Monday, August 22, 2011

Sandy Naiman: How I got an eating disorder at 62

If you haven't had the chance, please read this article, "How I got an eating disorder at 62" by Psych Central's blogger Sandy Naiman. I found many interesting points and provided answers to my EDNOS diagnosis.

Here are my thoughts from the article:

I’m 62 and 5-ft. even. I’ve been an extreme yo-yo dieter my whole life, but it’s growing harder and more oppressive every day.
Harder and more oppressive every day is how I see my own dieting journey. Losing weight and dieting became increasingly impossible, my motivation and "willpower" to succeed was slowly replaced by anxiety and disdain of deprivation.

Disordered eating is defined as any sort of irregular eating behaviour that, while not exactly healthy, doesn’t fit the characteristics required for an eating disorder diagnosis. Chances are good that you’ve observed disordered eating at some point while listening to a group of women agonize over restaurant menus.
Recently, NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) successfully pulled a Yoplait yogurt ad from the air due to the portrayal of diet negotiating language as healthy and normal. It's very common (I too, thought this was normal and healthy) but it's not healthy or normal. I blogged about the Yoplait ad here. 

"Anorexia, bulimia and what are known as “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)” – including binge-eating disorder – are serious, potentially fatal mental illnesses, according to a 2011 report by the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED).
Once I stopped purging twenty years ago, I was no longer bulimic, but I knew that nothing changed psychologically. But if I didn't have bulimia, what was wrong with me? It wasn't until I entered into therapy that I learned about EDNOS, and now I can at least put a name and get treatment to get out of this hell hole.

“It’s well accepted by leading researchers that eating disorders are genetically pre-disposed, tend to run in families and have nothing to do with metabolism,” Tartakovsky says.

"Your metabolism is just slow," is a common catchphrase many well-intended people would tell me. I'm glad to know that the genetic aspect of my condition has nothing to do with my metabolism.

“Furthermore, genes turn on and off all the time,” Woodside explains. “Some genetic loading may be activated by dieting – this may be the most common environmental trigger – and other loading may be activated by other factors, such as the biological changes that occur in puberty.”
Holy cow, this is me. I discovered in cognitive therapy that all of my overeating, bingeing and obsession with junk food is directly related to decades of dieting. I can recall the feelings of dred and deprivation when my synchronized swimming coach told me to lose weight at the age of 13.

In her clinical practice, Bulik has seen adults with three manifestations of eating disorders. The illnesses can: start in adolescence and persist through mid-life, start in mid-life, occur in adolescence, with a recovery period, then recur in mid-life.
I'm the first manifestation, starts in adolescence and persists through mid-life. After 23 years, I'm tired of food and weight ruling my life.

Wow, I may be on the way to becoming a normal, healthy eater who is not ruled by cravings, anxiety and five wardrobes spanning various sizes, but that can come undone by a major life-event. Good to know. 

“I didn’t want to preach against obesity,” Gura said. “I wanted to move to a better place in my life, to stop struggling, to accept myself.”
Yes, I want the struggle to end.


These disorders are obsessions. They are not choices. They’re an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, against your conscious wishes.
Obsession is how I often describe myself. Obsessed with the food I eat, obsessed with food I shouldn't eat, obsessed with my weight.

The addiction is to the behaviour of dieting, not the food, explains Woodside.
I didn't understand this statement until a friend said, "I know what makes me overeat, it's all about the carbs." That's when I understood it's not about the food (sweets, bread, french fries) it's about the behaviour that comes from dieting. If a diet tells me to limit carbs, I think about carbs, I crave carbs, I develop anxiety stemming from a fear of eating carbs, anxiety increases feelings of hunger, and I eat carbs to relieve the anxiety. It's not the carbs, it's rebelling from restricting yourself from eating carbs.

Both Bulik and Woodside say they are upset by the shortage of clinics and psychiatrists and psychologists treating eating disorders because they are misperceived as illnesses only affecting adolescent girls and young women.
In addition, do doctors recognize the more subtle signs of EDNOS in their patients? My family doctor completely dismissed me when I tried to get help a few years back telling me that, "dieting is hard for a lot of people."

The average waiting time for an assessment is now four months at Toronto General Hospital.
Wait times at clinics far from my house always deflated my resolve to get help. I went to a private cognitive behaviour therapy clinic. I called and had an appointment shortly thereafter. Expensive, but I was worth the investment.

What do you think? Does this article speak to you?

Previous post: French fries vs. the chef's salad

1 comment:

  1. Anyone having problems with Blogger? The formatting looks terrible as any time I attempted to fix spacing and fonts it would move paragraphs to the end of the post. So it looks terrible, but I'm just going to have to live with it...


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