Monday, June 27, 2011

Happy Monday!!

Hope this post finds you enjoying the start of a new week! This post finds me with an extra few minutes to enjoy at my office before things pick up again, and I am hearing LOUD thunderstorms outside!! I kind of like it :)

I am currently working on a few posts that I am really excited to share soon- but for now, I want to direct your attention to a fantastic article that I read this morning. Entitled "How to Talk to Little Girls" by Lisa Bloom, this article addresses the importance of relating and talking to girls using values and interests as points of conversation, rather than appearance. Appearance is the first thing we often comment on, so when we see a little girl we might say "oh! you are so cute!!" "i love your little outfit!" because that is just so easy to do- I sure am guilty of this! Ah!! But Bloom encourages us to reinforce non-appearance based things... for example, what are your favorite books? What are some of the things that you like to do? By engaging them in this way, we model for young girls that there are things more important and worthwhile than appearance, which is the opposite message than the one they typically get.

If you are a mother, an aunt, a cousin...  if you have a sister, if you interact with little girls, work with children at church, volunteer with children in the community, ... please, please read this. You can find the article here. Remember, change starts with us! We can make a difference, one day at a time. Happy reading :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hello, Summer!

Today marks the first day of summer! While summer can bring with it a litany of body concerns and urges to diet and restrict (hello, bathing suit season!), summer also welcomes longer days, opportunities to be outside and sometimes even a vacation! Being the nerd that I am, one of my favorite parts of summer as a high schooler was the summer reading list that I would receive for the following year's English class. I loved going to Barnes and Noble with my mom and picking out all of the books. I still love to read. And, as a way to usher in the summer on a high note, I thought I would make a summer reading list! I plan on reviewing some of these books, as there are a few great eating disorder related books here that I have been wanting to get around to but just haven't had the time! 

[As an aside... if you are struggling with body image and need a boost, check out this post or this one!]

Below are some of the books that I am looking forward to reading... If you have any suggestions or books that you would recommend, let me know what they are!! I love a good book :-).

Monday, June 20, 2011

What's in a Name?

Is anyone else tired of hearing about "Weinergate"? :-) If you aren't sure what I'm talking about... there has been a LOT in the news about Anthony Weiner, a New York congressman who just resigned, who is entangled in a situation involving some lewd photos. Let's just say... I think we've all heard enough. And more than we ever wanted to know. You might be wondering where I'm going with this, because this is not a political blog. Because there has been so much negativity and bad press surrounding Anthony W. this last week, I thought this would be a good time to highlight the positive contributions of someone who is making such a positive difference in the eating disorder field... Dr. Kenneth Weiner!

image source: the brandbuilder
Dr. Weiner is a leading psychiatrist who specializes in treating eating disorders and who co-founded the Eating Recovery Center (ERC) in Denver. He also just started blogging at the Huffington Post. I point this out because I love the Huffington Post, but more so because I really respect the work of Dr. Weiner. His first blog post can be found by following this link and is entitled "Eating Disorders and the One Thing You Need to Know About Them."

Dr. Weiner has over 25 years of experience in treating EDs, and founded ERC with Dr. Emmett Bishop in 2008. (Check out the site here.)You might remember a post a few months ago that I wrote after my trip to Denver (follow this link if you missed it), but my experience there was wonderful. The treating professionals are experts and leaders in the field, and are doing so much to educate and support individuals and families impacted by eating disorders. In his first post for the Huff Post, he drives home the point that eating disorders are the deadliest mental illness around. It's great that he is blogging on such a well read forum, as education and myth busting about eating disorders is needed-- it is so crucial that these facts are getting out there. To read more about his career, check out his bio on the ERC website here. And remember, especially on a Monday!!- that a little positivity can go a long way!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yoplait Listens

I received an email update Tuesday from NEDA announcing the information below (scroll down to read the press release). The gist? Yoplait (yogurt) has been running commercials that are not sensitive towards those suffering from eating disorders or those who are pre-disposed to developing them. I haven't seen any of these advertisements, so I can't speak to the content, but that is irrelevant. The point is that NEDA's Media Watchdog Group rallied and I thought I would share it as a reminder that we have the power to make a difference!! For more information on NEDA's Media Watchdog program and how you can be involved, follow this link

‘Kudos to Yoplait,’ Says
National Eating Disorders Association

Company Agrees to Remove Troubling
Advertising Campaign From the Air

SEATTLE — June 14, 2011 — For Immediate Release — The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) applauds Yoplait and parent company General Mills for their sensitivity in agreeing to remove an advertising campaign that many felt had negative implications for people suffering from eating disorders or those with a pre-disposition to developing such an illness.

