Thank you to all that joined February’s #endED twitter chat with National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) before Eating Disorders Awareness Week. NEDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. Elizabeth Saviteer ( @NEDAStaff )and Marci Anderson ( @MarciRD ) lead the chat and some wonderful comments were heard! Here’s a recap of some of the highlights
Q1. Eating Disorders have been getting more media attention, has this been harmful/helpful/both?
• @MissDEIntl2012 more helpful! It reduces the stigma associated with ED and has opened a dialogue
• @ScritchfieldRD helpful because it opens a dialogue, silence is the most harmful of all. We cant heal what we dont see/say.
• @NEDAstaff Media can be a great way to increase awareness, decreasing stigma, if presented in a responsible way
Q2. A risk factor for developing an ED is poor body image, how can we promote positive body image in children and teens?
• @jessicaclaytonm: Take the focus off appearance. Teach children to value their minds, passions, opinions rather than weight.
• @MarshaHudnall Kathy Kater has some good materials to help kids build healthy body images bodyimagehealth.org
• @NEDAstaff One way to promote positive body image in kids is to be a good role model for them as a parent, teacher or mentor
Q3. How do you deal with people in your life who are dieting or weight-focused?
@MauveDinosaur My confidence is growing. Fat-talk is so normalized, people look at you like you have 2-heads when u dont join in.
• @ScritchfieldRD: I will tell them that #diets are disordered eating and that eating disorders start as weight focused goals
• @EDNMaryland By remembering to focus on YOUR issues and healthy lifestyle not anyone elses.
Q4 What is some new/exciting research on ED?
1. @KendraTaylor_ more recognition/research out there that EDs affect more than the perceived stereotype.
2. @MarciRD Love #intuitiveeating research: http://tinyurl.com/7v385zk
3. @MarciRD Walter Kaye doing really important research on the #brain and EDs: http://vimeo.com/1678383
4. @NEDAstaff Regarding prevention more research on how screening tools help in early detection and treatment outcomes
Q5 How do you define recovery from an eating disorder?
• @ScritchfieldRD: A5: freedom from the physical and emotional suffering brought on by the eating disorder
• @jessicaclaytonm Trying to embrace that it is a process and perfectionism has no place in recovery
• @EDNMaryland I like Carolyn Costins definition of what true recovery is. NOT being triggered by lifes ups & downs.
• @MarciRD Learning how to manage life without using food
Q6 What are your favorite pro-recovery tools for eating disorder sufferers, family, and friends?
• @YaseminMerwede: For me, family support was instrumental. Feeling safe in my environment to share my thoughts and feelings.
• @MarciRD This article, b/c it lists my favorite positive body and pro-recovery social media friends! http://bit.ly/A8xOgE
• @jessicaclaytonm Listen to your heart and your support system, not the media.
Let your voices be heard for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week! Talk to friends, wear purple, write a blog post! Find out more here: Eating Disorders Awareness Week
5. How do you define recovery from an eating disorder?
6. What are your favorite pro-recovery tools for eating disorder sufferers, family, and friends?
During my sophomore year of college I learned about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. At the time, it didn’t interest me all that much. In fact, the whole theory seemed like a no-brainer to me. And as for that whole notion of “self-actualization”… let’s just say it didn’t really speak to my 20 year old self.
But little did I know that Mr. Maslowin’s theory would come back to serve an important perspective in the way that I work and how I teach my clients about food and eating. For those of you not familiar with the theory it teaches us that we have a variety of needs for healthy and appropriate development. They are depicted hierarchically in pyramid fashion with the most fundamental and important needs at the bottom. Maslow's theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will focus energy or desire for higher level needs. So if his theory holds true, it’s more important to secure food and shelter before forming relationships and sexual intimacy.
With this theory in mind, I have some questions for you to ponder.
1. What shall we do with cultural messages that tell us we need to “earn our food” through extreme exercise in order to have permission to eat? According to Maslow it's not earned but a right as humans.2. What happens to our self-esteem if our minds are perpetually stuck in obsessing about food (which is considered a lower level need)?
3. Can we form healthy relationships if we are denying ourselves our basic rights (such as food) through dieting?
I believe that forming a healthy, balanced, secure relationship to food and your body is imperative. Living at war with food and your body can disrupt your ability to meet your higher level needs like healthy self-esteem, creative thinking, and forming relationships. Now THAT is a pretty big deal. . What do you think?
If you know me at all, you know that I’m not a fan of obsessing over the scale. And I recently came across this scale called The Quantum. The premise is actually an interesting one. Rather than telling you what you weigh, it stores your weight from the first time you step on it and reports back to you your weight changes without revealing your weight. It sure is an interesting idea and may help those who obsess over a number that determines whether they’ll have good day or a bad day.
It’s probably no surprise that I don’t love it. (Obviously, this is a product no case post.) Let me tell you why:1. It cannot tell you what is responsible for your body weight changes. Are you dehydrated? Did you have a salty meal? Are you pre-menstrual? Has your body composition (ie. lean mass vs fat mass) changed?
3. It cannot tell you if you’re behavior is truly healthy and sustainable. You may see “results” on the scale that seem impressive but may not ultimately be healthy for you. For example, dieting is extremely effective at creating weight loss…until you give up on the diet and gain back more than when you started it.
If the goal of weight loss is taken out of context of behaviors that support health and sustainable behaviors, it is completely useless.
Bottom line: I believe in putting energy into what is “actionable.” And because body weight is a by-product of several factors (like genetics, eating habits, exercise, etc.) I don’t consider it to be an “actionable” goal.
So let’s put our energy into what is within your scope of change:
Getting adequate rest
Honoring body cues for hunger and fullness
Exercising in a way that increases energy, strength, and improves mood
Speaking to yourself in a way that is kind and positive
Drinking enough water
Focusing on actionable behaviors is the key to ultimate health. And no scale can ever capture that. Ever.