Tag Archives: dieting

Survivors and Eating Disorders

Sorry for the delay- because I could not get permission to repost this article, I have to simply link you to the original.


It is an excellent post on the relationship between sexual abuse survivors and eating disorders.


One other short post, from a friend who survived a long battle with anorexia, on the topic of “pro-anorexia” tips:

I really, really oppose eating disorder tips since I don’t want anyone to ever have to experience the hell I have, but after reading this list of “tips” I felt compelled to share.

1) Turn off all the heat in your house and open the windows wide. Walk around in short sleeves and dip your fingers and toes in bowls of ice water every 10-15 minutes. This will do nothing to help you lose weight but it will help train you for the misery that anorexia brings in the form of being constantly cold. You are not allowed reprieve from this “feel the cold” stage as you will never be warm again until you recover.

2) Visit your hairdresser and ask her to pluck 25-50% of the hair from your head. While you’re at it ask her to overprocess your hair with whatever chemicals she had on hand. If the overprocessing makes you lose even more hair that’s even better. This step will get you used to the dry, brittle, falling out hair you’ll have once you’re nutrient deprived.

3) If you plan on purging you should visit your dentist and ask them to grind all the enamel off your teeth. While there also ask if they can pull out a couple of existing fillings. Your teeth will be wrecked soon anyway so you may as well get a head start and learn what it feels like to have super sensitive teeth once your enamel is gone.

4) Ignore all your friends. Don’t tell them why. Don’t do anything that would give them a chance to try and stop you from cutting them out. You will likely feel utterly miserable. Learn to expect that. You will feel miserable during every day of your eating disorder anyway. The loneliness is a key part of this misery.

5) If you’re in school you should throw away all your textbooks and order their equivalents in a foreign language. This stage will get you started on the cognitive difficulties you will suffer once malnutrition sets in. In a few months of anorexia you will feel like everything is in a foreign language anyway since you can’t read it because your malnourished brain has made you stupid.

6) If you have a job ask your boss to start withholding half your pay. With the amount of sick days you have once your ED is bad you’re going to lose half your pay anyway. This will help you get used to that. In 3 months you should quit your job with no backup plan. This will let you know what it feels like to be fired because your ED made you a lousy employee.

7) Throw away your calendar. Stop asking people their name. Leave your backpack and purse at home every time you go out. You need to learn what it’s like to live without a memory. As well as making you stupid malnutrition will rob you of your memory. Stand up every ten minutes to make sure you turned off the kettle/iron/tap. You know you are forgetful and you are anxious about that. Do this all day every day. You will soon forget why anyway as your memory becomes utterly useless.

8) Throw away all your moisturizer, body wash, anything that makes your skin soft and lovely. Like your hair you need to feel what it’s like for that to be dry and fragile. Think back to the last time you fell down a flight of stairs. With your malnourished body and skin you will feel like that every single day. You will wake up bruised and aching and scraped and you won’t know why. The answer is your ED. The answer to all misery is your ED.

9) Lock yourself in a dark room. Put up spotlights everywhere else in the house. Do not shower. Do not even wash your face. Play music that makes you sad. When it’s time for bed play a c.d. of a jackhammer. The e.d. will rob your ability to sleep well and you need to experience that. If all of this sounds like torture…it is. With this ED you will be sad, scared, and panicked all the time. This emotional hell will rob you of the ability to do tasks as simple as brushing your teeth.

10) Write a list of every good thing you want out of life. Burn it. As long as you have an eating disorder that is all you will have. You will watch every good thing go up in smoke.

If you’ve read this list and still want tips on how to lose weight then I beg you to seek help immediately. This list might be tongue in cheek; not every thing on this list will happen to every eating disorder sufferer, but for every bad item listed there are 101 others not listed.


Eating Disorders Statistics

This week I want to explore the ugly side of fitness: eating disorders. I think I can safely make the statement, that everyone who works in the fitness industry has had a run-in, if not themselves, than with someone suffering from an eating disorder. In an industry that focuses 100% on every aspect of your outward appearance, it is hard to escape the clutches of “am I thin enough”, “am I fit enough”?