According to Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA – after conversations with General Mills executives Eric Galler, vice president of marketing, Yoplait, and Jeff Hagen, director of consumer services – the company agreed to discontinue the concerning ad campaign, which contained language NEDA says is a trigger for those most vulnerable. Due to advertising buys, however, the spot may continue to be seen in some markets over the next few weeks, but will be pulled as quickly as possible according to the company.

Commented Grefe, “The language in this advertising campaign was seriously problematic for those affected by eating disorders and anyone who may have a predisposition towards developing one. We applaud Yoplait and General Mills for taking the time to speak with us, listening to our concerns and their quick action to provide a solution. I believe the company had no intent to harm and gained insight into a very serious issue that we hope will influence their marketing decisions in the future. Congratulations to any and all who may have written to the company with concerns. And thank you again, Yoplait and General Mills, for assuming a leadership role in corporate responsibility and accountability.”

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in Seattle, Wash., is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Binge Eating Disorder

I had a chance to catch up last week with a friend of mine who works for a residential treatment facility in the area, and we were both acknowledging that there has been an increased trend recently in phone calls from people seeking treatment for binge eating disorder. I know that this is true of my practice. It's been awhile since I've talked about binge eating disorder on my blog, and after I read an article yesterday on ABC about it (another blog post for another day-- soon!), I thought today was a good time to do that! 

Currently, binge eating disorder (BED) is not recognized as its own eating disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used to diagnose psychiatric and psychological disorders. However, the DSM-IVTR is being revised and a new version will be released in the not too distant future (scheduled for 2012). In that version, BED will be recognized as its own disorder, rather than an 'eating disorder not otherwise specified' ('ednos'), as it is characterized now. Among eating disorder professionals however, binge eating disorder is certainly treated as a disorder in its own category.

How do you know if you suffer from binge eating disorder? Let's first define a 'binge.' Some people will say they binge, but when it comes to eating disorders, a binge can be relative in the eye of the beholder. Someone with anorexia might define a binge as two servings of crackers. That is not a binge. A binge is when one consumes an unusually large amount of food in a discrete period of time. Below are the criteria which define BED:

  • Recurrent binge eating
  • Binge eating episodes include 3 out of the 5 following behavioral characteristics: guilty, depressed, disgusted after eating; eating large amounts of food without being hungry; solo eating episodes/secret or hidden eating; very rapid eating;  eating to the point of physical discomfort.
  • Significant distress about binge eating
  • Binge eating episodes at least 2 days a week, over the course of 6 months
  • You do not meet the criteria for anorexia or bulimia, and there are no regular or consistent compensatory behaviors (purging of any kind)
  • source: Carlos M. Grilo. Eating and Weight Disorders. Psychology Press, NY: 2006.
If you do not meet the above criteria, it does not mean you do not struggle with binge eating. It also does not mean you don't have an eating disorder, or struggle with disordered eating. Any patterns with food that cause you distress and that are unhealthy are significant and need to be addressed! If any of these behaviors sound like you, I would encourage you to consider talking with someone. You can live and walk in freedom from food, and it doesn't have to take over your life! If you do not know where to start, there are resources available. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to shoot me an email- Also, check out the Binge Eating Disorder Association here!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Race for the Cure+Beating the Body Image Blues

Saturday morning- June 11 to be exact, I had the chance to participate again in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Raleigh, NC. I love being able to participate in this particular event, as breast cancer has impacted my family in a significant way. Last year, I wrote a post about body image that I thought I would re-post in light of the weekend's event.

The Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure took place in Raleigh, NC this past Saturday, and it was such an inspiring event. It held special meaning for me, as I have a grandmother and an aunt who have both battled breast cancer-- and survived!!! My aunt was actually in town from Oregon for follow up care at Duke, so we formed a team and all participated in this event together. I have heard that participating in a Komen race is very different than other races, and as a first time participant, I think I learned why that is. First, there were SOOO many people that participated. If you look at the picture below-- it is a little tough to make out-- but as far as you can see, there are people that fill up the streets. [This year, in 2011, 25k people were expected to be at the event! Don't know what the final numbers were though!]  

The other thing that seemed different to me was the heart and spirit that is so palpable at this event. I think that most people participating had been touched in some way by breast cancer. While my grandma and aunt are survivors, not everyone wins their battle with breast cancer. One of my friends that participated on our team lost her mother to the illness. Many, many people have lost loved ones to this illness and it is really heartbreaking. While statistics differ, one in 8-9 women will suffer from breast cancer!!

