Don't Die For A Diet

When Would You Spot The Signs?
If you suspect your child is suffering from an eating disorder please check out this site that I came across today: Don't Die For A Diet.
"This site was created by a number of organizations, including AMV BBDO and Proximity London, in conjunction with beat.
It is designed to provide help and information for the parents of young people who may be affected by eating disorders."

See also: The Diet / Eating Disorder Connection

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Why We Overeat

"Most of us have done our share of out-of-control eating, whether it’s polishing off a family-size bag of potato chips without noticing or eating all the chocolates in the Valentine’s sampler—and we’ve probably felt at least a little guilty for overindulging. But if you find yourself having those “slip-ups” fairly regularly—or if your eating causes you so much shame that you have to do it in secret—your eating issues might be cause for concern," states Joyce Hendley of

"Most experts believe binge eating is much more prevalent than any survey can measure. 'Our findings only document people whose eating problems are clinically significant and causing marked distress—and that’s probably just the tip of the iceberg,' says James Hudson, M.D., Sc.D., director of the psychiatric epidemiology research program at McLean Hospital and lead author of the national eating disorders survey. 'Because there’s so much shame associated with eating disorders, a lot of people aren’t willing to admit they have a problem. We suspect there’s a much larger group of people who aren’t binging as often or as intensely, but nevertheless have tendencies toward out-of-control eating,' Hudson continues. 'That’s hard to quantify in a survey, but it’s out there.”

"What makes us decide to eat, or not eat, begins in the hypothalamus, a key control center at the base of the brain, explains Mary Boggiano, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who has extensively researched neurochemical changes associated with dieting and binging. 'The hypothalamus is what induces satiety or hunger, depending on our caloric needs,' she says. 'But when it comes to binge eating, which really isn’t about true hunger or satiety, normal hypothalamic function may get overpowered.' The parts of the brain that govern rational responses, like the neocortex (“I need sleep, not that pint of Ben & Jerry’s”) get overridden, too, she explains. What seem to win out are other, connected brain structures that form the 'feeling parts of the brain,' she says—regions like the amygdala (which plays a role in attaching emotional meanings to various stimuli) and the nucleus accumbens (involved in emotions, addictions and pleasure-seeking behavior). For some of us, this inner war with our rational sides and our primal urges to stock up on calories happens dozens of times daily—or more."

Read more about Why We Overeat here.
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The Messages We Send Our Children About Food.

The age of children suffering from eating disorders seems to keep getting younger and younger. In a weight obsessed society, teaching children to have a positive self image and a healthy relationship with food can be a daunting task. Parents must be sensitive to the messages they convey to their children, both intentionally and unintentionally. They must be aware of their own attitudes concerning food and self image. The old adage is true, "actions speak louder than words." Could you be inadvertently sending your child the wrong message?

Has your child witnessed you:
*Complain about your weight?
*Put yourself down because of your weight?
*Eat too little?
*Replace meals with diet shakes or other diet products?
*Skip meals?
*Exercise obsessively?
*Miss an event because you were unhappy with your appearance?
*Serve meals to the family but not eat with them?
* Criticizing them for their appearance?

Children are constantly being bombarded with images of extremely thin women, presented as examples of beauty. Being a normal weight is often viewed as being overweight. Their already thin peers are striving to be thinner. The outside influences are many but parents can help arm their children so they are better prepared, more self-assured, and less likely to fall victim to an eating disorder.

Here are some ways you can be a positive influence on your child's relationship with food:
*Stock the house with healthy foods.
*Teach the importance of nutrition for proper development and health.
*Make positive comments about yourself even if you are not happy with your weight.
*Be generous with you praise of them.
*Sit down to dinner as a family as often as you can and keep it stress free.
*Involve them in food shopping and cooking meals.
*Empower them by letting them plan a healthy meal a couple of times a week.
*Allow mistakes without ridicule.
*Do not use food as a reward or punishment.