To get started, we’re going to look at the boring- but vital- statistics. Some of these are startling, read on:


  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
  • Only 1 in 10 men and women with eating disorders receive treatment. Only 35% of people that receive treatment for eating disorders get treatment at a specialized facility for eating disorders.
  • Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.
  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have eating disorders – seven million women and one million men.
  • 1 in 200 American women suffers from anorexia.
  • 2-3 in 100 American women suffers from bulimia.
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder.
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males.


  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”
  • 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.
  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.
  • 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.
  • 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight.
  • 80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight.
  • 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
  • The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
  • In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.


  • An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
  • Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.”
  • Among gay men, nearly 14% appeared to suffer from bulimia and over 20% appeared to be anorexic.

Media, Perception, Dieting:

  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight within 5 years.
  • 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.
  • The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.
  • 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  • 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
  • 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
  • Essence magazine, in 1994, reported that 53.5% of their respondents, African-American females were at risk of an eating disorder Collins, M.E. (1991).

 For Women:

  • Women are much more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.
  • An estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa in their lifetime. Research suggests that about 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia.
  • An estimated 1.1 to 4.2 percent of women have bulimia nervosa in their lifetime.
  • An estimated 2 to 5 percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month period.
  • About 50 percent of people who have had anorexia develop bulimia or bulimic patterns.
  • 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.

Mortality Rates:

  • Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder,  the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder that  compromised a person’s health.
  • A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover.
  • The mortality rate associated with Anorexia Nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old.
  • 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems.


  • Risk Factors: In judged sports – sports that score participants – prevalence of eating disorders is 13% (compared with 3% in refereed sports).
  • Significantly higher rates of eating disorders found in elite athletes (20%), than in a female control group (9%).
  • Female athletes in aesthetic sports (e.g. gynmastics, ballet, figure skating) found to be at the highest risk for eating disorders.
  • A comparison of the psychological profiles of athletes and those with anorexia found these factors in common: perfectionism, high self-expectations, competitiveness, hyperactivity, repetitive exercise routines, compulsiveness, drive, tendency toward depression, body image distortion, pre-occupation with dieting and weight.


  • Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment.
  • About 80% of the girls/women who have accessed care for their eating disorders do not get the intensity of treatment they need to stay in recovery – they are often sent home weeks earlier than the recommended stay.
  • Treatment of an eating disorder in the US ranges from $500 per day to $2,000 per day. The average cost for a month of inpatient treatment is $30,000. It is estimated that individuals with eating disorders need anywhere from 3 – 6 months of inpatient care. Health insurance companies for several reasons do not typically cover the cost of treating eating disorders.
  • The cost of outpatient treatment, including therapy and medical monitoring, can extend to $100,000 or more.



Body figure perceptions and preferences among pre-adolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 199-208. Mellin, L., McNutt, S., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G.B., Crawford, P., & Obarzanek, E. (1991). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: The NHLBI growth and health study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 23-37.

More Bad News for HCG Dreamers

As I have previously discussed in the article titled, HCG: Only Your Wallet Gets Thinner, HCG is not your best option when looking for a new lifestyle and eating plan- in fact, HCG can be downright dangerous. Though the USA does not currently list HCG as a controlled substance, according to the FDA, Human chorionic gonadotropin is illegal. Read on:

HCG Products Are Illegal

The level of popularity of most weight loss programs/products seems to be strongly correlated with the advertised amount of pounds that people can lose, usually in the shortest possible timeframe. The quicker the weight loss the more popular the diet program seems to be. Although the weight loss obtained with the most popular diets products can be simply explained with the energy balance equation, companies tend to make the consumer believe that there is a magic component in the product that is doing the work for them. The Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) weight-loss products are over the counter products identified as “homeopathic” and recommend users to follow a severe restrictive diet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently released their recommendation regarding “homeopathic” HCG weight-loss products in their latest Consumer Health Information issue, December 2011. The FDA recommends consumers to stay away from these products due to the unsupported claims. In addition, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have issued seven letters to companies warning about selling illegal homeopathic HCG weight-loss drugs that have not been approved by the FDA. This collaborative action between the FDA and FTC is the first step in preventing these products from being marketed online and in retail stores where they are commonly sold as oral drops, pellets and spray forms.

