The physical side effects of a dysfunctional relationship with food are not unlike the environmental complications that have arisen from pollution in our world today. You may have trouble imagining your body as polluted, so do the following exercise using graphic pictures that depict the damage pollution is causing to the earth.
- Collect some magazines and make a collage of beautiful pictures of the earth; sky scenes, landscapes, seascapes. If you can’t find appropriate images, draw a picture in your journal of a beautiful world. This world represents the way God intended your body to be.
- After that, find pictures of the ravages of pollution. On the next page in your journal, draw or paste pictures of how pollution has harmed the world. These images represent how your eating behaviors have polluted your body. Be aware of your physical reactions to these different pictures. Does the beautiful scenery make you feel calm and peaceful? Does the polluted world give you feelings of sadness?
- At the bottom of each picture, write a brief description of how you feel about what you’re looking at. Just as the awareness of pollution’s dangers has caused people to repair the damage done to our earth, so also your own awareness of the real toll you are placing on your body can give you added motivation for discovering the source behind the pollution of your eating behaviors and putting an end to them. Looking at the picture of the world (my body) as God intended it makes me feel…. Looking at the picture of the world (my body) as it has been polluted makes me feel… Fill in those blanks and reflect on your feelings.
All your life you’ve heard the expression, “It’s never too late.” You need to believe that now. Yes, there has been damage done to your body, but that damage can be dealt with and, in most cases, reversed.
In the past, you have spent a good deal of time focusing on how your body looks from the outside. Now it’s time to look at your body from the inside. What is happening to you on the inside affects how you look on the outside. Your relationship with food has not brought you to the point of vibrant health. Instead, it is robbing you of your well-being, little by little.
Before, you were concerned only with the end result, attaining some sort of desired result. Now you need to be concerned with the means you are using to that end and the damage it is causing. To be thin is not necessarily to be healthy. To put on weight is not necessarily to be fat. Vibrant health is what you are striving for physically. Proper nutrition can aid your body in regaining the health of its systems.
Learn more about how nutrition can have an impact on your mental health.
If you or a loved one show signs of having an eating disorder, you may benefit from consulting an eating disorder specialist. Our team of eating disorder professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE focus on whole-person recovery, and take special care to understand the many aspects in a person’s life that may be contributing to their eating disorder. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to get more information or to speak with an eating disorder specialist today.
“Bill is such a great guy!” Carly smiled and made some sort of neutral comment. It did absolutely no good to dispute the evidence of Bill’s obvious charm. He was engaging, witty, energetic, and charismatic. People liked him. She knew the feeling.
When Carly first met Bill, she was overwhelmed by his outgoing nature. His gestures were larger than life, outlandish even. But to a young woman being courted, he seemed the walking incarnation of romance. She was being wooed. What Carly didn’t realize was that while she was being wooed by Bill, she and everyone else were being fooled. Bill’s grand gestured and protestations of care and love were for general audiences only. In the intimacy of the private viewing area called home, Bill turned out to be someone quite different.
At first, Carly just put up with Bill’s moodiness, nastiness, and withdrawing into himself. She figured he would snap out of it. It didn’t take her long to learn that Bill’s negative private behavior could turn in an instant if someone cam over to the apartment. Finally, she mentioned to Bill her concern over the way he treated her at home as opposed to the way he treated her in front of others.
Bill’s reaction was astonishment. He acted as if he had no idea what she was talking about. Every incident she brought up was countered with a rush of excuses, reasons and outright denials as Bill fought to maintain the illusion of himself as the compassionate lover, the life of the party, the perfect soul mate. It struck Carly that Bill needed her only as long as she continued to mirror the reflection of himself he so needed to see.
Illusionists are generally highly intelligent, charismatic people who thrive on being seen well by others. As long as there is an audience, they are “on.” Because it takes a great deal of energy to be “on,” their “off” persona may be the exact opposite. In public they are witty and humorous; in private they are sarcastic and cutting. In public they are deferential and attentive; in private they are hostile and distant. In public they are happy and easygoing; in private they are sullen and angry.
Being in a relationship with an illusionist can cause you to doubt your own judgment. Because illusionists are generally highly intelligent, they are able to convince you, even in the face of contrary evidence, that the concerns you have are invalid.
If there is a problem, you are always portrayed as the source. Feigning confusion, they appear shocked that you find their behavior unusual. If you ask other people, people who have seen only the carefully constructed illusion, you may not get validation of your concerns. Instead, you may hear a reiteration of how wonderful the illusionist is. Highly persuasive, the illusionist is very adept at creating and maintaining a positive image.
