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Posts Tagged ‘eating disorders’

I’ve just come across this worrying article, which seems to sum up the damage convenience food is causing to our health. And although there’s always a lot of hype over this subject, this one resonates with me, so I thought I’d share it with you……

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/21/addictive-junk-food.aspx? e_cid=20130321_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130321

Notice what is says about… will-power, causes over-eating, addictions to sugar, deliberate additions to food that makes us more hungry!!!

Take your control, power and appetite back NOW!

Forget the processed stuff as much as you can, and make sure that food bought as ‘healthy’ food is actually what it’s meant to be!

Perhaps it’s time to go back to basic foods now! At least we can see most of what we’re eating…!

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Whilst I’m writing a series of articles under the heading ‘Inside The Mind Of A Fat Person’, I will acknowledge right now that I KNOW that not all FP are unhappy, as there are many FP/TP who have a well-rounded personality, and make the best of themselves and their lives.  So I guess the point I’m trying to make is that whilst all FP may be fat, not all FP have the same problematic issues!

However, FAT is a very explicit word, in that it can create or evoke negative images, distorted perceptions and reactions, terror, depression, and even suicidal tendencies!  FAT is a very powerful word!  FAT can kill you, ruin your life, scare you to death! FAT, just like fear, can make you do things you don’t want to do, and stop you doing the very things that would make your life happy and successful!

In many FP, FAT is all they feel, and thus all they become!  When they catch sight of their body they don’t see themselves as a loving soul – they just see FAT!  When they think about their relationships, they don’t see intimacy, togetherness and love – they see the separateness of FAT!  When they think about their future life, they don’t see opportunities for joy and happiness – they just see the problems associated to being FAT!! Where eventually, ALL they see about themselves is FAT!

The majority of FP hate being fat, so this means that once they’ve reached the ‘Totality of FAT’ they also hate themselves as much as they hate the FAT! Where life becomes a battle of survival against FAT and all that it means! There is little space in this fat, fear-filled world, to feel self-compassion.  As deep down you know you’ve only yourself to blame for what you are!  You deserve all the shit because you’ve not got what it takes to stop shovelling food into your mouth, or to exercise your huge body that makes it so difficult to breathe and move around!

You know this because that’s what the experts tell you isn’t it? They (the never-been-fat, text-book experts) say that it’s easy to lose weight if you do the right things!  Of course we all know it’s easy to lose weight – as long as there’s nothing stopping you from doing so!  Also, how many FP lose weight and keep it off permanently?  So instead of constantly bombarding FP with failure messages, because of failed diets, we should be looking to heal the fragmented personality that is hidden within the FP, so they can consciously recreate themselves and their lives! (I’ll discuss this further in later articles). And stop continually emphasising the negative aspects of being fat!

Most people have days where they look at themselves and feel unhappy about a part of themselves they deem imperfect.  This is normal!  And if it’s something like the hair, nails, colour of lipstick, clothes, superficial things which can be easily rectified, we usually feel better about ourselves once we’ve taken some remedial action.  However, overweight is something that doesn’t have an instant fix!

I feel much better about myself when I am not so heavy, where life somehow becomes easier to tolerate!   Yet even when I’m plump, rather than morbidly obese, I’ve still viewed my body in a negative way. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to completely love yourself.  What it would feel like to be uninhibited about who you are, your talents, your body, you!  How it would feel, to not be ashamed to show who you are to the world!  To not cringe when you walk into a crowded room or meet new people! To not be afraid every minute of the day, that life will never change from how it is, or that you will die an early death because you are fat….!

I imagine that if I was thinner many of my problems would dissolve very quickly! Which is why, like other FP, I yearn to reduce my overweight!

Mind you, I have to be honest and say I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is 100% happy with who they are.  As regardless of how confident people look and sound, there’s always something that each of us feels not good enough about, whether it’s the shape of our body, the colour of our hair, the pimple on our face, or even because we lack certain skills that we perceive everyone else has.  There’s always something to feel ashamed about!

