Welcome to Weighty Issues

As you may know, we live in a culture which promotes a love/hate relationship with food, with our bodies and ultimately with ourselves. Therefore, we are left feeling out of control with our eating and with our lives. Joyce Sarat White, licensed professional counselor and founder of Weighty Issues, helps clients explore information, challenge beliefs and encourages the reframing of one's relationship to food, to their bodies and to themselves. Click here for a more complete description of Weighty Issues.

This blog will provide you with the opportunity to receive support and education. The information is meant to complement, not substitute for professional services. Thank you for visiting, I hope it will become habit forming!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Midlife Women with Eating Disorders

Midlife Women with Eating Disorders: A Weighty Issue

Are you 35 or older?

Have you been on a diet most of your life only to be heavier than you would like to be?

Do you dislike your body, your weight and the way you look?

Do you eat to comfort yourself when you are stressed, sad, anxious, lonely or feeling empty?

Do your life and your eating feel out of control?

Do you feel like a failure and hate yourself?

Do you eat a half of a gallon of ice cream, then feel terrible about yourself?

Do you eat in secret?

Are you grieving a loss-perhaps a loss of spouse, parent or child or the loss of a dream for your life?

Are you a perfectionist?

Are your hormones fluctuating?

If you could answer yes to some of these questions, you are not alone and you could be a midlife woman with an eating disorder. Eating disorders at midlife have been occurring with greater frequency, partly due to the aging of baby boomers, but often go unrecognized.

Although there is little research in this area, there is compelling information about the extent of dieting and body image concerns, both of which are precursors to clinical eating disorders. The following statistics apply to adult women (Source: Waterhouse, 1997):

*60% have engaged in pathogenic weight control
*40% are restrained eaters
*40% are overeaters
*50% say their eating is devoid of pleasure and causes guilt
*90% worry about their weight

Along with the body image concerns, a sense of loss, isolation or stress can affect midlife women. Disordered eating patterns are complex conditions with multiple causes, including social, individual, familial and biological factors. Consequently, disordered eating can be interpreted not as mere problems with food and weight, but as a complex expression of how an individual sees herself in the world and a response to how she experiences that world.

Symptoms of Eating Disorder at Middle and Late Life
+Preoccupation with body image
+Use of over-the-counter, prescribed, or illicit substances to lose weight
+”Exercise Addiction”
+Inability to make life transitions or to mourn significant losses
+Fear of aging: competition with younger generations
+Unrealistic goals
Zerbe K.J. Primary Psychiatrr. Vol.10.No.6 2003

How to turn away from an eating disorder, be resilient and love your body:

1.Accept your body as it is. Be realistic and befriend it. Be gentle and compassionate.

2.Be “in the present” with your body. Grieve the figure of your youth. Stop “futurizing.”

3.Affirm your right to be whatever shape and size you naturally are. Begin noticing the beauty in a variety of body types. Buy and wear clothes that you love and that fit you.

4.Stop dieting and stop weighing yourself. Concentrate on eating mindfully and listen to your body: Is it hungry? Is it tired? What do I really need?

5.Choose healthy foods not because you have to, but because you cherish your body.

6.Enjoy being in your body. Do activities you like: dancing, yoga, tai chi, karate, swimming, walking, biking…

7.Find creative outlets for your feelings around your body: write about them, paint, read the writing of others, share feelings with a safe person.

8.Pamper your body with soothing rituals.

9.Take time to Breathe/to be Quiet: Reflect, prayer, meditate, journal.

10.Most importantly get support-Call me at Weighty Issues (207) 846-9053.

Healing and recovering from an eating disorder ultimately evolves from learning to trust oneself, one’s body and eventually, others.

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