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Eating Disorders Blog

Young Adult Novel Addresses Bulimia Treatment

A new novel call Purge has been published by a Connecticut-based writer name Sarah Durer Littman. The novel, told in the first person in the format of a journal, is the story of Janie Ryan. Janie is a 16-year-old bulimic and the novel relates her experiences while receiving treatment at a fictional residential treatment facility called Golden Slopes. Janie's journal reveals the traumatic events that led to her development of an eating disorder, and how she developed bulimia as a sort of coping mechanism.

Littman comments about her novel's protagonist: "She is very much in denial of the disease and sort of has the attitude that this isn't a disease, it's a diet strategy. It's really about her growing realization and recognition of the fact that yes, she does have a condition that needs treatment and also her awareness of why she's doing what she's doing."

The novel is the product of Littman's real-life struggles with anorexia (as a teen) and bulimia (as an adult). The idea for the novel came to Littman while she was attending a writer's retreat in Vermont. In preparation for the novel, Ms. Littman asked her mother to send her some of her childhood pictures. She comments on looking at a picture of herself at age 15: "I looked at it, and I was like 'Wow, I actually had a pretty good figure,' but what made me really sad about the picture is that I remember how I felt at the time, which was fat and ugly."

Ms. Littman speaks about her motivation for the novel: "I want people to feel hopeful. I wanted to show them that they can overcome eating disorders, if they go through the proper therapy and build a support system. ... Hopefully the book will help to raise awareness and to generate a discussion about body image and eating disorders and the pressures on both young women and men."


Labels: eating disorder, bulimia, books

Posted By: Jane St. Clair 1 Comment

Possible Genetic Link Between Anorexia and Autism

Researchers at the Maudsley Hospital in London are exploring a theory that anorexia may not be a social or psychological phenomenon, but a genetic one. The London scientists have been studying autism and anorexia for several years, examining what the two disorders have in common. Although autism and anorexia appear very different on the surface - patients with autism struggle to connect with people in the outside world while anorexics are obsessed with other people's perceptions of them - the minds at Maudsley Hospital have identified some compelling similarities between the two conditions. For instance, both anorexics and autistic individuals exhibit obsessive behaviors and rigid thinking; tic disorders are fairly common among individuals in both populations; and both have trouble dealing with change. Researchers at Maudsley also found that 15 to 20 percent of anorexic patients may also have Asperger's syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.


Labels: eating disorder, anorexia, autism

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Psychologist's Book Addresses Binge Eating

Clinical psychologist Cynthia Bulik is the director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She recently released a new book, Crave, about binge eating and how to conquer food cravings.

"It is my mission to inform as many people as possible about the dangers of binge eating, to help those who already feel trapped to escape, and to prevent others from falling into the dangerous cycle of binge eating. Be it prevention or treatment, success is my ultimate goal."

During her studies at the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Bulik noticed a consistent connection between eating disorders and depression. Her research has led her to develop tools aimed at helping patients curb their cravings, and she's seen excellent results. She calls her approach, which she explains in the book, as "down to earth, user friendly, and very practical." Source: Good Morning America

Labels: binge-eating, treatment, cravings

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 0 Comments

Adult History of Anorexia Linked to Psychiatric Disorders

A globally significant study, which began in 1985, concerning the behavior of teenagers suffering from anorexia nervosa has been published in both the British Journal of Psychiatry and the International Journal of Eating Disorders. This is the only study of its kind and has provided valuable information to compare against widely accepted statistics about anorexia nervosa.

Elizabeth Wentz, Associate Professor in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Sahlgrenska Academy, comments, "This study is unique in an international perspective. It is the only study in the world that reflects the natural course of anorexia nervosa in the population."

The results show that 39 percent of the study group "have at least one other psychiatric disorder, in addition to the eating disorder. The most common of these is obsessive compulsive disorder." This study contrasts with the accepted fatality rate of 1 in 5 for anorexics, as not a single test subject in this study has died.

One encouraging finding that emerged from the study related to pregnancy of the test subjects. Because infertility is a commonly accepted side effect of anorexia nervosa, it is surprising that there was no difference in the number of births between the test group and the control group. Childbirth also appeared to have a routinely positive influence on anorexics.


Labels: anorexia, mental-illness

Posted By: Contributor 0 Comments

Bullying Linked to Eating Disorders

According to a new study, bullying may be a significant factor in eating disorders. Beat, a charity that works with eating disorder sufferers in the United Kingdom, conducted the study.

Of the 600 young people with eating disorders who were surveyed, 91 percent reported being the victim of bullying, and 46 percent felt that it contributed to their development of an eating disorder. About half of the respondents reported being bullied for a period of two to five years, while 11 percent reported being bullied for six years or more.

Beat chief executive Susan Ringwood commented on the results of the study: "Bullying undermines young peoples' self-confidence and lowers their self-esteem, raising the risk of eating disorders. Eating disorders are complex with no single cause but bullying is a significant factor for too many people."

One 23-year-old man who responded to the survey recalled his experiences as a victim of bullying and, eventually, an eating disorder sufferer: "I only had one friend in high school, but even he bullied me when the others were around. A lot of my classmates didn't want to associate with me in case they got picked on too. As the bullying grew worse and more kids joined in, I would run out of lessons to escape the abuse.

"I hid in the boy's toilets where I knew I wouldn't be found. There I would comfort eat to ease the tension and anxiety that had built up inside me throughout the day and I began to make myself sick. Over time, it developed into bulimia and it took me many years to recover."

Beat is calling for additional research into the relationship between bullying and eating disorders. According to Beat, approximately 1.6 million people in the United Kingdom suffer from eating disorders.


