Thursday, July 30, 2009

Latest food craving

I'm short on time and a bit of blogging lately. This week has been crazy busy, and I'm having a tough time keeping track of everything I have to do. Hopefully, by the end of the weekend, I'll have a little more time to catch up on blogs, news, etc.

I leave you with my latest food craving of plums and nectarines.

In front are sweet flesh nectarines. I like to affectionately call "spaceship" nectarines. They are smaller than normal nectarines and are sweet. I tend to like nectarines much better than peaches. I think it is the "fuzz" texture I don't like in peaches. I guess I could never live in Georgia. ;-)

The plums to the left are sweet plums, branded as "
dino" plums. The ones on the right are golden plums. Both are good but the dino plums are sweeter. Though buying fruit doesn't seem like a big deal, these are definitely not things I customarily buy. However, I found myself craving them, therefore, I went ahead and bought them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Socializing times

Lately, I haven't talked much about how my socialization goals were going. At the beginning of the year, the goal was to get out and socialize more with people which also included lessening the food anxiety. Some of you might remember these socialization posts:

Friday night socialization
When you don't know what you're having for dinner
Dinner update which follows previous post
Spontaneous moment with pizza
Adventures in spontaneity

Now of course, you don't have to read all these posts, they just give an idea of where I have been on the socialization/food anxiety scale. Socialization scale low, anxiety high.

Since April, I've had at least one social get-together with various friends a month. They've mostly been outings for lunch or dinner with general visits attached. On all these occasions, I've actually had some lower anxiety while also enjoying the company. It's not that I didn't like hanging out with my friends before, but rather that there was always a glass ceiling type effect. I'd get to a certain point, but then find it difficult to shatter the glass and breakthrough to a place of
real enjoyable-ness. Instead, I was still too worried over the food or their perceptions of me.

The last few social outings consisted of Thai dinner with a friend whom I had not seen in awhile and several visits with with a another friend, K. where we've had Chinese buffet and Indian food. Today, I'm having brunch with another friend whom I have not seen in awhile, and next week, possibly dinner with someone else. I'm excited about both outings and hope to be able to catch up in general conversation with them.

So slowly, I'm learning to let go of some of the anxiety. There is no longer a feeling of dread or how I'm going to look, even on those days when my body image is very poor. It's like that Nike commercial of "Just Do It."

This is not to say that I'm completely care-free over social outings with food. I'm finding a lot really depends on the company (still have issues with strangers or people I do not know well) and that it is more on my terms. But as with everything, it's all a learning process with that nice little bell curve.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

This woman's work

Sorry for my lag in posting lately. I have a few posts in mind but just haven't gotten them written down fully yet.

I'm going to stray off topic for a moment and talk about Wednesday night's episode of
So What You Think You Can Dance. The couple, Melissa and Ade danced a Tice Diorio piece by Maxwell, a cover of Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" about a woman struggling with breast cancer. It was beautifully danced, wrought with so much emotion.

This piece reminded me of my mother's own breast cancer nearly 13 years ago. I often wonder if I was enough of a support for her, since I was riddled in ED Land. My mom has told me I was one of the only people who treated her like she wasn't sick, that she wasn't going to die, that she was still human. I wonder about that now and whether it was more to do with the fact I had a strong feeling she was going to beat her cancer or whether that was the only way I knew how to deal with it. She's thanked me for treating her like she was "normal," but I think I still hold some guilt for not truly being there in presence. My body was there, but my mind was in some distant universe. And I feel a sense of anger at myself for the ED taking such a huge role in my life at that point-- a point when things could have turned around possibly.

:sigh: There's no point in feeling guilt now. I was just reminded of that time in my life and how I wish I could have done things differently.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Making therapy more useful

I recently read an interesting article by Scott Miller entitled Supershrinks: what is the secret of their success?
Though this is geared towards the professional psychologist/ therapist, there are examples in other areas of study in which he applies the same kind of thoughts.

So what is a
supershrink? It's a term to describe the exceptional therapist. These are therapists who not only have a low drop out rate but are effective in helping their client make changes in their lives.

From various studies, Miller says:

We know that who provides the therapy is a much more important determinant of success than what treatment approach is provided. The age, gender, and diagnosis of the client has no impact on the treatment success rate, nor does the experience, training, and theoretical orientation of the therapist.

The article goes on to talk about what makes supershrinks and the formula for success.

This article reminded me of my therapy session a week ago which was the week where I mostly discussed eating disorder issues. My therapist C. is blunt and clear that eating disorders are not her specialty. I already knew this when I began seeing her again last year after a 6 1/2 year hiatus. (Side note: July 5
th marked 10 years ago from when I first met her. Why I remember this date, I have no clue)

The appointment was slightly frustrating on both ends, because, well, that was what I wanted to talk about. C. has always let me take the reins of what to discuss when I first arrive. Lately the eating issues, anxiety over work, and family have dominated my mind much more than the trauma-related issues, so C. was very understanding and supportive of discussing these topics. I was honest with her, even telling her about my
eye which you would have been blind not to notice.