What is most important to illusionists is the maintenance of the illusion of who they are. You are valuable to them only when you are helping them to maintain this illusion. You become a danger to them if you question the illusion they have created. Because the illusion is more important to them than you are, the truth is never acknowledged. Your reality of events and circumstances is consistently denied, downplayed, explained away, rejected. This is a pernicious form of emotional abuse in that it causes the abused to second-guess his or her own assessment of the relationship. As such, many will stay in the relationship for an extended period of time until their ability to help their abuser maintain the illusion demands too great an emotional toll.
At this point, the abused person will lean but with his or her sense of self seriously tattered. After all, how could anyone leave such a great person? Because others have not seen through this illusion, the abused person who leaves can appear to be in the wrong. Not only does the abused lose the relationship, be he or she may lose any friends made during the relationship.
If you or a loved one is struggling with emotional, sexual or physical abuse, or body image or other dependency issues, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 today and a specialist will answer any questions you might have.
It is important not only to eat healthy foods but to eat them in the proper proportion. As a unique individual, you have an amount of calories needed each day and a weight range that is healthy and right for you. I wholeheartedly encourage you to visit with your primary care physician or gynecologist, if you have not done so already, and determine what a healthy weight looks like for you.
Different women have different body types and frames, so two women of the same height arrive at different healthy weights. Many women are as cyclical with their weight as they are with their periods. They lose and gain the same ten to fifteen to twenty pounds over and over again. When the weight is off, they’re happy. When the weight is on, they’re miserable.
Because of the nature of yo-yo dieting, the tendency over time is for the weight to come back on, stay on, and increase. As you work with your doctor to find your healthy weight, come up with a plan to not only achieve that weight but also maintain it over time.
Additionally, how you feel and the health of your body depends not only on what you eat but also what else you put into your body. If you are a smoker, I urge you to quit. Pumping nicotine into your system and smoke into your lungs is not good for you. The evidence of the damage done, apart from the dangers of lung cancer, is compelling. Smoking is an age accelerant, as its toxicity contributes to a more rapid decline of the body and overall health. If you smoke, you need to stop. This is also a conversation for you to have with your physician.
Be aware of the preservatives, additives, and hormones used in the foods you eat and drinks you consume. Many women have sensitivities and allergic reactions to these substances. Whenever possible, choose organic-type produce and foods. There are medical tests you can take that can help identify if your body is experiencing an ongoing allergic reaction to foods and other substances. If you suspect you are allergic to a certain food, eliminate it from your diet for a period of time and track your symptoms. When your body is under constant assault because of a sensitivity or allergic response, it will affect how you feel.
Be aware of the amount of alcohol you consume. As a chemical dependency professional, as well as a licensed counselor, I’ve seen the hard alcohol causes. If you have a problem with alcohol, don’t drink at all. If you don’t have a problem with alcohol, make sure to drink moderately. Not only do you need to be aware of the alcohol you are consuming, you need to also be aware of the extra calories in that alcohol. The more you drink, the more you impact the amount of calories consumed each day.
Lastly, be aware of the type and quantity of drugs you take. These include, of course, over-the-counter, prescription, and illicit drugs. If you are concerned about what you’re taking and how much, consider having a chemical dependency assessment done. These assessments factor in both legal and illegal substances and evaluate your level of dependency and abuse. If you’re worried or if family and friends have expressed their concern, if your use has interfered with your job or with social and family functions, I urge you to seek professional advice and assessment.
Please be aware that use and misuse of drugs is one strategy women use to self-medicate their feelings of anger. Because the anger is suppressed and not dealt with, it doesn’t go away. Because the anger doesn’t go away, the need for self-medicating doesn’t go away, and use can change to abuse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with body image or other dependency issues, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you soon.
Your body is paying a heavy price for your eating disorder. If you are bulimic and use laxatives or vomiting to purge, your skin is probably quite dry and frequently breaks out in small rashes and pimples. If your salivary glands haven’t yet become enlarged because of your constant vomiting, they could.
If you’re bulimic or anorexic, you probably experience continual constipation and intestinal bloating because you either don’t keep down enough food to pass through your system or simply don’t eat enough to trigger elimination. You may also have swollen, puffy hands and feet brought about by an electrolyte imbalance. For anorexics, this is because of malnutrition; for bulimics, vomiting or laxative abuse. If you compulsively overeat, your extra weight is putting a strain on nearly all your body’s systems and setting you up for future health problems. These are not easy things to say or read, but you need to know the truth.