The picture below is actually a shot of a few of the women that were on our team-- "Breast of Friends" : ) and you will notice the hot pink paper on these women's backs. These hot pink sheets of paper served as memorials to write names of people that you were walking in celebration of (survival), or in memory of, for those who have passed away. It was really sobering and emotional to see all of the names of people who have lost their lives to this illness. I think anytime, with any illness or disease, seeing names or faces make an impact because it personalizes the illness. In talking to my aunt over the course of her visit to Raleigh, she shared with me that battling and surviving breast cancer has changed her life and the way that she lives it in so many ways. One thing that she said that stood out to me was that she is thankful every single morning when she wakes up and realizes how blessed she is to be alive, and to have a body that works and is healthy. 
This really impacted me and made me consider how her wise words can be applied to those of us who have not battled breast cancer! First, I think that her attitude of thankfulness is one to be emulated. There are a million ways that an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness can impact us-- as well as those around us. Whether it means that we worry a little less, we appreciate what we have more, or take our eyes off of what we lack and what we wish we had by focusing on what we do have, it is always good to have perspective, and to live in a way that reflects that attitude.

Secondly, I think that this relates to body image and the ways that we think of and care for our bodies. I want to be clear, like I am often, that eating disorders are a mental illness. Part of having an eating disorder (diagnostically) is experiencing a severe disturbance and preoccupation with your weight, shape, size, body-- so this is in no way meant to minimize the severity and nature of these thoughts. What I will say though, is that for those of us who struggle with body image and have a negative self-image, this may be a good reminder and an encouragement about all that our bodies can do for us, and how blessed we are to have bodies that are able to function how they are supposed to, that allow us to be active, and that allow us to experience life! Yes, it may be upsetting when our jeans fit more snug; yes, it may get you down when you flip through a magazine and see nothing but airbrushed 'beauties'; and yes, it may be frustrating when you don't feel good about yourself! These are all feelings that we women have experienced before, so you are not alone! But I will encourage you with the words of my brave aunt, who said that she wakes up every morning, thankful to be alive and to have a body that works. Rather than focus so much on the way that our bodies look, maybe if we start to appreciate all that our bodies do for us, and the fact that they allow us to experience life, we may begin to embrace our bodies a little more and appreciate them for what they are and what they do for us.

For more info on beating the body image blues, click on the links below to check out the following posts:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Recovery... Again!! + Support for Parents !!

I recently wrote a few posts on recovery, based on a compilation of  quotes from different professionals in the eating disorder community. I wrote these posts after a reader asked about recovery from an eating disorder, and whether or not it is possible to fully recover. This, of course, begs the question- what is recovery? And what does it look like? These are questions that don't have a definitive answer, or an answer agreed upon by professionals! Just this weekend, I read an article that was published in the NY Times back in April, which  explores recovery. It provides an interesting perspective and one that I thought I would share here for those (like me) who may have missed it. Follow this link to check it out.

Check out the other recovery posts here, which provide different perspectives: #1, #2, and #3

In other news, Project HEAL [to learn more about their awesome non-profit and what they are doing, check out these posts: Q&A with Project HEAL #1; Q&A with Project HEAL #2] is launching a new parents network that is essentially a resource for parents of eating disorder sufferers in NYC (Thursday, June 23rd) and on Long Island (Wednesday, June 22nd). For more info, check out this link.

Finally, speaking of parents!, I wanted to share a link to a fabulous blog post that I read today, written by my friend Nancy Matsumoto- it has some important tips for parents included! She writes about one of my favorite movies-- Little Miss Sunshine! Mealtime Parenting Tips from Little Miss Sunshine

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Accentuate the Positive

I may or not have just spent the last ...ohhh 10 minutes googling the phrase 'Accentuate the Positive+ Disney movie' .... And apparently, I'm not the only person who has performed this google search!! It appears that a lot of other people have Asked Jeeves and ChaCha the same thing, and haven't been able to get a straight answer. I am so confused right now. Haha. Anyways, the point is that I have had this song stuck in my head for a few weeks, and the best I could come up with is this video below of Bette Midler and Bing Crosby singing this song together. It is just sooo bizarre to me because I have never heard them sing this song in my life (to my knowledge). I have no clue why, how or where this song popped into my head. I am absolutely convinced that it was played in some movie I watched when I was a kid.. the closest thing to it that I could think of was 'Bare Necessities' which was in the Jungle Book, but that is not it.  