The HCG claims
The products that claim to contain HCG are typically attached to very low calorie diets; approximately 500 calories/day. Companies use statements like “reset you metabolism” and “shave 20-30 pounds in 30 days”. Although the HCG story began in the 50s, no evidence currently exists that shows HCG promotes weight loss by itself without creating a negative caloric balance. Elizabeth Miller, acting director of FDA’s division of Non-Prescription Drugs and Health Fraud said that “these products are marketed with incredible claims and people think that if they are losing weight, HCG must be working. But the data simply does not support this; any loss is from severe calorie restriction. Not from HCG.”

The HCG Legality
The HCG is a hormone that is produced in the human placenta during pregnancy but it is not approved for weight loss or for over-the-counter sale for any purpose. Moreover, a pharmacist at the FDA pointed that HCG is not listed in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, which lists the active ingredients that may be legally included in homeopathic drug products. For this reason, homeopathic HCG cannot legally be sold as a homeopathic medication for any purpose. In addition, David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection stated that “deceptive advertising about weight loss products is one of the most prevalent types of fraud. Any advertiser who makes health claims about a product is required by federal law to back them up with competent and reliable scientific evidence, so consumers have the accurate information they need to make good decisions.”

HCG a Potentially Dangerous Diet
Living on a very low calorie diet is considerably well documented to promote side effects such as gallstone formation, potential electrolyte imbalance, heartbeat irregularities, and various nutrient deficiencies (vitamins, minerals and protein). The HCG diet plan suggests individuals consume 500 calories/day, which is significantly less than the average 2,000 calorie recommended diet. The safe, general recommendation for healthy weight loss is a reduction of approximately 500 calories/day, only a third of the 1,500 calories/day recommended when following the diet plan. “These HCG products marketed over-the-counter are unproven to help with weight loss and are potentially dangerous even if taken as directed,” said Ilisa Bernstein, acting director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “And a very low calorie diet should only be used under proper medical supervision.” This very low calorie diet should only be prescribed under medical supervision for specific conditions such as extremely obese patients with health conditions. Health care professionals should provide credible information to their clients/patients so that they may be able to make appropriate decisions and avoid unrealistic weight loss expectations. (FDA Consumers Health information, December 2011)

Source: Source: http://www.ncsf.org/NewsArticles/0-185/HCGProductsAreIllegal.aspx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

As the article notes, even after the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission both have issued SEVEN letters to companies warning about selling illegal homeopathic HCG weight-loss drugs, sales still continue! Why? Because losing weight is hard; and taking a pill, or a drop that tells you ‘you don’t have to work hard’ is easy. This diet is not safe; and what’s more insulting, the pills and drops you’re taking (and paying good money for) are a placebo- that’s right, FAKE.

Want to read more? Check out this article from ABC news: FDA, FTC Crack Down on Illegal HCG Weight Loss Products

Diet Myths!

Let me start off by apologizing for there being no new articles! For some reason my blog wasn’t publishing :(  Problems have been sorted out, AND this means that we have several articles lined up for next week. On to Diet Myths!

I found this excellent info from Health.com. Next time a friend gives you diet advice make sure to double check her ‘facts’, you could be getting a whole lot of fiction.

Weight loss tips

By Ella Quittner

Let’s face it: The rules of weight loss—eat less, move more, treats in moderation— are a drag. And they don’t fit with most dieters’ quick-fix, thinner-by-dinner expectations. Cue diet crutches: tricks, based on scant science, that may speed up results. So if a friend swears that munching on grapefruit gets her into skinny jeans, or a coworker credits ice water for his sleek physique, should you try it too?