But whereas some things can remain ‘Our little secret’, where you can use avoidance techniques to stop other people realising what you lack, being fat is not one of them!

Whilst there are those who are fat but feel thin, and those who are thin but feel fat, there are of course different types of ‘fatness’.  There are those who are just a little overweight, commonly labelled ‘rounded’ or ‘plump’, ranging to the other extreme where the individual is ‘morbidly obese’ and visibly hugely overweight.  There are those who have slowly or quickly gained weight due to their lifestyle, eating habits or medication, and there are those who have been fat for all, or most of their life!

Then there are others who are normal or under weight, but still perceive themselves as being fat, because they have a psychological condition called…..BODY DYSMORPHIC DISORDER.

People with BDD are excessively worried about a part of their body which they perceive to be defective. For example a small mole on the face may not be that noticeable, but if that person is insecure about themselves, that mole can actually look and feel like a huge mountain to them, even though in reality it’s not! So, as focus on the mole becomes more frequent, where constant attempts are made to hide it in some way, the BDD develops and gets stronger until that person sees nothing about themselves – except the mole!

Whilst any area of the body can be involved in BDD, the face seems most common.  And regardless of how much others offer reassurance that there is no defect, people with BDD continue to believe they are faulty!  And will devise their own ways of trying to hide their defect or themselves away from the world, because they fear being ridiculed, criticised or even noticed!

BDD usually starts in adolescence when people are most insecure and sensitive about their appearance, and is common in people with a history of depression, anxiety or social phobia – because these people already have a distorted perception of themselves and life.  However, I fear that because young children are so much more aware of their physical image nowadays, as obesity issues escalate, the incidence of BDD will be seen more often in younger children. Where their lives will be filled with unnecessary problems, caused because of their conditioned belief that being fat makes you less than other people!

Because BDD often occurs with obsessive-compulsive disorder or generalised anxiety disorder, it may also exist alongside an eating disorder.  However, because FP/TP, and others who experience self-critical problems feel such a strong sense of shame about themselves anyway, they may not realise they have this disorder. Which once identified, can often be treated – just like other mental health problems!

Many FP/TP are obsessive about the way they look.  They worry, fret, anticipate the worst, misinterpret, hide, over-react,  simply because of how they perceive themselves to be.  Just like those with BDD, FP/TP do exaggerate their flaws, it’s all part of their conditioning and their condition. So it’s worth considering the aspects of BDD, and psychological treatment options that involve dealing directly with personality issues, as this may help the individual recognise that maybe they are not as fat as they thought!

**Because I don’t like fixing one problem by creating another, I personally do not advocate taking medication for anxiety/stress, when there are so many other beneficial ways of dealing with it.  Especially Emotional Freedom Technique, which anyone can learn to do, and which can change your whole outlook on life once you’ve learned how to use it for yourself! However, do not stop taking any prescribed medication without first consulting your GP.

Being fat does not mean the end of our world.  It doesn’t mean we are less than others.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be alive, happy, successful or well! But when we are a FP we forget this, as we judge ourselves according to what we believe others perceive us to be – unacceptable as we are! But we are wrong to think this way!  And we are also wrong to think that dieting will magically fix our life and our problems – as it doesn’t always work that way!

If you are a FP, or anyone with a self-defect that dominates your existence, this message is for you…

* Stop living your life as though you are defective – YOU ARE NOT!

* Start to treat each day as a new beginning – the day where you can take new action to get you healthier!

* Stop giving your focus, time and power to your defect – start looking for new, positive ways to improve your life and morale!

Remember that whatever we give our attention to grows! So if you constantly think about how defective you are those feelings, fear and dysfunctions will increase!

Modify your thinking to include more optimistic thoughts about life, and the support you have around you. Then acknowledge to yourself and the world that… you are more than your weight (or defect).  You are a star on this earth, so let your light shine, and allow yourself to be all of whom you are meant to be – regardless of how much you weigh!

