Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, organic—everyone you talk to is extolling the virtues of eating a proper diet. Taking a step toward trading junk for more balanced, nutrient-packed meals is a good thing. But when taken to an extreme, danger ensues, often in the form of anxiety, nutrient imbalances and other health issues.
I recently spotted a greeting card that said “I’m on two diets. There is simply not enough food on one”. Within the humorous message resides a very real truth… dieting means never eating enough. No matter how many new, creative ways that diets are re-packaged and marketed, the point is always to restrict nutritional intake and energy below what the body actually needs to sustain itself. While the multi-billion dollar diet industry promises a better body, better health and indeed a better life we now know that long term weight loss is not achievable for the vast majority of people.
Earlier this month Dr. David Herzog, Director of the Harris Center for Education and Advocacy in Eating Disorders, wrote a compelling yet heartbreaking article for the Huffington Post (Herzog, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-david-herzog/anorexia_b_1424487.html) about the public perception of anorexia nervosa. This important blog highlights the stigma commonly associated with anorexia, a disease often viewed as self-inflicted and ‘acquired’; a way of seeking attention and becoming thin.
“Does this dress make me look fat?” How many times have you uttered this phrase, or one similar? This, along with the knee-jerk reaction you can have to a friend decrying her big behind – which is often commiserated with, “Your big butt? Have you seen my muffin top?” – seems second nature. This “fat talk” is damaging to how we see and feel about ourselves, and yet it can be a daily occurrence.
“Faith is closing your eyes, stepping off a ledge into darkness and trusting that either someone will be there to catch you, or you’ll learn to fly.”
The above quote, spoken from a man in end of life care due to a battle with AIDS was relayed to me at a conference in 2010 by Cindy Blackstock, a tireless advocate for First Nations human rights in Canada. So, what’s that got to do with body image, eating disorders and mental health more broadly? For me the answer seems obvious – mental health is all about hope.
What do Lady Gaga, Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse have in common?
Fame, fortune and the essence of gossip- sure you could say that, but right now the media is trying drunkorexia on them for size.
While at first a catchy term for online sources with images of “skeletal celebrities who appear to live only off of Grey Goose and cigarettes” (Mohammad) the name has stuck so well that it now gets coined along with similar slang terms like pregorexia and orthorexia as well as serious illnesses such as anorexia and bulimia.
Today is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures. Wow! Connect and inspire girls – help them achieve brighter futures – lofty goals indeed. But how? How do we right the wrongs, inspire dreams and lead the charge? How do we show girls the way to greatness?
We don’t! I suggest we let girls lead and show us the way.
“Are you coming out tomorrow night with us?”
“I don’t think so, I have to go to the gym tomorrow night. Tomorrow is hams and quads”.
“Really? You’re ditching us again for a workout? We went to the gym this morning. You never come out anymore”.
Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) – a singular time of the year set aside to enhance public knowledge about eating disorders, dieting and body image problems.
In its public awareness campaign, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) establishes numerous objectives to pursue during this commemorative week. This invitation to promote awareness calls for some imagination and creativity along with a caveat to “do no harm” in our educational endeavours.
When I was a little girl, my Christmas wish list did not consist of the stereotypical trappings of the young female mind. There was no Barbie Dream House, no little ponies (real or otherwise). Instead I craved luxury: a fur coat, a leather skirt, caramel suede Frye boots, identical to my oh-so-stylish mother’s – all symbols of womanhood in my young mind.