Labels: bulimia, bullying

Posted By: Staff Writer 1 Comment

Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Goes Too Far

At a time when obesity is a skyrocketing problem in the United States, some experts are seeing a backlash of eating disorders. Orthorexia, which is considered a type of anorexia, involves an obsessive fixation with eating only healthy foods. Orthorexia is a term coined by Dr. Steven Bratman to describe this condition; however, orthorexia is not an officially recognized clinical eating disorder.

Orthorexics gradually eliminate more and more types of foods from their diets and generally begin to fixate on a very limited diet. In some extreme cases, orthorexics become full-blown anorexics because they can't find food "clean" enough or "healthy" enough to satisfy their compulsion, and so their caloric intake becomes severely limited.

According to some experts, the connection between anorexia and orthorexia is a deep-seated fear of food. Anorexics fear food because they think it will make them fat, while orthorexics fear food because they think it will make them sick.

Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, a clinical psychologist and director of the eating disorders clinic at the University of Illinois at Chicago, commented: "While orthorexia begins with a desire to achieve better health, it's very connected to an underlying fear of food. If I believe the food will make me sick, I become afraid of it, and I avoid it and, bit by bit, continue to avoid more and more food types."

Orthorexics typically become so obsessed with consuming the "right" foods that other activities in their lives begin to suffer, such as their studies, careers and family life. This is the point where a lifestyle choice may cross the line into a mental health issue.

Linda Van Horn, a clinical nutrition epidemiologist at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, stated: "The fundamental issue [with orthorexia] is the obsessive-compulsive nature of food intake. Anything too extreme can be unhealthy."


Labels: anorexia, diet, orthorexia

Posted By: Eating Disorders Blog 1 Comment

School Uses Barbie to Teach Students About Media Impact on Self-Esteem

An editorial on the website of The Daily Oklahoman reported on efforts by the University of Oklahoma to use the image of a popular doll to raise awareness among both male and female students about the impact of media and consumer images on poor self-esteem and related issues:

Just after swiping your way into the Huston Huffman Center, you'll see a giant woman with breasts that seem larger than her 18-inch waist. The mannequin has the dimensions of a life-sized Barbie doll, decked in a lovely pink jacket and feet. This mannequin exemplifies many of the negative connotations that come from the objectification of women.

Barbie, in this instance, is a warning. Don't try to look like her. It's not healthy and is a "serious emotional and physical problem that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males," according to the National Eating Disorders Association. ...

However, this fails to look at both sides of the spectrum, because men are not represented. Men also are subjected to stereotypes and can suffer from eating and exercise disorders. Men do not need to look like Ken, a monster of muscles and objectification only surpassed in superficiality by his wondrously dim girlfriend. ...

Do not try to look like plastic dolls.

Labels: self-image, self-esteem

Posted By: Aspen/CRC 1 Comment

Genetics Play a Role in Eating Disorders

Anorexia nervosa is a deadly eating disorder. It has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

Historically, anorexia was believed to be induced by environmental factors such as home environment and social pressures. In the past few years, however, research has discovered that genetics play a significant role in the development of eating disorders. Experts currently estimate that 50 percent of the risk of developing an eating disorder is inherited.

In a recent story by a Denver-area news station, Dr. Ken Weiner said, "We know that there are multiple genes and they are closely related to anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. ... If your mother or your sister has anorexia and you are a young woman, you are 12 times more likely to have anorexia nervosa in your lifetime and four times more likely to have bulimia nervosa."

Dr. Weiner was careful to say, however, that genes alone are not enough to trigger an eating disorder. "Genes load the gun, life pulls the trigger. With anorexia nervosa, if you never go on a diet or precipitously lose weight due to a medical condition, you never develop anorexia nervosa."


Labels: eating disorder, anorexia, genetics

Posted By: Staff Writer 1 Comment

Hidden Ways Parents Contribute to Children's Self-Image Image Issues

Hailey is in fourth-grade. She’s happy, active… and worries about her weight. When asked, she admits she compares herself to her classmates, thinks she’s “a little chubby,” and needs to work out more.

“The 10-year-old girls is not alone, according to experts. A growing number of girls Hailey’s age, and even younger, worry about the way they look. ‘The bottom line is, it starts in the home and it starts at a very, very, very young age,’ said Sandee Nebel, a licensed mental health counselor specializing in eating disorders and body image.” [Source: WKMG-TV (Orlando, FL)]

Parents often don’t realize the message they’re sending to kids, and seemingly harmful words or actions can encourage low self-esteem and affect the way a child views others. Most parents know not to tease kids about their weight, appearance or eating habits.

But some may not realize that making negative comments about others is harmful, too. In addition, labeling foods as “good” or “bad” can also send the wrong message. Instead, parents should focus on healthy living, rather than size or weight.


Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

Children as Young as 10 Concerned about Body Image

Children as young as 10 years old are concerned with what constitutes the ideal body, according to a recent study that took place in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The study analyzed survey responses from more than 4,000 school-aged children. It determined that young girls' happiness was linked directly to how thin they were, while boys were happiest when they were neither too thin nor too heavy.

  • About 7 percent of girls reported that they didn't like the way they looked.
  • The percentage of girls who were unhappy with their looks increased proportionately as respondents' body mass index measurements increased. O
  • f girls with normal body weight, 5.7 percent didn't like the way they looked, versus 10.4 percent of overweight girls and 13.1 percent of obese girls.
  • Experts estimate that approximately 25 percent of Canadian children are now overweight or obese.


Labels: body image, kids

Posted By: Eating Disorders Blog 1 Comment