by supporting and conducting research, education, and support programs.

The goal of The Joy Project is to fill in the gaps caused by inadequate access to eating disorder treatment, and create a dialogue between researchers, treatment professionals, and those affected by eating disorders, in order to foster a better understanding of how to help people not only recover, but remain recovered. The Joy Project empowers eating disordered individuals by allowing them to use their own experience to advocate for themselves and others, and to create a community of support and hope among those who share the illness.

The organization offers support groups in the Minneapolis area and is nationally championing for change in ED diagnostic criteria, specifically to eliminate weight requirements for anorexia.  I am a big supporter of this initiative, as one of the reasons I was diagnosed with ED-NOS and not anorexia is because I didn’t meet the stringent weight requirement.  The fact that I lost much more weight in a shorter amount of time and was at a much higher starting point than most girls and women diagnosed with anorexia proved irrelevant in a diagnosis.  This is crucial only in that an anorexia diagnosis commands more respect and action from health insurance companies than a diagnosis of bulimia or ED-NOS, even if the latter disorders pose just as grave and deadly a risk.  Read more about the organization’s current goals and initiatives here.

The website also gives sample meal plans for people learning how to eat healthily and normally again and offers “INspirational” images of women of all body shapes who have achieved notable success.  Tips for avoiding relapse are also given, along with anti-binge strategies. In recovery?  Make a list of recovery projects and goals to help you through it or read tips on how to help loved ones struggling with an eating disorder.  Seriously, I just can’t gush enough about The Joy Project.  Go check it out.

* Taken from “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family” 1999, Kelcy Press

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Mental Health, Non-profits, Purging Disorder, Recovery | 14 Comments

8th June 2009

Dear Deborah Coddington: Just shut up, period.

by Rachel

I had planned on diving in to my inbox with gusto and not emerging until I was at least below 500 emails, but then I read via Big Fat Deal the latest weight-loss insanity to come from new Zealand.  New Zealand Herald columnist Deborah Coddington — who is apparently not only prejudiced against Asian people, but also fat people — argues that we should publicly shame “over-fat” people because if Jewish prisoners in Nazi death camps can get thin, then fat folk have simply no excuse.  Yes, really.  I can’t make this kind of degree of offensive ridiculousness up.

Coddington doesn’t herself explicitly make the emaciated Holocaust victim/modern day fat person analogy; she chooses instead to hide behind the words of two others who’ve pointed it out in the past, both of whom were roundly condemned for it.  But she does agree that each are “correct” in their assertions and goes on to use the fact that Jewish people (and gypsies and gay people) were starved, overworked and subjected to inhumane and brutally cruel conditions to the point of death in perhaps the largest and most evil act of genocide the world has ever seen as some sort of inane justification for the public shaming and blaming of fat people.  She writes:

Look what we do to smokers. We treat them like lepers, forcing them out into the street, away from bars and restaurants. Two decades ago it was acceptable to smoke on planes, in offices and pubs. Now everywhere is proudly a smokefree environment…  If it’s acceptable to shame and sin tax anyone addicted to nicotine and alcohol, why not do the same to those addicted to food?

Over-fat people eat too much for numerous reasons. They’re unhappy, unloved, lazy, don’t care, love food, are weak-willed, can’t cook properly, but they’re not obese for cultural reasons, or because they’re big-boned, have hormone problems, or other “it’s not my fault” excuses. Thankfully, we all come in different sizes – large, petite, slim, solid – but basically obesity is caused by eating too much food…  But molly-coddling won’t help. Tough love works with treating other addictions – we should use it on food addictions.

