…For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads…
Audre Lorde, Litany for survival
Have you been on and off diets?
Do you dislike your body?
Do your friends disagree with you about how your body looks?
Are you thinking about getting pregnant?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to get help. Disordered body image, obsessive dieting and exercising, and low self esteem are experienced by many women. In order to get free of these problems, expressing yourself with others, both individually and in groups, is an important part of the healing process. Many women feel so much shame about their body or the way they eat. You may feel you need to keep your eating or lack of eating a secret. Breaking the secrecy and silence is crucial to recovery. It is important that you find a therapist with whom you can develop a trusting relationship. Use your intuition and the recommendations of others to find the right fit for you.
Ask yourself …….Am I a woman with an eating disorder? Take the following quiz……
*Do you worry a lot about gaining weight?
*Are you always on a diet that seems to fail?
*Have you “given up” and gained ten or more pounds very quickly?
*Do you use food to punish or reward yourself?
*Does your eating sometimes feel out of control?
*Do you binge to cope with difficult emotions, purge to attempt to control your weight,
or starve because you think you are too heavy?
*Do you only feel good about yourself when you are at a low weight?
*Do you think you are “fat” when everyone else thinks you are fine, or worries that
you are too thin?
*Do you exercise excessively because you fear gaining weight?
*Does your life revolve around eating, food, and dieting?
Do you see yourself? Now is a good time to reach out and talk to someone who can help you.
If your problem has been a secret, find someone to tell whom you believe will not judge you. If that person does judge you or is uncomfortable, find someone else! It is important not to give up. Once the secret is out, you can begin to seek out the resources you need.
Sometimes a combination of individual and group therapy focused on intuitive eating and size support can be helpful. A doctor knowledgeable in eating disorders and a nutritionist can be an important part of your treatment team. If you are reading this, then you have taken the first step. Don’t give up hope! Recovery is a process and you are taking the first step.
Eating Disorders and Pregnancy
If you currently feel out of control with food, purge food, use laxatives, or are afraid of gaining the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, it is important to get help. An eating disorder is a treatable problem. It goes without saying that the pressure to be thin is never ending for women. Women often feel shame about eating when they perceive their weight to be too high, and they keep their concerns a secret. The problem can take various forms and can be mild, moderate, or severe. If you are considering pregnancy, or if you are already pregnant, this is a good time to get help for you eating problem. You are not alone.
Why getting help is important
Low body weight, or an eating disorder, can interfere with getting pregnant. Among patients seeking infertility treatment, it is estimated that the incidence of eating disorders in women who have stopped menstruating or have infrequent periods is 58%. Your baby’s health will be enhanced, including a lowered risk of low birth-weight, and your health during pregnancy will be improved. Weight gain during pregnancy can be scary for all women or can feel out of control. Getting the support you need can help reduce your fear both during and after pregnancy, thus lowering stress for you and your baby. Pregnancy can be a time of relaxation form the tyranny of the need to be thin. Sometimes women will actually feel comfortable eating differently, and in some cases, this can continue after your pregnancy. The pressure to diet and lose weight quickly after the birth of your baby can lead to feelings of stress, frustration, and guilt. This is a high-risk time for eating problems to recur.
What you can do
Find someone to tell whom you believe will not judge you. If that person does judge you or is uncomfortable, find someone else! It is important not to give up. Once the secret is out, you can begin to seek the resources you need. Individual therapy with someone who specializes in eating disorders is a good place to start, especially to get an evaluation that can lead to recommendations suited to your individual needs. Group programs focused on eating problems, either support groups or therapy groups, can be helpful when they do not focus on dieting. Individual and group therapy together can work very well. There are many forms of treatment available and it is important to find what works best for you, what you are most comfortable with, and what works best from a medical perspective. In finding the right referral, your intuition and instinct are important guides. When you have found someone, you can develop a positive, confidential relationship with a helping professional (your doctor, nurse, or a psychotherapist) who can assist you.