Aug 8, 2019
Well this is a nice and light topic for mid August isn’t it? I was contacted by a Podcast listener a few weeks ago and she asked if I would do a podcast on Eating Disorders and I of course said yes, but having been there myself, do not take this subject lightly and quite honestly, wasn’t sure where to start. However when I saw Beyonce’s diet plan being bandied around and a lot of discussion amongst the health experts as to how it can be dangerous, I thought I would jump right in.
She says to reach her goals, she must limit herself to no bread, no carbs, no sugar, no dairy, no meat, no fish, no alcohol – and she admits she’s hungry – all very entertaining but also incredibly irresponsible – what message is she giving to all the girls and women who think she is fab?
The reality is, if you go without carbohydrates, the brain is starved of essential sugars, the NHS however suggests that starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals should make up just over a third of the food we eat
As far as I am concerned, virtually every single diet is dangerous. They feed into the mental struggle that comes with body confidence and self acceptance. A diet tells us that using it as our tool, we can control our body shape and weight but of course we can’t, we are far more intrinsically designed than that and no simple equation will help us become stick thin – hang on a moment, who said we need to be thin anyway?
That’s the other problem, it used to be models in magazines but now its influencers in our own homes, on our devices, on our social media feed, showing us how we need to be looking and dishing out the guilt in spades
It’s easy to judge when you don’t understand and with all the pressures of social media, there has been a rapid increase in anorexia and bulimia cases. It’s easier to spot an anorexic than a bulimic but essentially, they are both fighting the same demons.
After an attempted rape, I became anorexic when I was 16, it was the final straw in my younger years which had been packed with abuse and control and something in my brain flipped. I stopped eating. It wasn’t a choice, I physically couldn’t swallow – my body tried to gain control of my life because my heart and my brain was so traumatised. Within a year, I left home and started my life afresh on the south coast and I think taking control of my life in this way with a new start had a huge impact on regaining control and I began to get healthy again.
Fast forward 8 years and I spent a few months in Israel where we lived on fresh pita bread which was delicious with butter and sugar. I came home mid summer and none of my summer shorts would go past my knees – no kidding I gained about 30 pounds – 2 ½ stone, went from 8st to 10 ½ in 6 months – I didn’t much enjoy the comments from the boys – wow you’ve gained weight, to be honest, I saw the funny side as I’d not looked in a full length mirror for 6 months and just hadn’t realised what was going on. I’d always been skinny and suddenly I wasn’t so I was going to do something about it. I went on the Rosemary Conley low fat diet and over a period of 6 months or so the weight began to come off – but then the demons arrived. I could manage the first bit, but when it took ages and ages and the dreaded plateau meant that I wasn’t losing as much as I had done previously, I started to crave foods I wasn’t being allowed and there began a 4 year struggle with bulima. It ruled my life, like it owned part of my brain, I was anxious at every meal time, I couldn’t go to bed without planning my food for the next day, it totally consumed me and I couldn’t escape it. It wasn’t until I threw away my scales, and started to take control of my thoughts and not allow the fear to grip me any longer that I started to live again and from that point, I’m not sure where it began to turn, in living life, in working, in eating and in allowing myself just to get on with it, the thoughts began to fade away and slowly, so did the weight.
Diet’s are dangerous tools for weight loss particularly fad diets endorsed by celebrities – we all have different genetic make ups, we aren’t all built to look the same and if you’re following people on social media whose feeds cause you to judge yourself, then maybe it’s time to unfollow them.
Of all the mental health disorders, this one causes the most fatalities because it can cause lasting damage on our vital organs – we need food, we need to eat
Anorexia means someone is not eating enough food to get the energy they need to stay healthy. Sometimes people assume anorexia is just about slimming and dieting, but it is much more than this. At its core it is often connected to very low self-esteem, negative self-image and feelings of intense distress.
Causes of anorexia:
It has been said that genetics load the gun and environment pulls the trigger in eating disorders. Some people can eat for Britain, others look at a slice of bread and feel they gain weight – so eating disorders are not caused by any given thing, they are a mix based on genes, personality, and environmental influences.:
· The effects of the media, constantly portraying thin people as ideal stereotypes
· Professions that promote being thin and weight loss, such as ballet and modeling
· Family and childhood traumas: sexual abuse, neglect, divorce, death
· Peer pressure among friends and co-workers to be thin or be sexy