Not so fast. Some diet crutches are helpful, some harmful, and some won’t do much either way. We asked registered dietitians for the bottom line (“skip it,” “try it,” or “do it right”) on the most common diet crutches.

Cleansing” your system

Skip it
It sounds simple: Drink “body-flushing” liquids and eat little or no solid food. But just because celebs do it doesn’t mean you should.

“Will you see the weight loss? Absolutely. But it isn’t safe, in terms of getting the nutrients you need,” says Amy Shapiro, RD, founder of Real Nutrition NYC. Once you eat solid food, you’ll gain back the pounds.

Because the liver and kidneys remove toxins, a “cleanse” is unnecessary and even harmful, says Sonthe Burge, RD, a nutritionist. It can cause diarrhea, “so you can’t go far from a bathroom,” she says. Other side effects: Headaches, lack of energy, and trouble focusing.

Filling up on fiber

Try it
“Fiber is not absorbed well by the body, but is also very filling, which makes it a great choice for people trying to lose weight,” says Natalie Digate Muth, MD, an American Council on Exercise spokesperson.

Dietitians recommend 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day (for both men and women), but most people get less than 15, says Burge. To lose weight, she suggests aiming for 30 grams of fiber per day. To add fiber to your diet, swap out white rice for barley, or add beans to soups and salads.

Don’t go crazy. Too much fiber (50 to 60 grams per day) can cause side effects like flatulence and diarrhea.

Packing in the protein

Do it right
Bad news: Adding more bacon to your diet won’t cause the pounds to melt away. That’s because the addition of protein to the diet doesn’t cause weight loss itself. But switching out a higher fat protein source, such as pork sausage, for a lean one like chicken or salmon does help, says Burge.

“You can’t just eat protein to lose weight. When you do that, your body starts burning fat for energy,” she says, because it will produce ketones, compounds that can be harmful to the brain. But consuming lean protein and good carbohydrates (like whole grains) allows your body to get the energy it needs without the added fat.

Snacking before exercise

Try it
Snacking before your workout? Go for it. While researchers are divided about whether eating before exercise really promotes weight loss, experts say a quick bite might just be a slimming crutch you can count on.

“A small snack before exercise helps to have a more productive workout since it gives a quick energy boost,” says Dr. Muth. This energy boost can lead to a harder workout, which translates to more calories burned. She suggests munching on something high in carbs and relatively low in fat and fiber (like a banana) to minimize stomachaches and cramping.

Skipping meals

Skip it
“When people skip meals, they think they’re saving calories,” says Shapiro. But the habit always backfires. “It can wreak havoc on their metabolism, and they tend to eat more later because they’re voraciously hungry.”

Some research shows that as long as calories stay the same, it doesn’t matter if you eat small quantities more often or large quantities less often.

Eating more small meals may help dieters to quell cravings, though, and it also discourages bingeing later, says Shapiro, who recommends meals of less than 500 calories every three to four hours.

Guzzling diet soda

Do it right
Does diet soda make you skinny? One study suggested diet soda drinkers may gain more weight over time than those who don’t drink it. It’s not clear why, but the brain may anticipate calories when foods taste sugary or fatty, so calorie-free sweeteners may spur people to overconsume later on.

But Burge says awareness is key. “If a dieter were aware that drinking diet sodas may cause cravings later on, I don’t think there would be harm [in having one],” she says.

Did you hear that? One a day—meaning you probably shouldn’t invest in a diet Coke tap for your kitchen counter if you’re serious about weight loss.

Chugging water

Try it
Dietitians recommend staying hydrated all day long. “A lot of times we mistake hunger for hydration,” says Shapiro. “For dieters, it’s important to stay hydrated because then you’ll know when you’re hungry.”

You can over-hydrate, but it isn’t common, says Joy Dubost, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson. Serious overconsumption can lead to a life-threatening condition called hyponatremia (symptoms include nausea, headache, and confusion).

The Institute of Medicine recommends women consume 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters daily (about 11 and 15 glasses of water a day, respectively).

Constantly caffeinating

Do it right
While caffeine can briefly suppress your appetite and acts as a diuretic, it has not been shown to cause real, sustainable weight loss.

