October 30, 2008

"You should be on a Discovery Channel special."

M said that to me yesterday - and shockingly, meant it as a compliment!

Here's what she meant. She looks at my eating habits, and she can't believe how, um, normal they are. I eat when I'm hungry. I don't eat when I'm not hungry. I don't absolutely avoid "bad foods"; I just control my portions of those foods, but I still enjoy them. And, I simply love the feeling of enjoying food.

All of these are difficult / foreign concepts for her.

So she looks at my non-disordered eating with wonderment - like it's something on a science special on TV. I'm not sure whether to be flattered or not, but if having a positive role model for food is a good thing, I'm glad she's got that.


After months without one, M finally got an appointment with a new nutritionist. The nutritionist had a simple, intriguing suggestion for M: for the time being, focus more on when you eat than what you eat. So, M is supposed to eat breakfast between 8 and 9 am, lunch between 12 and 1 pm, a snack between 3 and 4 pm, and dinner between 6 and 7 pm. What she eats is up to her. The hope here is that this will free her from being paralyzed by debating whether or not to eat anything, so that she can start learning to trust and respond to her hunger more.

Through two days, the signs are pretty encouraging. She ate every meal on day one, and 2 good meals on day two. The bigger deal (in my mind) is that M seems less stressed by food than before. I've said it before, I'll say it again: the anxiety around food choices is almost as debilitating for her as the fear of food itself. This plan might help cool that pressure somewhat.

October 10, 2008

Busy M

M's been insanely busy recently with work. For the past two weeks, it's been work, sleep, eat (a bit), cook (she loves to do it), and yoga (once or twice a week). I'm not sure if the intense schedule has been good for her or not.

On the one hand, when she's crazy busy, she has less time to act on her eating disorder, and she has to stay focused on the task at hand.

On the other hand, she's stressed. Very, very stressed. And she does not handle stress very well. And I wonder if this schedule is going to drive her down the road of depression and disordered eating sometime soon.

Guess we'll find out - she's got one more week of this crazy schedule.

October 5, 2008

Trisha Gura

I had a chance to hear Trisha Gura speak recently. Trisha is a biologist and science writer by trade, but now focuses on writing about the personal and psychological aspects of eating disorders. Trisha recently completed a book called "Lying in Weight". I definitely encourage you to check out her Web site at www.trishagura.com. A couple of highlights from her talk:

* Trisha talked about the chemical differences in the brains of people with and without eating disorders. One of the effects of these chemical disparities is that they make it difficult, if not impossible, for sufferers to accurately visualize what they look like. In other words, self-image isn't a mental problem for people with eating disorders, it's a biochemical problem.

* Trisha discussed the importance of "discovery" to get to "recovery". This discovery is personal to each sufferer, and is basically the way (or ways) that they gain a better sense of self and something to anchor and grow the positive parts of their lives. This can be writing in a journal, or art therapy, or volunteering to help others. Trisha stressed that it's up to the sufferer to find and follow through on their discovery, and the role of loved ones is to encourage this path of discovery.

Lots more stats and insights at her site. Check it out.