Let’s set aside for a moment the appalling abhorrence of Coddington’s commentary to the ancestors of those who died in the camps and indeed to all of humanity itself, as well as the fact that obesity is not an eating disorder and that not all fat people have disordered relationships with food, are a drain in national resources or lead miserable, wretched lives.  There is a fundamental difference between vices like alcoholism and cigarette addiction and “food addictions” like bulimia and binge eating disorder: YOU DO NOT NEED ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES TO LIVE.  The emotional overeater or binge eater is tempted with relapse at every meal and every snack, making recovery a potentially lifelong battle simply to maintain.  These people do not deserve to be made into more of social pariahs than they already are and subjected to further humiliation and abuse; they deserve our empathy, kindness, understanding and support in overcoming their emotional problems and in leading happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

While I’m sure Deborah Coddington hopes in the black, shriveled up organ she calls a heart that anyone with a BMI above 25 would just go on and die already, public shame and ridicule of fat people and the increasing adulation of a skeletal thinness aesthetic are exactly among the chief reasons why people develop “food addictions” and why eating disorders are on the rise.  Monique pretty much sums up my thoughts on the whole matter:

Yes, people in concentration camps were thin. Because they were being starved and worked TO DEATH. That is not hyperbole. THEY FUCKING DIED.

And of course it is possible for we fat people to be thin if we starve ourselves to the point of malnutrition and death. This of course runs counter to every biological imperative, every shred of human decency, and every iota of self-preservation we might have. Because, uh, we are not prisoners of the fucking Nazis. And yet according to Coddington, this self-starvation is desirable because she finds fat people in need of “tough love.”

Oh my god, fuck you, lady.

Make that a second fuck you, Deborah Coddington.  During my eating disorder, I read somewhere that the Jewish prisoners in the ghettos ate, on average, 800 calories a day.  That number instantly became my maximum daily caloric limit, progressively dropping lower and lower until it finally became nothing, nada.  Deborah Coddington would have been proud: I lost the weight.  In the course of one year, my BMI plummeted from the morbidly “obese” range of the BMI scale to the lower- to mid-range of “normal weight”; I went from a U.S. size 26 to a size 4.  I also developed a heart condition, became dangerously depressed, twice attempted suicide, lost some of my hair, destroyed my metabolism, was fired from my job, alienated friends and family, racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills and debt and overall, forfeited three years of my life I can never reclaim.  Deborah Coddington’s call for a “tough love” approach to fat people is no less than a call for the social cleansing of them.

Folks, personal blogs are open game for any wingnut extremist to post uneducated and bigoted ramblings, but we shouldn’t tolerate this sort of patent discrimination in a mainstream newspaper that supposedly practices ethical journalism.  I urge you to make your voices heard: Send a letter to the editor of the New Zealand Herald here; contact APN News & Media, publisher of the New Zealand Herald, here; post a comment to the article here (registration required); or spread word of the outrage on your own blog and/or on messageboards and social media sites.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Fat Bias, Race Issues | 29 Comments

29th May 2009

Win it: “disFIGURED”

by Rachel

Today is my first day of a weeklong furcation (this is what we journalists are calling our furloughs so as to ease the reality of a week off with no pay) and after Wednesday’s post about the trainwreck that is MeMe Roth, I feel the compelling need to light some virtual incense and salt the blog’s doors and windowsills.  And what better way to clear the air than with a giveaway!  Director Glenn Gers was kind enough to send me a copy of his new film disFigured after it came out.  He had previously sent me an advance review copy, so I’m offering the new still-shrinkwrapped copy to one lucky reader here.  You can read my review of disFIGURED here and an interview with Gers here.  Men-in-Full also has a great review here.

Interested?  Leave a comment to this post letting me know you’d like to win by midnight (EST) Sunday, May 31. The winner will be picked randomly and announced on Monday.  He/she must reside in the U.S. or Canada for free shipping — international folks can enter, but I’m asking that you subsidize shipping costs beyond what I would pay to ship to Canada — and needs to provide a mailing address by email.   Good luck!

posted in Anorexia, Arts and Music, Binge Eating Disorder, Contests | 85 Comments

14th May 2009

If they only had a brain

by Rachel

Lucy Aphramor, a dietitian, researcher and co-founder of HAES UK, has a great story out in The Guardian this week about why Health at Every Size is the most effective and logical health approach available.    I made the mistake of reading some of the comments, which, of course, bemoan how defeatist HAES is and insist that all one has to do to lose weight is “eat less, move more.”  I think that anyone who trots out this tired old equation has A) never struggled with their weight; or B) are in their first weeks, months or year following a weight loss.