Then, once you start feeling happier, your mind and your body may feel safe enough to let go of the need to be overweight!

 

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When I heard that emotional causes of eating disorders are being explored by experts now, in an attempt to understand how to resolve obesity problems, I felt a sense of despair as I envisaged how superficial the information gathered might be!  As whilst there may be common problematic themes within the eating disordered range, I fear the intensity of mental and emotional pain can only be felt in its entirety by the sufferer, and victim of themselves, the Fat/Thin Person. (To avoid repetition now to be referred to as FP/TP).

As often it is this intensity that remains unseen, unfelt, unattended to by experts – because the depth of shame, fear, hurt, frustration and anger can’t be expressed by the FP/TP, simply because it’s too painful for them to acknowledge! And where focus is placed by professionals on losing weight to become normal, rather than helping FP/TP become emotionally and mentally capable enough to reclaim and reconstruct their life!

I’m a FP, and have been most of my life, where as an adult I’ve ranged between 9 stone and 22 stone.  I can tell you that at 9 stone although I felt abnormal (my belief system), I was accepted because I looked ‘normal weight’ so people treated me normally.  Whereas when I reached 15 – 22 stone I looked fat/obese/abnormal, so wasn’t perceived as ‘normal’ by many people! So not only did I have my own self-condemnation to deal with, but also the critical view and spitefulness of other people, and the societal problems created from it, which negatively influenced the way I viewed myself and the world!

Having hovered between this weight parameter for many years, I recognised there is a distinct difference in attitude to how FP/TP are treated! So I get worried when I hear ‘normal-looking’ people who have never entered into the realm of extreme physical distortion, being regularly used as examples of dysfunctional eating disorders. Whilst I acknowledge the suffering they endured because of their personal issues, FP/TP have additional problems to contend with, because of the consequences of their physical appearance, which must also be considered vital to attend to, if they are to recover from their addiction!

Whilst the majority of the population manage their affairs productively, there are many who are unable to think creatively, because they constantly focus their attention on their failed, impenetrable cycle of weight control!

Many people have a poor self/body image, which increases internal stress levels, and which when coupled with feelings of insecurity, abuse, inadequacy, trauma, crisis events, can lead to emotional overload.  Where regardless of age or gender, the person experiencing this overwhelm will naturally seek to remove, disengage from, nullify or console their bad feelings, by finding a way to regain control of how they feel!  This can be through various addictive behaviours, such as using drugs, alcohol, sex, exercise, shopping or gambling, and of course eating, or not eating!

This activity is what we choose to do, based on the way we feel and think!  But it rarely works the way we hope, and as we realise this, our thoughts and emotions get progressively negative, driving us to seek more comfort or consolation. This is how all compulsive addictions, mental, physical and emotional, are created and sustained!

But how can we change the way we perceive ourselves, when we seek the perfection of simply being normal? Or when we feel not good enough on every level, and there is nothing, or no-one, who can convince us our life is worth living whilst we are as fat as we are?

Diets and food restriction used to rule my life, leading to eating disorders that made mincemeat out of my confidence and personality. I followed the dietary guidelines given then, which are totally opposite to those given now!   But now I’m terrified to go on a diet, in case I re-enter my binge-eating disorder days!  Food craving used to rule my existence – now I’m aware that when I get the urge to overeat, something is bothering me and needs to be addressed!  Most of the time I think I’m in control of me, yet I’m still fat, I still comfort eat, I still suffer depressive episodes, I’m still searching for the meaning of life!

Yet I am a trained counsellor and practitioner of eating disorders!  I have all the information, the skills, the techniques – so why am I still suffering the burden of obesity?  This, is the million dollar question. As just like millions of other FP/TP I know the answer is in my own hands.  I know it is my fault, there is no-one to blame except me!  I know no-one can lose weight for me I must do it myself.  I must eat better, take more exercise, change my way of thinking etc., so why don’t I?

