May 25, 2014

Listen to Your Body. (Source: nationaleatingdisorders.org)

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:12 pm by kellyfdennis

20140525-181723-65843226.jpgSearching for the perfect diet? Always worrying about counting calories and fat grams in order to control your weight can be difficult and tiresome. Is there really a “perfect diet” out there anyway? After all, 95% of attempts to diet fail not because there’s something wrong with you, but because diets don’t work. Why else would people have to keep searching for new ones all of the time?
When was the last time you truly had fun dieting? Most likely you won’t remember it as a pleasurable experience. After all, it doesn’t feel so great to get hungry for lunch but force yourself to wait an extra hour. Do you remember feeling irritable? Did you get a headache or feel your stomach growling? And didn’t those “forbidden” or “off limits” foods seem to be calling your name even more than usual? It’s not very much fun, is it?
The reason strict diets don’t work and aren’t much fun is because your body needs food for energy, just like a car needs gas to drive. Food is fuel for your body! Your body knows what it needs in order to keep running efficiently—it needs the fuel of vitamin and nutrient-rich foods from a variety of food groups. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body and respond to its natural hunger. It will tell you what it needs. And if you don’t listen, it will find ways to keep reminding you—like headaches, a growling stomach, and obsessing about food.
Three Keys to Listening to Your Body
The first key to listening to your body is being able to detect when you are getting hungry. If you are indeed truly hungry, and not just looking for food to cure your boredom, stress, or loneliness, then it is time to refuel.
The second key is being able to know when you have had enough. Listen to your body. When you begin to feel full, you will know that you have had enough to eat. The goal is to feel content—not uncomfortably stuffed but not starving either. For some people this means planning 5 or 6 smaller, well-balanced meals a day instead of 3 large meals. And remember, it takes about 20 minutes for your body to realize it’s full. Be aware of what you are eating—eat sitting down, chew slowly, enjoy the tastes, smells, and textures of your food. Learn about mindful or intuitive eating.
The third key is moderation, nothing to extremes. Often people hear this advice and think it means they can eat whatever they crave, all the time. Obviously we cannot survive on potato chips or peanut butter cookies alone. And if you tried, chances are you’d probably start to crave a balanced meal or fresh fruit or vegetables after awhile. These cravings are your body’s way of helping you get the nutrients it knows you need.
Eat what you want, when you are truly hungry. Stop when you’re full. And eat exactly what appeals to you. Do this instead of any diet, and you’re likely to maintain a healthy weight and avoid eating disorders.

May 22, 2014

The Numbers Game

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 11:33 am by kellyfdennis

numeral-background-10088353Do you play the numbers game? Do you look to see how many fat grams are in the food you eat, or how many carbs, serving sizes, jean sizes, number of time you eat in a day, the number on the scale? Have you gotten so trapped in your “system” that you’ve lost track of how to listen to your body? If you have an eating disorder, the answer is probably “yes”.

Donna from The Begin Within Blog writes: “Numbers are a dishonest, fabricated replacement for intuitiveness. They are arbitrary, counterfeit ways of feeling in control. They are useless. They render you powerless, NOT powerful. They don’t give you control over anything. They merely give you the illusion of control and disable your inner means of determining your needs. Why are you afraid to give them up? Most likely because you distrust yourself, yet you ARE the best, most trustworthy determinant of what you need. Perhaps society has influenced you. Perhaps you have heard of, or embarked on numerous diet plans that are based on numbers. Perhaps you have been made to feel that you are GOOD when you are following numbers, and BAD when you aren’t.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Numbers seems so concrete, yet playing the numbers game, just makes your thinking even more disordered. When you find yourself playing the numbers game, ask yourself what you really need right now, what you crave, your level of hunger. Then begin to make small changes to allow you to trust yourself and your ability to make good choices. Believe it or not, there is freedom in separating yourself from the numbers game.

 

May 15, 2014

Midlife Eating Disorders Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:42 pm by kellyfdennis

This is the second part of the guest blogger’s post about her journey through a midlife eating disorder. She continues:

“It took another crisis as an adult to make me seek therapy with the gentle nudge of my dietitian through my bariatric office. My dietitian was there to listen to what was going on with my entire life and realized that my issues were beyond her scope of expertise. Timing is everything. I was hooked almost from the first telephone call to my psychotherapist. She answered the call personally and we set up an appointment rather quickly. I tend to be an immediate gratification kind of gal, so this had worked well for me. I have to say that I have gotten much better in that respect through my therapy work.

My therapist specializes in women’s issues, anxiety, childhood abuse, and eating disorders. She helped me identify many issues that needed addressing. I was surprised where the path of therapy lead us. Before we were able to address the eating disorder, we had to unravel the underlining issues. Just what was I covering up with that emotional blanket? As a survivor of incest, there was much to uncover. It was an intense process. The therapeutic process is not as easily measured such as weight loss. However, moving forward, twisting and turning on that path and even slipping backwards from time to time has proven far more rewarding. A positive therapist/client relationship that provides a safe place to do the tough work is vital to success.

Once we were able to process forward with some of the core issues, we were able to address the eating disorder more head on. Purging through exercise was one of our first eating disorder battles. I would spend an unhealthy amount of time exercising and/or restricting my nutritional intake. I had been successful in losing the weight, there was no way that I was going to allow myself to slip and gain back the weight at any cost.