Anyways, tangent! The purpose of me bringing this song up in the first place has to do with the power of positive thinking-- and talking. Let me clarify though because I am not really referring to the kind of positive thinking that 'The Secret'  promotes... that putting positive energy out into the universe yields positive events, etc. I'm just talking about plain old positivity. How often have you been around someone that is cheerful, positive, friendly and genuinely complimentary of people, and just felt really good after spending time being around that person? Likewise, have you ever been around someone who is negative or critical of themselves or others, and always has a negative comment about something? How does it make you feel?
Over the past few months, I have become really aware of the power and influence that people have to either build you up and make you feel good and positive (not just about yourself but about life in general), or uncomfortable, insecure, and/or self-critical. This relates to body image in that when we fat talk ["my butt is huge", "i can't believe i ate that", "i feel soo fat right now", "that person is so skinny, i'm jealous", "i'll never have the body i want", "that girl's body is perfect", etc..], we are automatically influencing and impacting the people that are around us, whether we intend it or not. While we may just be thinking of ourselves when we make such comments, we are putting others in a position to consider those same questions or concerns that are usually unhealthy and unproductive. It's okay to have a vent session sometimes, no one is perfect of course, but even if for the sake of others, consider the words that come out of your mouth! I think it is awesome that we can use our words to build people up. Pointing out the positive things in any given situation, voicing good traits about people instead of annoying ones :-), noticing beauty of all kinds, being able to appreciate it and include others in it... These are all ways that one person can make a difference. Try it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The World Has Curves

What a cool name for a book! Apparently I'm a little late to the party, because this book, The World Has Curves: The Global Quest for the Perfect Body, has been out for about 2 years. I came across it the other day for the first time. It is written by Julia Savacool, who interviewed nearly 100 women in eight different countries to examine what beauty around the world looks like. This sounds a lot like Jessica Simpson's VH1 show, The Price of Beauty, that was on awhile back (I wrote about it here). Anyways, while I haven't read this book yet, I am looking forward to checking it out! Stay tuned for a summer reading list I may post on here soon. 

As I've said, while I haven't read this book (yet), I have read a few reviews, as well as an interview that Savacool gave. Below are some snippets that I think are worth sharing!

South Africa: "When you lose a lot of weight there, people immediately start asking if you're sick," Savacool said. The spread of AIDS has caused thinness to be associated with illness. An interesting consequence  is that Levi's [denim] have begun selling a special cut of jeans to flatter curvier South Africans; the style is not yet available in the United States (

Jamaica: Curves are most definitely embraced, but naturally thin women are occasionally driven to consume high-fat 'chicken pills' in an effort to gain weight. For young women in Jamaica, it's socially essential to have curves as the most popular dance style relies heavily on shaking what you got (

It seems that this book might suggest that female body ideals reflect the social and economic climate of the particular culture in question. This is relevant in light of our own societal body and beauty ideals and how we interact with them. It also provides a context for the way in which we view beauty! This is always a good reminder and something to think about, especially when the weather begins to warm up and it's time to bust out the bathing suit!! For more on the book, follow this link.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Celebrate Life.

I had an experience yesterday that really made me stop and think. I had a free hour in my schedule allotted for lunch, so I sat on the comfy red couch in my office, ate my lunch, caught up on some emails.. and then read a story that both broke my heart and inspired me. I happened to be reading a blog post about a particular blogger's neighbor (blogger in question, Caitlyn Boyle- author/creator of Operation Beautiful)... these two women were gardening in their yards and began talking.. and Tonya, Caitlyn's neighbor, revealed that she was having a 'cancer party.' Cancer party?! Caitlyn thought that this meant that Tonya was hosting a fundraising event to benefit cancer patients/research.. when in fact, Tonya shared with her that she was actually diagnosed one week prior with an inoperable brain tumor. The words of this 32 year old woman, wife and mother of a 2 year old and a 3 year old: "I'm still trying to wrap my mind around things but I feel so positive and trust that God will take care of me and my family. I wanted to throw a party to celebrate life."   

At this point in the story, I was getting off the couch in my office, reaching for the kleenex and making sure my mascara wasn't smearing across my face. Apparently she had been experiencing migraines for quite some time, and after going through different medical tests, a tumor was found. Her medical expenses, transportation, and childcare (as a result of the tumor), etc. are beyond what she and her husband can afford. The medical costs could exceed upwards of 100k. If you are interested in reading more about her or donating anything to help her, you can find out more and how to do so here.

I think what touched me so much about this story is that Tonya's response to her diagnosis was to celebrate life. Her attitude is so remarkable in that it is one of gratitude in the face of extremely scary, overwhelming and uncertain circumstances. I felt (and still feel) impacted by her attitude in such a powerful way.. and have been reminded again what it looks like to live a life that is characterized by gratitude. This was also a great reminder to me that we don't choose our circumstances, but we certainly choose our actions, reactions and responses to such circumstances. Our responses reveal so much about our character and who we are as people! One thing that I'm all about promoting is a healthy beauty ideal, and I would say Tanya is beautiful. I love this quote by Roald Dahl- "A person who has good thoughts can never be ugly... If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely." A good attitude, good thoughts and a smile= beauty.
photo credit:

On this day, I want to celebrate the life of my mother, who is beautiful, lives a life of gratitude and serves others well. Today, consider all that you have to be thankful for and take joy in those things. We are only given one day at a time.. take each day and celebrate the life you have been given. 
Happy Birthday Mom !!!