Posts Tagged ‘men’

Eating Disorders and Pregnancy

February 29, 2008

Eating disorders and pregnancy

Having an eating disorder can have serious consequences on one’s health. When the body is not getting significant nutrition, it may respond by stunting bone growth and allowing it’s muscles to waste away. One of the most important muscles in the body is the heart, and unhealthy weight loss can result in an irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, and the very real possibility of cardiac arrest. While these problems affect one’s health to a great degree, there can be an even greater strain placed on the body when one is pregnant and has an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. In this article, we’ll discuss the problem and offer some help when it comes to dealing with it.

The damage that is done to the human body through an eating disorder can truly have a negative effect on a woman’s endocrine system. This system is crucial when it comes to proper pregnancy, as it regulates the hormones that are responsible for proper development. For that reason, some women who have had eating disorders that they’ve successfully treated in the past may still be threatened with the aspect of having a risky pregnancy. Sadly, roughly twenty percent of all female visits to fertility clinics are made by women who have had an eating disorder in the past.

If you currently have an eating disorder and you’ve become pregnant, it’s important to do all that you can to save yourself from the disorder before the baby’s health is threatened. You should immediately seek the help of a physician or a counsellor in order to bring your body back to where it needs to be. Unfortunately, women who have eating disorders face a much higher risk of miscarriage. There is also a greater chance of having the baby prematurely, which can result in a host of developmental problems. Also, those with eating disorders need to consider how pregnancy works. Babies sap much of the nutrition that their mothers eat, so if your own health is not stable, your child’s life can be threatened as well as your own. Women with eating disorders often have low levels of calcium, and when the foetus begins to demand calcium, osteoporosis may occur, causing your bones and teeth to become weak and brittle.

Another thing to consider is the mental state that you are in. If you are busy being concerned about your self-image due to an eating disorder, you may be unable to give your growing child the attention that it needs. Before making any decision about becoming pregnant, be sure to consider all of the facts when it comes to the child’s development. Do your best to get yourself back to a healthy way of living before considering bringing a child into the mix; the resulting stressors can heavily outweigh your desires for having a child. Make a responsible decision before you do anything rash, and be sure that you’ll be able to provide a loving and peaceful setting for a child should you decide to have one.

Article by Mike Serov

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The Globalization of Eating Disorders

February 24, 2008

This is a wonderful short essay  by Susan Bordo which was originally posted by Patsy Clairmont on her blog:

Butterflies are just around the corner… adventures of a starving artist.

It is so interesting, insightful and filled with common sense, I just had to re-print it here.

“The young girl stands in front of the mirror. Never fat to begin with, she’s been on a no-fat diet for a couple of weeks and has reached her goal weight: 115 lb., at 54–exactly what she should weigh, according to her doctor’s chart. But in her eyes she still looks dumpy. She can’t shake her mind free of the “Lady Marmelade” video from Moulin Rouge. Christina Aguilera, Pink, L’il Kim, and Mya, each one perfect in her own way: every curve smooth and sleek, lean-sexy, nothing to spare. Self-hatred and shame start to burn in the girl, and envy tears at her stomach, enough to make her sick. She’ll never look like them, no matter how much weight she loses. Look at that stomach of hers, see how it sticks out? Those thighs–they actually jiggle. Her butt is monstrous. She’s fat, gross, a dough girl”.

 

As you read the imaginary scenario above, whom did you picture standing in front of the mirror?

If your images of girls with eating and body image problems have been shaped by People magazine and Lifetime movies, she’s probably white, North American, and economically secure. A child whose parents have never had to worry about putting food on the family table. A girl with money to spare for fashion magazines and trendy clothing, probably college-bound.

If you’re familiar with the classic psychological literature on eating disorders, you may also have read that she’s an extreme “perfectionist” with a hyper-demanding mother, and that she suffers from “body-image distortion syndrome” and other severe perceptual and cognitive problems that “normal” girls don’t share. You probably don’t picture her as black, Asian, or Latina.

Read the description again, but this time imagine twenty-something Tenisha Williamson standing in front of the mirror.

 

Tenisha is black, suffers from anorexia, and feels like a traitor to her race. “From an African-American standpoint,” she writes, “we as a people are encouraged to embrace our big, voluptuous bodies. This makes me feel terrible because I don’t want a big, voluptuous body! I don’t ever want to be fat–ever, and I don’t ever want to gain weight. I would rather die from starvation than gain a single pound.”

 

Tenisha is no longer an anomaly. Eating and body image problems are now not only crossing racial and class lines, but gender lines. They have also become a global phenomenon.

 

Fiji is a striking example. Because of their remote location, the Fiji islands did not have access to television until 1995, when a single station was introduced It broadcasts programs from the United StatesGreat Britain, and Australia. Until that time, Fiji had no reported cases of eating disorders, and a study conducted by anthropologist Anne Becker showed that most Fijian girls and women, no matter how large, were comfortable with their bodies. In 1998, just three years after the station began broadcasting, 11 percent of girls reported vomiting to control weight, and 62 percent of the girls surveyed reported dieting during the previous months.

 

Becker was surprised by the change; she had thought that Fijian cultural traditions, which celebrate eating and favour voluptuous bodies, would “withstand” the influence of the media images. Becker hadn’t yet understood that we live in an empire of images, and that there are no protective borders.

 

In Central Africa, for example, traditional cultures still celebrate voluptuous women. In some regions, brides are sent to fattening farms to be plumped and massaged into shape for their wedding night. In a country plagued by AIDS, the skinny body has meant–as it used to among Italian, Jewish, and black Americans–poverty, sickness, death.

An African girl must have hips,” says dress designer Frank Osodi. “We have hips. We have bums. We like flesh in Africa.” For years, Nigeria sent its local version of beautiful to the Miss World competition. The contestants did very poorly. Then a savvy entrepreneur went against local ideals and entered Agbani Darego, a light-skinned, hyper-skinny beauty. (He got his inspiration from M-Net, the South African network seen across Africa on satellite television, which broadcasts mostly American movies and television shows.) Agbani Darego won the Miss World Pageant, the first Black African to do so. Now, Nigerian teenages fast and exercise, trying to become “lepa”–a popular slang phrase for the thin “it” girls that are all the rage. Said one: “People have realized that slim is beautiful.”

 

How can mere images be so powerful? For one thing, they are never “just pictures,” as the fashion magazines continually maintain (disingenuously) in their own defence. They speak to young people not just about how to be beautiful but also about how to become what the dominant culture admires, values, rewards. They tell them how to be cool, “get it together,” overcome their shame. To girls who have been abused they may offer a fantasy of control and invulnerability, immunity from pain and hurt. For racial and ethnic groups whose bodies have been deemed “foreign,” earthy, and primitive, and considered unattractive by Anglo-Saxon norms, they may cast the lure of being accepted as “normal” by the dominant culture.

In today’s world, it is through images–much more than parents, teachers, or clergy–that we are taught how to be. And it is images, too, that teach us how to see, that educate our vision in what’s a defect and what is normal, that give us the models against which our own bodies and the bodies of others are measured. Perceptual pedagogy: “How to Interpret Your Body 101.” It’s become a global requirement.

 I was intrigued, for example, when my articles on eating disorders began to be translated, over the past few years, into Japanese and Chinese. Among the members of audiences at my talks, Asian women had been among the most insistent that eating and body image weren’t problems for their people, and indeed, my initial research showed that eating disorders were virtually unknown in Asia. But when, this year, a Korean translation of Unbearable Weight was published, I felt I needed to revisit the situation. I discovered multiple reports on dramatic increases in eating disorders in China, South Korea, and Japan. “As many Asian countries become Westernised and infused with the Western aesthetic of a tall, thin, lean body, a virtual tsunami of eating disorders has swamped Asian countries,” writes Eunice Park in Asian Week magazine. Older people can still remember when it was very different. In China, for example, where revolutionary ideals once condemned any focus on appearance and there have been several disastrous famines, “little fatty” was a term of endearment for children. Now, with fast food on every corner, childhood obesity is on the rise, and the cultural meaning of fat and thin has changed.

When I was young,” says Li Xiaojing, who manages a fitness centre in Beijing, “people admired and were even jealous of fat people since they thought they had a better life….But now, most of us see a fat person and think ‘He looks awful.’”

 

Clearly, body insecurity can be exported, imported, and marketed–just like any other profitable commodity. In this respect, what’s happened with men and boys is illustrative. Ten years ago men tended, if anything, to see themselves as better looking then they (perhaps) actually were. And then (as I chronicle in detail in my book The Male Body) the menswear manufacturers, the diet industries, and the plastic surgeons “discovered” the male body. And now, young guys are looking in their mirrors, finding themselves soft and ill defined, no matter how muscular they are. Now they are developing the eating and body image disorders that we once thought only girls had. Now they are abusing steroids, measuring their own muscularity against the oiled and perfected images of professional athletes, body-builders, and Men’s Health models. Now the industries in body-enhancement–cosmetic surgeons, manufacturers of anti-aging creams, spas and salons–are making huge bucks off men, too.

 

What is to be done? I have no easy answers. But I do know that we need to acknowledge, finally and decisively, that we are dealing here with a cultural problem. If eating disorders were biochemical, as some claim, how can we account for their gradual “spread” across race, gender, and nationality? And with mass media culture increasingly providing the dominant “public education” in our children’s lives–and those of children around the globe–how can we blame families? Families matter, of course, and so do racial and ethnic traditions. But families exist in cultural time and space–and so do racial groups. In the empire of images, no one lives in a bubble of self-generated “dysfunction” or permanent immunity. The sooner we recognize that–and start paying attention to the culture around us and what it is teaching our children–the sooner we can begin developing some strategies for change.

Woman over 25 with eating disorders

February 14, 2008

Information about eating disorders in women over 25

Eating disorders are not only for young teenaged girls. The stereotype has been proven wrong year after year as children, adults, seniors and men are diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating syndrome.

In general, men develop eating disorders later than woman, and the onset of bulimia is later than anorexia. We are also facing the relatively new problem of long-term anorexia and bulimia. Individuals who were diagnosed in their teens but received no successful treatment, and who are now in their thirties or fourties.

The following information is taken from:

http://eatingdisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/eating_disorders_in_adult_women

The article is called “What happens after Recovery?” by Lori Henry.

“One of the recent phenomenon is the discovery that adult women are still struggling with these issues. Those who had suffered in their teen years were still effected, but could not be diagnosed with an eating disorder because they fell under the radar for specific symptoms.

There is also a huge jump in women who develop eating disorders later in life, usually due to the many changes and stressors that present themselves as their children grow up, they go through deaths, possible divorces, pregnancy, and age changes their perspectives and bodies.

Not many studies have been done, though, on adult women who suffer from full blown eating disorders and especially those who are suffering but are not quite diagnosable.

In Trisha Gura’s new book, Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women, she diligently explores this hidden epidemic that is ruining millions of people’s lives. Chock full of scientific research, personal stories and the author’s own experience, the read is both a fascinating and shattering one.

The book doesn’t stop there, though. Trisha also provides answers to difficult questions about eating disorders in adult women’s lives, as well as inspiration for those dealing with these issues.

What happens when girls with eating disorders grow up into adults? We hear from them in direct stories about their struggles and how aging has effected their latent eating disorders.

Women she interviews range in age and experience, but all share the growing battle with disordered eating. One woman is 92 years old and developed anorexia in her senior years because “there was just too much she wanted to do in her later years” (Lying in Weight, Harper Collins, 2007).

Trisha Gura is not only someone who empathises with the subject matter, she is a scientist herself and has spent 15 years as a medical journalist. She holds a doctorate in molecular biology and has written extensively in such publications as Science, Nature, Scientific American, the Chigaco Tribune, the Boston Globe, Child, the Yoga Journal and Health, to name a few.

Above all, she offers hope to those suffering or who know someone who is suffering. Mixed in with her scientific research are the women’s stories themselves who have shared their own experience in order to shed light on their age group.

Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women is available from Amazin and is a great read for laypeople and professionals alike”.

eating disorders and men…

February 2, 2008

Eating disorders: Who do you think of? …Frail teenaged girls?

Fair enough… the majority of people with an eating disorder are young and female. BUT many men suffer too…

 

I personally happen to know more than ten men who have had or still do suffer from anorexia or bulimia. It’s likely that well over 5000 men in Wales are suffering today. Most researchers don’t even include men because they think it will schew the statistics!

Men tend to be older than women when they develop an eating disorder… and they are more likely to exercise obsessively. But doctors and health care professionals are less likely to diagnose them, which is worrying because… let’s face it… the statistics for the correct diagnosis of an e.d. in women are not very good 😦

Men find it hard to ask for help – this is because there are additional, particular barriers to overcome. For example, eating disorders are viewed as a female illness so men may feel emasculated and ashamed of confessing to a “girl’s illness”.

Also, men might worry that their hetro-sexuality will be compromised (that people will think they are gay). Actually, a high percentage of men with eating disorders are gay (up to 20% compared to 10% of the general population) – and eating disorders in men are often linked to sexual distress; but most are still straight.

 Finally, if you are a man in Wales with an eating disorder and you want help – where do you go?

Some facts

 Pre-puberty, the same amount of boys suffer from eating disorders as girls.

 Post-puberty, one in ten sufferers are male. (These statistics are primarily based on self-disclosure so the real number may be far higher).

Recent studies suggest up to 16% of people being treated for anorexia are men and the numbers may be even higher with bulimia

 Eating disorders (particularly anorexia nervosa) have the highest fatality rate of any mental illness and men are far more likely to commit suicide than woman, so  male sufferers are particularly at risk.

Follow up:

…If you are a man who has or does suffer from an eating disorder we would appreciate your comments. How can we support you? What do you need?

If you are a service provider running specialist therapy for male sufferers – please let us know!

Interested in this subject? Copy and paste the following links to read more:

http://www2.jsonline.com/alive/news/aug00/eat14081300.asp

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Health/Diet/story?id=3948347&page=1

http://www.b-eat.co.uk/AboutEatingDisorders/Mengeteatingdisorderstoo

http://www.b-eat.co.uk/AboutEatingDisorders/Mengeteatingdisorderstoo/Howeatingdisordersdevelop