The equation of calories in/calories burned has its place in weight management, sure, but that it represents the end-all-be-all to weight loss seems ridiculously Pollyanna’ish in light of the overwhelming and complex evidence that has come to light about genetics and the way our bodies metabolize food, as well as the physiological ways in which different foods affect our brain’s neurochemistry.  Also revealed are the true priorities of those opposed to HAES when all that is removed from an otherwise holistic approach to good health is the goal of weight loss.  As a recent Associated Press/i-Village study reveals, is our weight-loss obsession stirred by a concern for health or for a beach-ready bikini body, health be damned?

Several reports from the past few weeks highlight some of the unwitting ways in which our brains play a role in our weight:

  • A report in the health journal Obesity suggests that public health campaigns do more harm than good.  The research shows that public service announcements designed to encourage overeaters to abstain from sweet and fatty foods and get more exercise may actually inspire people to indulge even more.
  • Another study conducted at the Oregon Research Institute should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever opted for celery over chocolate.  The research suggests that people who eat low-fat and low-calorie foods experience less of a “reward” than if they ate the full-fat or higher-calorie alternative.  Even before consumption,  the simple fact of “knowing” the food to be low-fat removed much of the pleasure from the experience  ““This study shows that it may not be such a good idea to have all those low-fat alternatives since people may be experiencing less of a sense of reward when they eat – and that would make these low-calorie foods completely useless,” said senior researcher Eric Stice.
  • In a separate study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders, Stice’s group examined the brain chemistry of emotional eaters versus non-emotional eaters.  Emotional eaters showed a higher level of activity in their brains’ reward centers in response to eating than observed in the control group.
  • A similar study by the California Institute of Technology found significant differences in the brain activity between people who had self-control in making food choices and people who lacked self-control.  The research showed that an area of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) behaves differently in people with no self-control.
  • Former FDA commissioner David Kessler appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday to talk about his new book, The End of Overeating. Kessler came off as a real food-killjoy overall, but he nonetheless raised important points about the ways in which sugar, salt and fat affect our brain’s neurochemistry, and how Big Food is using that technology to keep us coming back for more.  It sounds as if Kessler’s book talks about the same kinds of thing Linda Bacon also discusses in Health at Every Size, but with a decidedly greater fat-shaming slant.

Normally I’d be excited at these findings, for they show just how complex and organic the factors that affect our weights to be, but sadly, I foresee that instead of showing respect for the awesome ways in which our brains work, they’ll just be used in ways designed to circumvent centuries of evolution.  Case in point: A 230-pound mother of two underwent brain surgery this March as part of a federally-approved study when even stomach stapling failed to produce desired weight-loss results.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, ED-NOS, Fat Bias, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, New Research | 10 Comments

1st May 2009

Monica Seles shares battles with binge eating disorder

by Rachel

Tennis star Monica Seles has a new memoir out in which she discusses her nine-year struggle with binge eating disorder.   In “Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self,” Seles describes how her disorder developed after a bizarre stabbing in 1993 forced her to leave the game for good.  She gained 20 pounds while recovering and received lots of scrutiny about her body, including pressure from trainers and nutritionists to lose weight.  Then her father died, and she found comfort in food, gaining another 20 or so pounds.  The New York Times has an interview with Seles about her battles here.  Some highlights on her recovery:

My big “Wow” moment came when I looked at myself and thought, “You tried to look for answers on the outside. You hired the best trainers. You could buy yourself all these books. You know what you need to do, but you can’t do it because your emotions are so wacked.” I realized I needed to figure out my emotions.

I had to throw out the word diet. I love food. That’s who I am. I enjoy a good meal. I’ve got to accept who I am. I’ve had enough of people telling me what to do. I had to do this one thing for myself, not for my mother, for the media or for my career.

I threw out every single diet notion I’d learned. I allowed myself to eat every single food group. My extreme cravings went away. I allowed myself to have cookies or pasta. I stopped dieting and I started living life. That’s how I lost 37 pounds.

…I needed to stop my love-hate relationship with food and just have a love relationship with it. After that I could have a love relationship with my body. Food is something I enjoy. I don’t beat myself up over it.

Check out Monica’s new book here.  For more on binge eating disorder, go to BEDA Online.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Book Reviews, Eating Disorders, Recovery | 9 Comments

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