Body Image

•December 1, 2010 • 16 Comments

In the realm of eating disorders, body image plays a crucial role in both the problem and recovery. But what is body image? Body image is a term which may refer to a person’s perception of his or her own physical appearance, or the interpretation of the body by the brain. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post much of a person’s perception of themselves can and is influenced by the media.

It is almost scary how soon we are trained to think that the body has to be a certain weight, shape, or size. Children are starting to worry about their weight at younger and younger ages. Obesity is an epidemic that is sweeping the nation and  if we aren’t careful it will end up killing all of us sooner, but is fear the right tactic in tackle this problem?

With all the improvements in technology we are really blessed to be able to accomplish everything in an easier and faster matter. We no longer have to go hunt for our food, we get in a car and drive to a grocery store. When its cold we don’t have to go chop wood and light a fire, we just have to turn the heat up a few degrees. All these things while really good have made us fat and lazy.

To combat this problem everything around us is telling us to get healthier, eat less, and be active. I think that the constant pressure to be thin is what is causing such a huge growth in disordered eating. The problem is that the perception of good  body image is always changing. What was considered thin 30 years ago is now considered fat.  SO what really is the ideal size?

There really is no answer to this question, but one thing is for sure; the person we see in the mirror isn’t always as bad as we think. The world is not made up of size zero people. We all need to adopt healthier understandings of ourselves and our bodies. If we can force ourselves to have a more positive mindset about our body, I am certain we will be happier. Disordered eating is a scary mental disease, that can severely distort ones self-esteem. I think that is everyone makes an effort to be more accepting to people of all shapes and sizes then the problem of disordered eating will decrease if not vanish entirely. As bad as it sounds others have the greatest impact on how a person feels about themselves, but how cool is it that we all have the power to make a change for the better?

Read to Succeed

•November 30, 2010 • 6 Comments

In my last post I talked about how the internet is a great tool to help with any and all health problems but it is only one of the many resources out there. Another such resource which might not be a quickly accessed or as diverse would be that of books. It seems with the growth and advancement of technology and as a result the internet, that forgotten are the days when one goes to the library in search of  desired knowledge. I say, “How come?!?”.

Books are fantastic sources of information and the choices on topics are endless. One book I found in my search for books on disordered eating was a book called “Binge No More. Your Guide to Overcoming Disordered Eating” by Joyce D. Nash. In the book she goes over everything from what disordered eating is, the causes of disordered eating, and ways to effectively change for the better. It is a great resource and is one that you can use time and time again.

As I mentioned earlier books are slowly becoming an extinct way of getting information, but there are so many pros of using books. For instance, in the case of the previously mentioned book, the author has a PhD in clinical psychology and is a well-known doctor. Whereas on the internet, anyone can post an article with or without the needed credentials. Also books are full of information that has been proofread and edited to be the most accurate representation of the problem and solution. On the internet there are no censors. Anything and everything can be posted, blogged. or tweeted.

In the end all information can be good or bad. It is up to the consumer to search for and find the good information. Books are just one more of the many resources out there that one can use  to help battle their personal struggles with disorders, such as disordered eating.

Underground Wellness

•November 30, 2010 • 7 Comments

As I was reading about the different types of eating disorders and ways to live healthier I came across a youtube video all about how food is absorbed by the body.  It was a very captivating video with links to many other health videos, so I decided to learn more about the videos and their author.

Here is the video:

The man in the video is Sean Croxton, who graduated from San Diego State University in 2001 with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology. He had a tough start as a personal trainer, but eventually became pretty successful as a video blogger. He then went on to host his own radio talk show and teach. In addition to that he also has a website called UndergroundWellness.com.

I found this site to be exceptionally organized and full of really good information. The focus of the site is easy tips on how to live a happier, healthier lifestyle. He also focuses a lot on holistic types of treatment for being healthier. Although I am not necessarily a believer in all holistic methods, I do believe there is some value to be found in his ideas.

One article on the website that I really liked was about the importance of getting a goods night sleep. He said that in order for you body to function to its fullest potential you need to get a goods night rest. I have tried and tested this theory out in my own life and I believe it. Sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle and a lack of it definitely affects many different aspects of ones life.

This website is just an example of the many health sites that are currently available. The internet is full of a plethora of choices when it comes to health. Whether you want the FDA’s opinion or a more holistic approach, you have all the tools you need to access good health. I guess the point I’m trying to get at, is that the internet is a great source of information. It is readily available at any time to offer help with any and all health related problems we face. If we can take the knowledge it provides and learn to apply it to our lives it can help us tackle any problem, even disordered eating.

Media Bombardment

•November 26, 2010 • 18 Comments

Body image plays a HUGE role in eating habits of any person. It is body image or perceived body image that drives most people to diet, exercise, or both. It is this body image that also drives mental sicknesses such as disordered eating. But what drives body image?

As a young child I can remember watching shows like Lizzie Mcguire and thinking, oh she is really cute, I want to be like her. She was an average girl trying to learn and grow as best she could. I can also remember my favorite musician, Kelly Clarkson. She was an amazing singer and what was even better was she was also a normal weight.