Early in therapy, I learned how to feel. Sounds silly to have to learn how to feel at the age of forty-three.   In fact, I had used food to numb myself from truly feeling anything. Before my weight loss, by over-eating. After my weight loss, by restricting and over-compulsive exercise. It continues to be an on-going battle for me. Eating disorders are difficult. It takes practice to learn the new behaviors. To view food as energy to fuel our bodies. Depriving ourselves the basic nutrients required daily, affects our body and mind and soul.

In essence, that is my story. I continue to look at a plate of food and can cry. I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to gain weight. I have something to control by restricting or exercising four – six hours a day. However, I have asked for help and at the moment can say that I follow a prescribed nutritional plan of a required amount of food experiences a day. After having physical activity removed from life at times because I could not be trusted not to over-do, I (when not plagued with injury) am able to follow a prescribed exercise plan as well.

The loneliness that I spoke of earlier is real. There are many of women my age dealing with the same eating disorder issues as I do daily. The problem is that there is still much stigma attached to eating disorders. It is a common belief that it is one’s choice to “partake” in an eating disorder. As well, the first thing that typically comes to mind when one hears the phrases eating disorder, anorexia, etc., is a teenage girl. Whereas, men and women, boys and girls across the age and race spectrum are all susceptible to the struggles of an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not discerning. If we as a society, could accept that this is a mental illness that effects anyone, it wouldn’t appear to be such a lonely place to find oneself.

I have found that a support group for middle-age women dealing with eating disorders are nearly non-existent. I have a strong support system of family and friends, yet I know few people, especially my age, to whom I can connect. Life experiences play an important factor in one’s healing. Participating in a group with teenage/college age girls when you are forty-five years old, would most likely negate the therapeutic value of the group.

So loneliness in this struggle will continue. However, I am blessed with a supportive team to help me heal… My broad goal is recovery. My more immediate goal is to not restrict my food intake as a means to lose weight. I only have one body… I need to learn to take care of it and to remind myself that I began this journey to become healthy!”

Midlife Eating Disorders Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:40 pm by kellyfdennis

The diagnosis of midlife eating disorders is increasing. When we think of the term Eating Disorder, some think of a white, middle class adolescent girl. The reality is that eating disorders are a mental illness that can affect anyone across any culture, race or socioeconomic background. Today’s blog post is from a guest blogger who underwent bariatric surgery and developed a dangerous over restrictive style of eating. Recent literature suggests that about 1.5% of bariatric patients will experience this phenomenon, some meeting the full clinical criteria for Anorexia Nervosa. This individual shares her journey through a midlife eating disorder. Perhaps her words will speak to some of you. She writes:

“The journey through an eating disorder is an evolving process of twists and turns leading to the ultimate goal of recovery. I have found as a woman in her forties the process is a lonely journey. It is lonely in the respect that those in my immediate circle aren’t confronted with food in the same fashion as someone struggling with an eating disorder. Nor are they in a place of acknowledgement that food has an important role/control of their life.

I would like to credit my decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery four years ago as the beginning of my eating disorder; when in reality bariatric surgery was yet another twist in the journey. In fact, the journey began as far back in my early childhood that I can recall. From my earliest recollection, food was used as a bribe for desired behaviors from my parents. It was used as an emotional blanket to deal with the trauma of an abusive childhood. Food became my catalyst to deal with the full gamut of emotions, from happy to sad and all in between.

As a result, my relationship with food was never healthy. Food was my crutch not a means to provide energy to my body. Another result from such an unhealthy relationship was my ever fluctuating weight, albeit, I was always on the heavier side. If I had been successful in losing weight it would be a short-lived success as I would inevitably regain the weight.

Fast forward to adulthood, my relationship with food remained emotionally and physically life threatening. Reaching the staggering high of 350 pounds after the birth of my third child. I was a rather active busy mom living my life through the trials and tribulations as an obese mother. It was difficult accomplishing even the simplest of tasks such as tying my toddler’s shoes. I had heard about bariatric surgery and contemplated the process many times as an adult. I was leery about the mortality rate that was associated with the surgery in its early days. As bariatric surgery was becoming more mainstream and less frightening, I began investigating the possibility. Even though there is an inherent risk with any surgery, I was satisfied that the risk no longer out-weighed the benefits. I had reached the stage of fear that my weight would end my life prematurely. I needed to do something radical to ensure that I would be alive for my supportive husband and three young daughters.

So I began the bariatric process. It started with an on-line survey to be invited to the first informational seminar. I went to the first session alone. It was very upbeat and made one hopeful. The comprehensive team of dietitians and nurses accompanied the surgeon as the program was explained. There was friendliness. There was a confidence amongst the team that wooed. The following nine months was laden with blood work, cardiology approval, bariatric nutrition classes, an appointment with a psychologist, a sleep apnea work up, the required minimum of ten pounds lost and on-going visits with the bariatric team. I have since come to realize that there was one additional component that was missing for anyone to be truly successful in the bariatric process. It is my opinion that one should undergo intensive psychotherapy pre-surgery to prepare you for all that will come post-surgery.  At the end of the insurance imposed mandated nine month waiting period, I underwent my transformation with bariatric surgery.

I was a text book successful bariatric patient. I had actually lost eighty pounds pre-surgery and began working out day one of my journey. My then personal trainer, now good friend, and I often recall that it was a success to stay on the elliptical exercise machine for three minutes. Within in the first year of my bariatric surgery, I had lost an additional 100 pounds. I spent my days and nights consumed with the need to exercise and to follow the bariatric diet near flawlessly. My obsession to become healthy very soon became unhealthy.”

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