Caffeine is thermogenic, which means it triggers the body to burn some calories through heat production. However, this doesn’t seem to be enough to cause weight loss.

It’s safe to boost your energy with a bit of caffeine before a workout, but too much caffeine can be harmful. “It’s a central nervous system stimulant, which can affect your heart rate and blood pressure,” says Dubost. (Keep your daily caffeine to 250 milligrams or less.)

Gunning for grapefruit

Do it right
Grapefruit, a low-cal, high-fiber fruit, has been shown to help obese patients lose weight when consumed in moderation.

But diet plans that promote one ingredient as a “magic” fat burner—as the Grapefruit Diet does—are usually accompanied by a very low-cal meal allotment. That’s where the weight loss comes in.

If you add grapefruit to your diet, be careful not to max out intake; you don’t want to ruin your taste for the nutritious fruit by eating too much, too quickly. Shapiro cautions: “Eating a grapefruit every day won’t help you drop 20 pounds without making other lifestyle changes.”

Trying laxatives

Skip it
Is it ever safe to take a laxative to flush your system of waste and water and make your belly less bloated? No way.

“You definitely would be losing essential nutrients, you’d be at the risk of becoming dehydrated, and you can become dependent [on laxatives],” Dubost says. “Your body was not meant to be taking laxatives.”

A better idea: Introduce more fiber and fluids like water into your system and you’ll flush it naturally.

Cutting portions

Try it
Be your very own portion police.

“All restaurants serve up different portions. I tell my clients to leave half or quarter of their plate,” says Shapiro. “Half can be dramatic because let’s say you just got a piece of fish—you want to eat until you feel satisfied.”

It’s a great way to eat something more decadent, while still adhering to a diet, Shapiro says.

Chewing sugar-free gum

Try it
Chewing more to lose weight seems counterintuitive. But wait—we never said you could swallow!

Some research suggests that chewing gum for 45 minutes after lunch reduces your appetite and cravings for salty or sweet snacks later on.

Dr. Muth says that while the calories burned from chewing gum are minimal, “If you’re chewing gum, maybe you’ll be less likely to be eating food.”

Turning up the heat

Do it right
Adding spices (like cayenne pepper) to food makes you sweat, which may also boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite for certain foods. But these effects may not be significant enough to cause substantial weight loss.

“In the scheme of things, you could add [spices] to foods, but implementing that one little thing won’t help you get there,” says Shapiro. In other words, if you like spice, go for it. If you don’t, it’s not worth burning your tongue to lose a few extra calories.

Cutting carbs

Do it right
Is parting with pasta the best way to part with your paunch, too? Not necessarily.

People on low-carb diets initially drop weight as they lose body water, not from losing fat, says Dr. Muth.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what ‘diet’ someone starts, whether it’s low-carb or low-fat. What does matter is the amount of calories the person consumes and how well they are able to actually stick with the diet,” she says.

Using diuretics

Skip it
Diuretics are no better for your system than laxatives, and the weight loss they provoke isn’t the permanent kind, says Dr. Muth.

“Diuretics force the kidneys to dump lots of water. The weight lost comes strictly from water and can trigger dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities,” she says.

Eating frozen meals

Try it
A frozen lunch or dinner is a great way to stick to your diet, says Shapiro. “It’s forced portion control,” she says.

But, she cautions, some frozen meals are full of sodium, calories, and saturated fat. “A meal should be less than 500 calories and have 5 grams or more of fiber,” she recommends.

One option is Kashi’s Mayan Harvest Bake, which has 8 grams of fiber, but only 340 calories and 380 milligrams of sodium—less than 20 percent of the recommended daily limit.

Quaffing ice water

Skip it
You can stop snacking on ice cubes to lose weight.

Shapiro says clients have asked her whether drinking ice-cold water is an effective dieting trick, “because your body has to heat it to body temperature. It maybe helps you burn a small fraction of calories, but not enough to see significant weight loss,” she says.

Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20517473,00.html

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