Parents can make a difference.

picture source: MrsMenopausal

Warning Signs of Bulimia

There are many warning signs that may help you determine if someone is suffering from Bulimia. Knowing these signs may save a life. Below is a partial list of warning signs. A bulimic may exhibit one, some, or all of the following:

*Binge eating and unable to voluntarily stop.
*Obsessive concern about weight.
*Guilt or shame about eating.
*Frequent use of the bathroom after meals.
*Stress eating.
*Menstruation cessation or irregularities.
*Emotional changes around food.
*Relying on the scale to determine the tone of the day.
*Feeling that their body is the only thing they have control over.
*Obsession with calories, fat, food, and/or weight.
*Several pound weight shifts that cannot be explained.
*Vomiting Blood, stomach aches.
*Broken blood vessels in the eyes.
*Chronic sore throats/swollen glands.
*Low self-worth/low self-esteem.
*Feelings of worthlessness after binging or gaining weight.
*Recurring Headaches.
*Hair loss.
*Broken, brittle nails.

Please see "Eating Disorder Help" in sidebar for helpful hotlines and links.

"It's Just A Phase," And Other Misconceptions

"It's just a phase" is a familiar statement that offers a bit of comfort when dealing with a frustrating behavior or interest. We have all had our experiences with going through phases of our own, or watching children skip through one phase to another. Much to our dismay one child may refuse to eat anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, one may have an attachment to a certain article of clothing that she/he refuses to stop wearing. Exasperating as this may be, we realize it's a phase. This too shall pass. So, when witnessing an odd eating behavior in ourselves or someone we love, we may be inclined to chalk it up to a phase and miss what is really going on.

This is just one of the misconceptions concerning eating disorders. Are you questioning if a certain eating behavior is more than just a passing phase? Read about the misconceptions of eating disorders here: Common Misconceptions.
picture source: MrsMenopausal

Support and Resources

If you are suffering with an Eating Disorder please read this post by Medusa, ANOREXIA .... A CRY FOR HELP and be sure to check out the wonderful resource information listed there.

Beyond The Looking Glass

Anorexia is a lousy beautician. With side effects such as hair loss, lanugo, broken, brittle nails, and poor skin tone ... it is definitely not a girl's best friend. But, Anorexia affects much more than just your luxurious locks, peaches and cream complexion, and meticulous manicure. It affects your health, your quality of life, and your lifespan.

Refer to the following chart to see some of the effects Anorexia has on your body.



Alarming Statistics

A recent article in The Mac Weekly (Macalester's Independent Student Newspaper) reveals some alarming statistics. They state that according to a recent survey by M.E. Collins almost half of six-year-old girls on the playground are concerned about their weight, with 42 percent of girls in first through third grade wanting to be thinner.

The article goes on to say, "According to the National Eating Disorder Association, a recent study showed that 91 percent of women on a US college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting..."

Read what Macalester's students are doing to raise awareness and offer support during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Dying to be thin.

See Also: Eating Disorder Statistics

Thanks to WildAngel6 for the link to the article

Anorexia is not a glamorous diet option. It's a deadly eating disorder.

Here is one young woman's powerful message and account of her 13 year struggle with Anorexia.


Do You Have An Eating Disorder?

Are your eating habits normal or disordered?
Some people are not aware that they have an eating disorder. Here's a great test that I came across at It will help you determine if your eating is disordered.
"If you feel you have an eating disorder, it’s important that you recognize it and get help early. This may prevent you from developing a serious and perhaps fatal problem. The following “self test” was developed to help you learn if you have an eating disorder. Take the time to answer each question honestly and critically.

Once you finish our test, it’s a good idea to share your answers with a trusted adult, like your parents. However, if you feel uncomfortable with talking to your parents or another adult, it’s very important that you share these answers with your doctor. This is also a good test to take and discuss with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with an eating disorder and want to learn more about how it has affected you.

What are some of the warning signs of an eating disorder?

1. Do you think about food/eating a lot? Do you worry about what you eat (or don’t eat) and talk about how fat you think you are?

2. Have you started to avoid eating socially with others? Have you started to avoid eating in your home? For example, do you refuse to eat anything your parent(s) cook or just get a diet cola at the mall at lunch while your friends share a pizza?

3. In your worry about your body image, have you started avoiding going to the pool or wearing a bathing suit, wearing baggy clothes or developing excuses not to participate in gym class.

See the test in full here.

See Also: Eating Disorder Self Assessment Tests and Quizzes
Eating Disorder Help: Hotlines, Organizations, and Websites

J.K. Hillman, MD, “Just Dieting or an Eating Disorder? A Practical Guide for the Clinician” Adolescent Health Update. AAP. Vol. 13 (2). Feb. 2001.
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