Monday, February 26, 2007


March 1st is National Self-Injury Awareness Day. Please wear a red and black ribbon in support of the day.

This month I will be posting some information about self-injury.

I'll start today with a definition.
Self-harm is any action ones takes with the intent of hurting oneself and leaves marks lasting for more than one hour.

Some types of self-injury include cutting, burning, hitting oneself, interfering with the healing of wounds, bruising oneself, skin picking, hair pulling, and scab picking.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Eating Disorders: Coping with Social Situations

Individuals with eating disorders often have a difficult time coping with social situations where food is involved, such as the holidays, parties, or other social events.

I have written an e-book entitled Eating Disorders: Coping With the Holidays and Other Social Situations. I used my personal and professional experience and knowledge to create this informative booklet for other women who have difficulty coping in these situations.

The book is $1.95. It's succinct, but packed with useful information.

Click the link above or on the sidebar to order.

Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified IS Real

Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (ED NOS) is as real as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa.

ED NOS is diagnosed when an individual does not quite meet the criteria for Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa, yet has disordered eating behavior. For instance, ED NOS might be diagnosed if a teen girl is significantly underweight, but has not stopped having menstruation. Or a young woman might be diagnosed with ED NOS if she has been engaging in binge-eating and purging behaviors for more than three months, but she only does it on average once a week.

Individuals who compulsively overeat are also diagnosed with ED NOS.

Despite the lack of attention the media and even many mental health professionals give individuals with ED NOS, it is a real issue. It's likely that more individuals suffer from ED NOS than from Anorexia Nervosa and/or Bulimia Nervosa.

What lies at the core of disordered eating is often similar whether the individual starves herself, binge-eats and purges, or overeats.

In the end it doesn't really matter WHAT diagnosis the individual with disordered eating has. It matters more that the individual needs help and that she is hurting.

If you know someone with ED NOS, please take their issues and concerns as seriously as you would with an individual that has Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa.

Friday, February 16, 2007


If you have a loved one who suffers from an eating disorder, you may not understand his or her mindset.

There are some really good fiction books written about eating disorders that can help a loved one of a family member or friend better understand the condition.

Some of the good fiction books I've read about eating disorders include:

The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron

Diary of an Anorecix Girl by Morgan Menzie

Stick Figure by Lori Gottieb

The Monster Within: Facing an Eating Disorder by Cynthia Rowland McClure

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What is Bulimia

Bulimia Nervosa affects about 1-3% of American women and .01-.03% of American men according to the American Psychiatric Association (2000).

The symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa according to the American Psychiatric Association are:
1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. Binge eating is classified by eating a significantly larger amount of food within any 2-hour time frame than most people would eat in similar circumstances and time period. Binge eating is also classified as a sense of loss of control, feeling that one cannot stop eating, or that one does not have control over what or how much he or she eats.

2. Inappropriate compensatory behaviors in order to avoid gaining weight such as taking diuretics, fasting, excessively exercising, purposeful vomiting, or laxative abuse.

3. Binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors (purging) occur together, on average at least two times a week for three months or longer.

4. Weight and shape significantly affect one's evaluation of himself or herself.

Purging type: During the current episode of Bulimia Nervosa, the compensatory behaviors include the misuse of laxatives, enemas, or purposeful vomiting.

Nonpurging type: During the current episode of Bulimia Nervosa, inappropriate compensatory behaviors include excessive exercise and/or fasting and the person does not regularly engage in the misuse of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, or self-induced vomiting.

Case example: Lauren is a 20-year old college sophomore. She has good grades, has lots of friends, and is outgoing. She gets together with her friends on Friday night to enjoy a movie. They often have pizza, ice cream, and other snacks when they watch the movie and afterwards when they catch up on that week's happenings.

What her friends don't know is that Lauren binges and makes herself vomit every night before she goes to bed. She does this after most of her dorm mates have gone to sleep so that no one will catch her vomiting in the bathroom.

Lauren's family have started to notice how awful her tooth look and the multiple scratches on her knuckles. When confronted about this, she just tells them that she knows she should take better care of her teeth. She makes up excuses for the scratches on her hands.

Lauren is suffering from Bulimia Nervosa and without medical and psychological help, the consequences of her mental condition could be fatal.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Eating Disorder Awareness

February is Eating Disorder Awareness month.

I will continue to discuss eating disorders this month.

Here are some other resources where you can find information, support, and other resources:

National Eating Disorder Association - you can find out more information about National Eating Disorder Awareness Week here.

Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Something Fishy Website

Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders Inc

Pale Reflections

The Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness

I hope these resources are helpful.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Eating disorders as coping mechanisms

Eating disorders are coping mechanisms.

When one focuses on food, weight, and his or her body image, he or she is avoiding the emotions that underlie the disorder.

A girl's parents get a divorce and she uses self-starvation to deal with her feelings of guilt, hurt, and sadness.

A boy is bullied at school and he uses binge eating in order to stuff his feelings of inadequacy, rejection, and shame.

Oftentimes, individuals who suffer from eating disorders aren't even aware of why they are using them as coping mechanisms. The goal of therapy is to uncover the underlying issues, to raise self-esteem, and to learn how to cope with feelings healthily.

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

Living with Anorexia Nervosa

Reading the diagnostic criteria for Anorexia Nervosa from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is vastly different than hearing the stories of individuals who have suffered with the condition. In this post, I want to offer some insight into what it is like to live with Anorexia Nervosa.

I initially began starving myself at the age of 13 or 14 as a way to lose some weight, to look as thin as my friends looked. I wanted people to compliment my looks like they did with my friends.

Because I attended a residential school for most of my high school career, starving myself was easy. All I had to do was lie to my mother about what I had eaten that day. No one could force me to eat away from home.

When I transferred schools in the middle of my junior year, I was already obsessed with the amount of food I was eating. It became harder to hide my starving behaviors, though, so I gained a little weight during that time.

However, when I moved to college, I began starving myself with a new vigor I never knew I had. I was determined to be thin, beautiful, and perfect. During my college years I lost a significant amount of weight.

It was during this time, too, that I began to have insight into why I was so intent on starving myself. I learned that I used restricting behaviors to cope with feelings I couldn’t handle, especially “negative feelings”.

I began to explore my restricting behaviors in therapy and I learned that being with my family was especially triggering for my eating disorder. When I went home I felt as if I had no control over what happened to me, and I used restricting behavior in order to give myself control over something – my body and weight.

I hated my body so much. No matter how thin I got, it was never thin enough. I thought thoughts like, “I am so fat!” even when I was extremely underweight, “I am eating too much” when I was only consuming a mere 500 calories or less a day, and “I’m still not good enough”.

As I entered into my Master’s program, I continue to starve myself, at least for the first year of my program. When my boyfriend, Dave, moved in during my second year in the program, however, things changed. I actively sought more intensive therapy for my eating disorder and Dave and I worked on getting my weight to a healthy level.

Since then, I have spent a year in recovery from Anorexia Nervosa. I still have plenty of days where I feel I am too fat, not good enough, or as if I am eating too much. But now I know that when these thoughts occur, I need to pay attention to what is going on inside of me. I need to examine my feelings and I need to examine why I feel as if I have no control over my life.

Recovery is possible for you or a loved one who has Anorexia Nervosa. Recovery is a hard and trying journey, one that you or your loved one will be on for many years. But once you’ve achieved a level of recovery, you’ll never want to go back into your eating disorder.

Eating disorders don’t have to control you; you can beat it with professional help, time, and a strong support system.

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