When the session ended, she asked if this was helpful. It was but her reiteration of "my specialty isn't eating disorders" ruminated with me. After reading this article, it segued nicely into exactly what I wanted to say to her.

On Monday, I asked her if she was familiar with the article (she said it sounded familiar), pointing out that it was the
clinician that made the difference, not the specialty or treatment intervention. I told her this, because in some bizarre sore of way I wanted to reassure that yes, she was still helping me even if her specialty wasn't eating disorders (and I wasn't exclusively seeing her for that anyway). She then told me why she felt she wasn't very good with ED people, mostly because she felt like she wasn't able to truly help them enough--that some behaviors would lessen but they still left unhappy. I understood this but pointed out that notoriously (and yes, I hate saying this, it's a horrible label) eating disorder clients are difficult populations, take many years to treat, (I'm truly not saying this in a mean way, just that it is often very hard to break through the mindset of ED individuals) but that lessening destructive behaviors is progress.

What was nice about this exchange we had was that it allowed for us to effectively communicate better. I finally got a better sense of why kept saying
EDs were not her specialty, though I actually think she is more effective than she thinks (another college friend of mine saw her for awhile and also agreed). I learned that she felt perhaps by saying EDs were not her specialty that maybe she was closing me off from really discussing that area of my life. That was true after the session a week ago. I was really hesitant to bring up any ED-related topic at all in fear that she was going to ditch me and refer me to someone else. I should say this would be the understandable, ethical thing to do if I got to a state where she no longer felt comfortable in treating me.

The point of this post is about communication. I think there are many times we, eating disordered or not, have difficulty in discussing what might be working or not working in therapy. Or (if you are anything like me and worry immensely of what other people are thinking of you, including professionals who are there to help you), we are afraid of upsetting the therapist, not truly revealing what we feel even if there is a high comfort level already established. That session was such a fabulous reminder of this and why I continue to see C.

Note--*This post is not to say that you should see an ED specialist or not, but rather that much depends on the individual/ clinician and what the relationship is between therapist and client. Sometimes, more progress can be made with an ED specialist, while at other times there is no bearance whatsoever.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Late bloomers

I read an interesting Huffington Post blog entry by Lloyd Sederer, a psychiatrist in NYC. His post referenced an article written by Malcom Gladwell in the New Yorker last fall called "Late Bloomers," where Gladwell discussed the idea of genius and precocity based on a Chicago economist named David Galenson. Galenson theorized that creativity among literary poets could have success at a later age in life versus peaking early and petering or burning out as his colleagues suggested.. Indeed, Galenson found this to be true. In both writing and in film, he found examples like Robert Frost, Daniel Defoe, Mark Twain, Alfred Hitchcock, and a number of others who would have all been considered late bloomers.

Galenson used Cezanne as a prime example for his thoughts about the success of late bloomers. He felt that late bloomers simply bloomed late, because they just weren't very good until late in their careers. Gladwell suggested something else as to the success for a later bloomer. After reviewing the biography of Cezanne, he theorized that his success was also contingent on love--the support of others close to him. This was sometimes difficult since Cezanne apparently couldn't draw at a young age and was known to slash and throw paintings out of impatience. Despite this, he still had supporters willing to stand by him.

Sederer does in this post is relate the idea of those with mental illnesses as "late bloomers." He says ..."their illnesses have slowed them down, made emotional and vocational development difficult often since adolescence, and test not only our patience but theirs." Although Sederer is referring to schizophrenia, bipolar, and severe, recurrent, depression, eating disorders can easily be added to the list here, especially those of us who have had eating disorders a long time and may even have been labeled "chronic" at one point. As he points out, "But those who would write them off, conclude they are fated to a life without contribution are not seeing their prospects for recovery--and thus put in peril the faith and support they need from thier loved ones, their friends, and their doctors."

I think for recovery to happen in eating disorders or any other illness, there must be some form of support. We need supporters, like family, friends, and professionals who continuously believe in us, that we can recover, even when we do not believe in this ourselves. We need for them to have blind faith in us.

Yes, I know there
are some people in our lives who must step away from us for a number of various reasons. Maybe it is for themselves, that they can't endure to watch us self-destruct. Maybe we are a trigger to them. Maybe they need a break to take care of themselves more. But the ones who remain with us can become some of our staunchest allies and impact us greatly through the process of recovery.