Your eating disorder today will affect your body tomorrow. One such effect is the slowing down of your metabolism. You have a unique metabolic rate that has become unbalanced by your lifestyle choices. Down the road, this can result in weight problems years after your eating disorder has been overcome. Your body can readjust itself in time, but the longer you continue in this destructive behavior, the more difficult it will be for your body to reestablish its proper functions.
If you are an anorexic woman, your self-starvation will lead to a complete loss of your menstrual period, if it hasn’t already. Rigorous exercise, emotional ups and downs, even bingeing and purging can also shut down your body’s reproductive systems. It knows something is wrong, even if you don’t, and it’s not about to take any chances with pregnancy. With menstrual loss comes estrogen loss, resulting in loss of calcium to your bones. Too much calcium loss can result in osteoporosis, or brittle-bone disease, later in life. Many young anorexia develop the bones of an eighty- or ninety-year-old.
If you’re bulimic, the bitter acid from gastric juices washes over your teeth when you vomit and destroys enamel that can never be replaced. If you continue your eating habits long enough, your teeth will be irreparably damaged and will require either caps or replacement by dentures. What teeth you retain will be more susceptible to cavities because of weakened enamel.
If you use laxatives to purge, either exclusively or in addition to vomiting, there is added damage to your digestive system and bowels. If your body hasn’t had to work at passing food through your system for a number of years, it has become lazy, and you’ll need bulk lubricants to aid in having bowel movements.
If you are anorexic and are denying your body the life-sustaining nutrients it needs, your body will begin to turn on you. It will feed on itself in order to survive. When fat is no longer available, your body will begin to digest its own muscle tissue. Since your heart is a muscle, damage to this organ can become irreparable, even fatal. Your hair will thin and fall out.
Your eating disorder is putting an enormous stress on your body. Stress has been shown to have far-reaching effects, contributing to cancer and heart disease.
These symptoms may sound severe and fear based, but they are the harsh reality of eating disorders. Even if you can’t observe these symptoms just yet, consistent disordered eating patters will result in the issues listed above.
In light of these facts, it is vitally important that you begin to work on the reasons why you’re engaging in this destructive behavior and begin to treat its physical effects. This is important not only for today but also for your tomorrow. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is standing by to help you. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with an eating disorder specialist today.
Guest blog post contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Director @ Eating Disorder Hope, and Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President @ Eating Disorder Hope
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, it may be difficult or confusing to understand the many signs and symptoms that may be present. Though there are many stigmas surrounding eating disorders, these diseases should not be taken lightly. Eating disorders are severe mental health illnesses that are caused by complex factors, such as biological, psychological, and environmental reasons.
Many of the misconceptions about eating disorders concern the reasons why eating disorders develop. Unlike a diet fad or the latest dieting trend, eating disorders are mental illnesses characterized by abnormal eating patterns and disturbed eating behaviors. These disorders are not simply an attempt to “lose weight”, or a “disease of vanity”. Whether it is Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating Disorder, these psychiatric diseases develop and progress over time. To heal from an eating disorder, a professional treatment team is needed to address the many factors involved.
With over 20 million women and 10 million men suffering from eating disorders in the United States, it is important to understand the signs that someone might be at risk for developing an eating disorder. Identifying these diseases as early as possible improves the chances for interventions and treatment outcomes. Thankfully, treatment methods are improving as eating disorders are better understood by researchers and health care professionals. While it may feel daunting to face the fact that you or someone you love has an eating disorder, recognizing what you are struggling with will only help the recovery process.
Given the complexity of eating disorders, it is critical to be aware of the different ways symptoms may appear. Eating disorders impact a person’s physical health, emotional well-being, relationships, finances, and more. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder, look for these signs and symptoms:
- Abnormal food behaviors, rituals, or eating patterns, such as eating unusual portion sizes, cutting food into tiny pieces, hiding food, or purposely eating alone.
- Fixation with food, weight loss, and/or body image
- Obsession with counting calories, fat grams, nutrient content of foods, etc
- Heighted depression, lethargy, and/or anxiety
- Withdrawal from relationships, social functions, family, and friends
- Severely restricting caloric intake, resulting in unstable weight loss
- Intense fear of eating and/or weight gain
- Episodes of bingeing on a very large amount of food, followed by purging
- Feelings of guilt or shame in regards to eating or body image
- Feeling out of control while eating
While these symptoms may indicate that an eating disorder is developing, it is necessary to see a qualified health professional for a full assessment and diagnosis. If you are struggling with any of the above symptoms, it is important that you seek the help and guidance of a medical professional. Your life is valuable, and recovery from an eating disorder is possible, no matter what has brought you to this point in your journey. Though it may be scary to reach out and ask for the help you need, you are taking the most vital step in reclaiming your life and finding freedom from an eating disorder.