BUT I HAVE!  I have changed so much from what I used to be, I am a different personality now, from back then! And although I’ve lost weight and kept it off for many years, even though I didn’t overeat, it quickly came back during the periods when I became overwhelmed emotionally and mentally!

So, if we enter my mind, being the mind of a FP, we will see why it is so hard to feel optimistic about losing the part of us that keeps us safe and protected!  Where instead of crashing when we fall, we bounce back into our self-abusive, comfort zone world of oblivion, isolation and safety!

I hate my body as it is!  I try never to look at it, but of course I do.  When I catch sight of myself in the mirror I abhor what I see.  The hangover (or apron as they call it now), the stretch marks.  The fat belly is the only thing I really see when I look at myself.  That’s because as a child, attention was always drawn to ‘her fat stomach’, where I wanted to die of embarrassment in clothes shops, doing P.E., swimming etc.  So, true to form, I’ve created the self-fulfilling prophecy where I hated my tummy so much, that’s what I I’ve become – my big fat, blobby belly!  Mind you, when I used to get regularly beaten up by a local boy when I was a child, I wished my stomach was even fatter, so I couldn’t feel the pain of his punches so much!

Because I hate my body when it is fat, which overwhelms me because my thoughts constantly bombard me with hateful comments about it, I have dissociated from it by ignoring my body as though it doesn’t exist!  And although I have normal physical sensations throughout my body, my awareness remains in my head and I ignore physical pains, etc! This lack of self-interest means that most of the time I’m guilty of self-neglect, where although I keep myself clean, I rarely visit the doctor, hairdresser.  I rarely wear my nice clothes, I rarely go anywhere special – in fact I’ve become a sort of recluse!  And yet when I’m thinner, I’m the total opposite.  I take care of my looks, my hair, myself.  I love wearing my nice clothes and take a real pride in my appearance – and I love going out to socialise with others!

In fact I love being thinner…..!

I love being able to wear a swimsuit, skimpy clothes, feeling the air on my body – wow it’s so great to look and feel nice!  I love the shape of my slimmer body, and the feel of my skin.  I love how I can move around without effort, and how energetic I feel most of the time.  How my mood is somehow lighter, I’m more friendly and people respond to me in a likeable way. I love feeling good about me!  And I envy people who are normal, who feel this way about themselves all the time!

I hate being fat!! The drudge of carrying all this weight around with me each minute of the day.  The breathlessness, the pains in my knees as I climb the stairs. The frustration I feel with and about myself!  The way I hate my body, myself, my life!  I hate the way I beat myself up constantly about not doing what I know I should be doing!  And as I get older, I hate the prospect of what the future holds for me if I’m unable to lose the excess weight! I hate feeling bad about me- I’ve felt this way for soooo long!

Because I know we feel better about ourselves when we nurture ourselves, I know that if I felt better about my fat body, and looked after myself a bit better, my esteem would increase, leading me to become more optimistic, energetic, spontaneous and carefree!  But feelings of depression linger along with the fat, weighing me down, mind, emotions, body, spirit and soul, making it really hard to motivate myself to fulfil anything other than basic survival needs a lot of the time!

The depression is a really hard challenge to master, as when I feel I’m going downhill I start to panic in case I have another breakdown.  So I have to start remedial work straight away to steady myself.  This usually works now, thank God, where I use various techniques, including EFT, to identify my main issue and release its energy from my system!

However, as all FP/TP will know, along with depression the main problem is fear and anxiety that eats away at the centre of your being, day after day, night after night!  Where however hard you try to think of tomorrow as a new day, a new start, irrationality provokes negative thoughts that ensure your heart and mind are never calm, serene, pacified, hopeful.  But simply waiting for the next surge to erupt that will dictate your next pang of guilt, shame, regret, anger, worry or despair, that needs to be attended to one way or another!  And because your mind is so tired, the body weary, your mind seems unable to identify anything new that can help, so you do what works best for you at that time – eat, sleep, go into panic etc.!