In a sense, maybe all of us in eating disorder recovery/recovered are "late bloomers." Maybe recovery will be one of our ultimate successes. If you substitute certain words, this
sentence by Galenson sums us up well: (parentheses are my own suggestions for words substitutions)

The Cezannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition (desire to recover), but because the kind of creativity (change in thinking) that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.

To me, it is a combination of all these things that further our recovery efforts. Patience, persistence, and love from supporters is indeed helpful, just as it is that we learn to swim through the currents and become our own late bloomers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A lapse on a slippery slope

Sarah from Bearing, Eating, Being blog told Cammy in a recent comment: "Slips and lapses can be turned around if you recognize what you've done and take immediate steps (as in THAT DAY) to change them."

In eating disorder recovery, there are bound to be slips, lapses, and even relapses (though I disagree that that is a requirement). It truly does matter how we respond to each event in determining whether we slide down the slippery slope or continue to climb our way back to the top. Sometimes, it's an easy choice to climb back up the slope, while at other times, you feel doomed and propelled downwards whether it is a conscious choice or gravity simply pulling you down.

I say all this, because I experienced a horrible lapse Sunday after already being tipped on the edge of the slippery slope. I purged for the first time in over 8 1/2 months which sums only a handful of time in the last year in a half. Somehow, I feel the need to justify myself--was in crippling stomach pain, doubled over, could barely walk, but really what average person thinks about purging when they are in severe pain? Despite feeling much better afterwards, not like some euphoric high but just better physically, there were after effects. This after
effect, I had forgotten about, one that has not happened to me in all my ED years.

Subconjuctival hemorrhage, the medical term for a rupture of a blood vessel in your eye.

Yes, that is my eye in all its bloody glory. Seriously though, I was shocked when I saw this the next day as I was leaving for my therapy appointment. At first, I was very concerned, but after talking to my optometrist, I realized there wasn't much that could be done except a cold compress, prescription drops if there was pain, and waiting 10-14 days for the blood to reabsorb. I spoke to a friend about how this could have occurred since it has not in my many years of ED. Her answer, "well, you're older, your body is older and reacts differently, and EDs are cumulative."

In essence, this proved to be yet another reminder at the ill effects of purging. I know
subconjuctival hemorrhage occurs with other things like a violent sneeze or cough, but there is such an element of shame in the fact that it was purging that caused this. At least, this is the way I feel about it. A few people have asked me about it, and I admit, I make up an excuse that something hit me in the eye. I know I could very well say I was violently ill with stomach bug and vomited, but somehow, that feels too close for comfort.

I truly know it is useless to self abuse myself further by dwelling on this incident. I am positive that purging is NOT going to become a habit again. But the question remains now about what next? Do I dust myself off, climb back the mountain or let gravity pull me down? I know which answer is right and logical, and that is the answer I want to give of course. But do I really
believe it?

Ultimately, I know I'm going through a rough patch with an overgrown number of weeds, and it is not wise for the weeds to continue to accumulate nor the patch to grow any further. Therefore, I need to use some weed killer and monitor the patch. Because, in the end, who really wants weeds anyway?

Note--*I have no clue whether that last metaphor actually made sense.

*That photo was really hard to take. Had it been my left eye rather than my right, it would have been much easier and the picture clearer. I guess you get the idea though.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Drop Dead Diva

The show Drop Dead Diva premiered last night. The show centers around the question of brains versus beauty. I had read some good reviews of this show, so I was interested to see how it would play out. My other reason for watching the show is because I am a fan of Maragaret Cho, though I do admit some of her stuff can be a bit on the raunchy side for my taste.

Quick case of characters:

Jane, played by Brooke Elliott--Plain, plus-sized woman who is a kick ass lawyer and very smart. She suffers from insecurity and self-esteem issues.

Teri, played by Margaret
Cho--Jane's assistant who seems to know everything about Jane. We haven't seen if she has a quirky side yet, but she seems to provide stability for Jane.

Deb, played by Brooke
D'Orsay--Thin, blonde, and shallow. She is an aspiring model for the Price is Right show.

Grayson--Deb's boyfriend who loves Deb.

Stacy--Deb's best friend who is like her identical twin--thin,
blonde, and shallow

Kim--works in the same law firm as Jane. Seems to feel second fiddle to Jane. Thus, she tries to sabotage her. She is a wannabe "diva" personality.

Fred--Jane's guardian angel who looks out for her.

Parker--The boss at the law firm who feels Jane has insecurity issues.

A brief synopsis: Jane takes a bullet for Parker and gets killed. Meanwhile, Deb dies in a car accident, distracted by talking on the phone with Stacy. Deb, then goes to a holding station to determine whether she goes to heaven or hell. Fred who checks her in says she is a "zero," having done no bad deeds but also no good ones either. Deb, mad, hits the "return" button which sends her back to Earth.

As divine
intervention goes, she winds up in Jane's body, taking on the traits of Jane, including her smartness but keeping hold of her own memories. Fred has now become her guardian angel to help Jane with this transition.

Obviously, it is hard for Deb to be Jane, as Jane lacks everything she aspires to--nice figure, good wardrobe, always craves food, etc. It's very much the stereotype of how many people see "fat" people in society. However, Deb really does enjoy the fact that she has acquired Jane's brain and is now smart. There are several moments in the show where you see she is absolutely astonished by this new trait.

The rest of the show revolves around several court cases in which Jane wins, partly by brains and partly by her knowledge of the "shallow" world of people. There is also of course the irony of boyfriend (
Grayson) now working in the law firm. Thus, he and Jane will see a lot of each other. Romantic sparks, anyone? However, they will have to get past Kim, the co-worker who we know probably has some tricks up her sleeve. The issue of women and competition is played out between these two characters.

As you can see, there are a variety of themes here. Perhaps, the one that most intrigued me besides how we view body image and stereotypes is the issue of self-esteem. There is a scene in the show where Jane has a client who is getting divorced from her cheating husband. The woman, is a bit dowdy, obviously lacking a lot of self-esteem, and would rather the divorce go away than go through with court. Jane convinces her that she needs to fight and get half of the settlement, that she deserves that. Jane asks her: "
How much do you think you are worth?" The woman, unsure, eventually decides she is worth at least half of the settlement. From there, there are some ups and downs, but in the end, the woman allows her self confidence to grow, realizing she does have self worth and is a strong woman who can stand up for herself.

Though the show is cliche-
ish, light-hearted, andpredictable, I'm all for showing how society works, how body image is portrayed, why self-esteem is important, etc. Although we know this as a society, I don't think it truly gets ingrained into people's heads why these issues matter. The show reminds me a lot of Ugly Betty but with different career paths.

In general, I think there is some promise for this show. There are humorous moments as well as moments that make us take a look at ourselves
and society. The cast is good, but Brooke carries the show for sure. I'll be interested to see how the episodes fare in this season.

Anyone else watch it? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Last week while grocery shopping, a brochure caught my eye. It was for something called NuVal which sounds like some type of gimmicky product. After several days, I finally got around to reading it.

What is
NuVal? Apparently, it is a new scoring system for foods. Currently, it is debuting at the stores Price Chopper, HyVee, and Meijer. The premise of the scoring system is to rate the health of food products based on a scale of 1-100, 1 having the least nutrition and 100 the most nutrition. The idea is that this simple system (like an at-a-glance) will help enable consumers to make informed decisions about the foods they buy as well as give an ability to compare products based on price and nutrition.

scoring system is based on the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI) algorithm which considers over 30 nutrients and takes into account trans fats, quality of macronutrients, and the density of food products. The development of the NuVal system itself is headed by Dr. David Katz, an Associate Professor of Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine, along with 12 other experts in medicine, nutrition, and public health. Their goal is to havea NuVal score for the over 50,000 food products in an average store. One nice thing is that this is independently funded, so there is no promotion by manufacturers or other food companies.

In general, I think this is an interesting approach to take, much better than displaying calories on menus, billboards, etc. In the "
Nutritional Insights" section of the website, it emphasizes that there are no "good" or "bad" NuVal scores--that it's just an objective tool. It makes the point that you don't have to buy the highest NuVal score, but rather that you may simply choose a product because you love it. That's actually an important statement for me to read as I have a tendency to base my food choices on the highest value of nutrition versus just taste. (post here on health versus instinct)

It will be interesting to see how this works and whether consumers catch on to using
this system. There does seem to be more of an educational aspect here than just good calories and bad calories.

What is your opinion? Could this be a valuable tool for consumers and their food choices? Would/will you use this system?

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I happened to catch this word, borborygmus (pronounced bor-buh-rig-mus), in a recent issue of O! magazine. I don't read this magazine often, but secretly only bought it because there were some interesting articles on animals in it. And who says we don't buy magazines for content? Ha!

Anyway the magazine said the definition was "the grumbling noises your stomach makes." Well, immediately, I thought
hunger. This is true to an extent, but after some quick google search, it's actually the sound produced from gas movement in your intestines. Bleh, that is nice to know eh? It's just that the growling is typically associated with the stomach, because it is usually louder.

The origin of
borborygmus is Greek, translating as an onomatopoeia (a word that imitates the sounds it makes) meaning "rumbling." This Scientific American article explains in detail the mechanism of what is going on in your body. In digestion, there is a term called peristalsis. It is a series of wave-like muscular contractions which helps move food along within the digestive tract. