Eating Disorders Articles

With Obesity, A New Disease is Born: Its Profound Implications for Psychiatry

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

With Obesity, A New Disease is Born: Its Profound Implications for PsychiatryA new disease was discovered the other day — or rather, one was created.

There is no “lab test” for this disease, nor is there an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan that can detect it. It is diagnosed on the basis of a mathematical formula that many believe is simplistic and poorly-validated.

Sometimes this “disease” results in metabolic abnormalities, sometimes not.

Many clinicians view the decision to recognize this disease as another example of “medicalizing” a problem stemming from the person’s “life-style” — not from a specific pathological process. In fact, the declaration that this condition is a “disease” was the result of a vote among a group of doctors at a medical meeting in Chicago.

In effect, this condition became a disease through a show of hands.

Can We Stamp Out Thinspiration on Twitter? Torri Singer Thinks We Can

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Can We Stamp Out Thinspiration on Twitter? Torri Singer Thinks We CanPro-anorexia (or “pro-ana”) groups have been around online for over a decade, and we first discussed them here five years ago. More recently, with the rise of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, these groups have found a new life. Often associated with the label “thinspiration,” these groups elevate the idea of being thin to a virtual religion.

People who are all about thinspiration engage in disordered eating in order to be as thin as possible — a common symptom of anorexia. But they don’t see it as a disorder or a problem, making this an insidious problem.

Nonetheless, such eating and self-image problems can result in health problems, even putting the individual’s life at risk.

Some people have sought to get common words or terms that people engaged in thinspiration use banned from social networking websites. One such woman is Torri Singer, a broadcast journalism major who has recently begun a petition to get such terms banned from Twitter.

5 Ways to Help Your Kids Use Social Media Responsibly

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

5 Ways to Help Your Kids Use Social Media Responsibly “For most teens, the Internet is a fundamental part of life,” according to Dana Udall-Weiner, Ph.D, a psychologist who specializes in media literacy. It’s how they communicate and interact. Teens use social media sites like Facebook for everything from casual talks to breakups, she said.

With social media a major part of teens’ lives, it’s important they have a healthy relationship with the Internet. What does this look like?

According to Udall-Weiner, it resembles any healthy relationship: It has boundaries.

It also shouldn’t have to meet all their needs, including emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual, she said. For instance, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest should never replace face-to-face interactions, she said. Instead, they should supplement them. That’s because online interactions lack the emotional depth and support of real-time relationships. “…[I]t’s hard to know whether someone is trustworthy, loyal, and invested in your well-being.”

The No. 1 Obstacle to Weight Loss

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

The No. 1 Obstacle to Weight LossHave you tried to lose weight? 

More than one third of U.S. adults currently are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physicians and other health care professionals urge us to lose weight or risk becoming vulnerable to a host of diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Weight loss has become a national conversation.

On an individual basis, most of us either have tried to lose weight or are actively engaged in maintaining a healthy weight.  Why we struggle with weight and how best to lose weight are hotly debated topics.  The nation’s current weight struggles have been attributed to a range of biological, societal and personal problems such as unhealthy school lunches, media advertising, too much corn and corn syrup in our diets, sugar substitutes, lack of willpower, overreliance on fast and prepackaged foods and many more.

But what gets in the way of your ability to lose weight?

Do Fashion Magazines Make You Feel Fat?

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Do Fashion Magazines Make You Feel Fat?Want to feel better about your body?  Stop reading fashion magazines.

It’s the holidays.  Magazines focus on our waistlines and ways to survive the season while keeping a slender figure. I’m all for good health, but we’re frequently sold an image, product or diet that does not always result in good mental or physical health, particularly for women.

What’s your ideal weight?  In one alarming study, adolescent girls described their ideal girl as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing a mere 100 pounds.

This ideal is — at best — unhealthy and, for many, anorexic. 

The Secret & Silent Killer Behind Thinspiration

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

The Secret & Silent Killer Behind Thinspiration

Beautiful images of fashion, art, vacation destinations, and food: what’s not to love about Pinterest?

Well, after seeing several pins labeled “thinspiration,” displaying overly thin women and quotes like, “All I want is to be happy, confident, and skinny as hell,” I decided it was time to speak up.

The image in this post is of me, back in my modeling days. This photo was very popular with friends and family on Facebook and with my followers on a modeling website I was a member of at the time.

If Pinterest had been around back then, I definitely would have pinned it for all to see.

Some may look at this image and see a woman that offers “thinspiration,” but the truth is actually much darker.

Demi Lovato: A New Kind of Hollywood Role Model

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Demi Lovato: A New Kind of Hollywood Role ModelWho inspires you? Who do you admire as a role model? I’m sure a lot of those answers can be found within your close circle of friends and family, but of course, there are also those who can lift you up from afar.

It’s been hard in recent years to ignore young entertainers’ breakdowns, drug habits, and bad behavior. Demi Lovato, a 20-year-old singer/songwriter, actress, and newly appointed judge on the talent show “The X Factor,” has endured much internal struggle.

But she has courageously sought mental health assistance and boldly documented her journey to share with others for inspiration. Along with her “stay strong” motto, she’s demonstrated that obstacles can be overcome, which is what ultimately highlights her as a different type of role model.

Can You Decrease Belly Fat with Mindfulness?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Can You Decrease Belly Fat with Mindfulness?Did you know that our taste buds tire quickly? Yes, it’s true. If you’ve ever bitten into a piece of chocolate cake and found that first bite heavenly and then finished the cake barely noticing the taste of the final bite, then you’ve experienced tired taste buds.

Our taste buds are chemical sensors that pick up on taste acutely for the first few bites.  After eating a large amount, we may taste very little of what we’re eating.

So what does this have to do with belly fat and mindfulness?

According to clinical psychologist Jean Kristeller, PhD, president and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating, many of us are eating too often and too much.

Does Obesity Change Your Sense of Taste?

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Does Obesity Change Your Sense of Taste? How much do your taste buds have to do with your weight? Anything? Everything?

In a recent study researchers compared taste sensitivity in obese children and adolescents to that of healthy weight children and adolescents.  According to this study, taste sensitivity is linked to weight.

Children and adolescents who were obese had less sensitive taste buds.  That means for obese children sweet foods tasted less intensely sweet, bitter foods were milder and salt was not as readily perceived.

What do these differences in taste perception mean?

How to Curb Your Food Cravings

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

How to Curb Your Food CravingsToo many sweets can leave you wanting one thing:  more sweets.  Our food cravings, whether for salty, sweet or something else, when overindulged don’t result in satiety or satisfaction.  Instead they affect our bodies in the same way as alcohol or drugs, causing us to want more and more, while we experience less pleasure each time we give in.

Knowing that food cravings are much like other addictions can be disheartening and you might despair that you will not be able to make changes.

The good news is that there are several effective strategies to delay eating craved food and weaken your habitual response to food.

Want Better Health? Your Eating Environment Matters

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Want Better Health? Your Eating Environment MattersLast week, McDonald’s announcement that it will begin posting calorie counts on its menus caused an online buzz.  Reactions to the announcement ranged from support to dissent to the unconvinced.

Food choice, nutrition and diet have been growing topics hotly debated in the public arena.

But despite increased public awareness that food choice plays a vital role in health, most Americans continue to eat too few fruits, vegetables and whole grains (USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion).

Why is it So Hard to Curb Your Cravings?

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Why is it So Hard to Curb Your Cravings?What’s your weakness?

Is it cupcakes, potato chips, bread, a big bowl of pasta, cheese fondue, fried chicken, pizza, ice cream or something else?

Do you crave something creamy that melts in your mouth or a salty crunch that takes the edge off?

If you do, you’re similar to 100% of women and 75% of men who reported food cravings in the last year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Cravings, once considered the body’s way of signaling that we’re missing important nutrients, are now understood to be something quite different.  If they were merely a signal that we were short on, say, magnesium (a nutrient found in chocolate), then why do we tend to crave salty and sweet snacks, rather than healthier options of nutrient rich foods?

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