Tiredness becomes more of a problem the heavier you become.  And I’ve realised that the less you do the worse you feel, as when the body remains inactive, the mind becomes over-active! So because overcoming tiredness, depression, negative thoughts, self-loathing, fear of the future, and a deep hopelessness inside, creates a huge burden to carry that makes us want to sit and do nothing, what else can we do at these times but doubt that life will ever improve for us?  Where we believe that we don’t have what it takes to make ourselves normal, so because we’re fat we are doomed!

We have to remember that many FP/TP have lost their optimism because they don’t know how to become normal, so don’t know how to live their life.  It’s true that we need to find a way to help people conquer their fear of themselves and life.  But not by forcing them to reduce their weight, rather by helping them understand that fat or thin, they are worthy of their life.  They are entitled to breath, to live, and to be happy. They need to realise just how competent they are, as if they can survive the way they feel because they are fat and ostracised , they can survive other emotional hurdles!

I am an intelligent, wise, competent, compassionate woman.  And yet for the last few years, since I’ve regained my fat, I’ve disowned my femininity because I’ve been waiting until I got thinner.  Until I could be viewed as normal!  I’ve held myself back from progressing professionally because my thoughts were telling me….’How can you talk about obesity issues when you’re still fat – who would give you credibility?’.  So I hid myself and my opinions, and alas my guidance, away from those who might have benefited from it, because I was too scared and ashamed to show myself to the world….!

But one thing I do know.  I must not allow myself to continue doing this, because we have a nation of children who are growing up with the same problems I had when I was a child. So something has to change, otherwise they will grow up facing the same problems as myself and other FP/TP. So even though I am a fat person, I am writing about obesity issues.  Not to provide a cure, as there isn’t one – except losing weight!  But to emphasise that FP/TP put their life on hold until they get thinner – which is wrong!  This approach doesn’t work to bring correction, as so many FP/TP end up dying too early, with so many unfulfilled dreams!

Of course I advocate healthy guidelines for living. But let’s take the emphasis of being normal weight, where the guidelines are changing all the time, according to whatever expert is flavour of the month!  And when will government and health authorities accept that there is NO NORMAL anymore, and stop trying to fit us into categories that they can control?

I believe that instead of pushing people to be thinner, there needs to be encouragement for them to become more active by providing FREE gym facilities. The government needs to introduce legislation that restricts the amount of sugars that can be added to any food.  The experts need to recognise that FP/TP are not greedy, but needy!  So instead of trying to fit each and every human being into a one- size-fits-all lifestyle, which equates ‘normal’, we should encourage each other to recognise our differences, our skills, and our capabilities, instead of emphasising and condemning us for our one big fault – we are fat!

This has proven a difficult article to construct because I have so much to say on this subject and have had to be succinct.  Also, it has meant that I expose some of deepest thoughts and feelings about myself, as a FP.  Though I wonder if I’ve conveyed just how severe, desolate and catastrophic these thoughts and feelings can be for a FP/TP, when there are so many issues to deal with all at the same time!

I’m feeling more able to cope with my problems now I’ve learned how to cope with myself. But because I’ve suffered me most of my life, I feel passionate about the lack of understanding about what really helps people with eating disorders.  It’s obvious there is no simple, quick fix for eating disorders or any other addictive behaviours.  But we can try to convince FP/TP to believe that life holds miracles for them, which they are holding back from, because they are hiding themselves away behind their weight problem! We can help them find their strength and courage to allow themselves to be!  This is what I’m doing now – allowing me to be me – fat and warts and all!

If we can teach people to live an active life that contains meaning – regardless of their size, they may be able to inject real value into their life, that reduces the need to emotionally protect themselves by using food to self-abuse!

More information about eating disorders can be found in Chapter 14 of my book …

Mentality – How Changing Your Mind Can Change Your Life and the World!

by Chrissie Batten

ISBN 9780956253200 Priced £10.99

Available from Waterstone’s/Amazon/or my website http://www.chrissiebatten.com

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