Looking back I think that much of the media I was exposed to played a huge role in how I percived myself and my body. I didnt think that I was too fat or too skinny. I was just like the movie stars so what did I have to worry about?

Now as I look at the shows that are on TV and the musicains that are starting to emerge, I am a little worried about the direction this nation is going. More and more Disney Stars are getting super thin. Almost unrealistically so. Eating and cutting disorders are sprouting up like daisys in stars as young as sixteen. It’s becoming an epidemic and needs to be addressed.

As much as we want to deny it, the media plays a significant role on all of us. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I feel extremely lucky to have been raised in an environment of acceptance and love no matter my size. But even still, I am not fully shielded from the power the media has on me. I still see the models and movies stars and think. I want to look like them. They seem happy.

With any eating disorder, much of the power it has over your body is the mental controls. We need to take the time to think through what we perceive as happiness and find a better way. The media may have lots of power to influence the way we and the rest of the world thinks, but it does not have the power to control our actions. We need to actively fight the influence of the media and strive for positive and healthy body images, even in a world obsessed entirely with being thin.

Calories Calories Calories…

•November 26, 2010 • 9 Comments

Nutrition labels are riddled with detailed information about content the foods we consume. Navigating it can be tough, so naturally as consumers we look to the number that is the easiest to find and understand. As a result, many times the first and only thing we check on a given food item is the calorie content.This habit can be both good and bad for our health.

It is important with all the food we have available that we eat a limited amount of calories and checking the calories in the foods we eat can help us to achieve that goal. This can also be very detrimental to our health in the fact that if all we are focusing on is calories than we are missing out on some of the many other essential components for our bodies.

In an article entitled “Calories Obsession: how many do we really need?” It goes over a formula to help calculate the exact amount of calories you need on a day to day basis. Many times the amount of calories we think we need is either severely over estimated, or in the case of weight-loss severely underestimated. However, one thing we need to remember is that calorie is just a word. It is a word used to describe the amount of energy a food can provide. It is not a tell all of the healthiness of any given food choice.

With disordered eating the focus calories as a number becomes more or less of  an obsession. Eating is no longer a pleasurable experience but a chore and an unsightly addition to a list. As a result a negative association is formed with food and an unhealthy relationship with eating  grows.  As consumers we can’t let the numbers rule our existence. We need to let go of our obsession with calories and eat that bowl of cereal not because it is only 110 calories, but because we are hungry and enjoy eating Cherrios to satisfy that hunger.

Happy Turkey Day!

•November 26, 2010 • 6 Comments

It’s that time of the year again! The holiday season is full of the four “f’s”: food, family, fun and did I mention food? Thanksgiving seems to be the worst of the offenders. The social norm on Thanksgiving day is to eat and eat until we are uncomfortably full, and then go back for some pie.

But why do we feel the need to eat so much?

I recently read an article about this topic exactly. In the article the blame for our drive to eat endlessly is placed on evolution. According to the article, “Evolution has given us the instinct to eat a lot every time we can, preparing for hard times. It’s the drive to survive, like puffy-cheeked squirrels storing up for the winter.”

The article also addresses the chemical responses to eating. When we eat pleasure chemicals are released. Scientists refer to this chemical release as ingestion analgesia, which is the pain relief that comes from eating.

These two factor combined, help keep both animals and humans from starving to death. We need food to survive and this drives us to eat. However we now live in a society where the food supply is endless. We had a plethora of food choices at our fingertips at all hours of the day. As a result our drive to eat is slowly “driving” us to unhealthy eating habits and ultimately killing us. As hard as it is, we need to take the time to think about what we are eating, as we are eating it. If we can make eating a conscious choice we will no longer be a slave to our own appetites or to social norms created by the holidays.

Just a little food for thought to chew over your turkey dinner this year. 🙂

The Numbers Don’t Lie

•November 9, 2010 • 23 Comments

Many people who are health conscious are constantly looking for new ways to measure and compare their health to others. Part of disordered eating is the constant focus on how food will affect us and our bodies.

Can numbers lie?

Since the scale is a relatively easy way to measure this effect  it is constantly used to monitor health. In the past one’s weight on the scale was the basis of measuring health. However recently things such as BMI have become a popular way to measure the health of  individuals. Although this technique of measurement is mostly accurate some professionals disagree as to its accuracy when compared to other methods such as waist size. With so many numbers and scales to measure health how can one decide what is right?

In the end there really is no magical number to determine whether or not we are healthy. Our bodies requires certain vitamins and minerals to function properly and if  one is solely focused on weight they are probably missing out on them. Many times we place too much  focus on the numbers and forget whats really important.  The numbers don’t define who we are or what we are worth. So do the numbers lie? Yes, they most definitely do. We as a population need to move away from numbers and comparisons and transition to individual needs and health standards. We need to shift our mental focus and obsessions and adopt healthier ways of thinking.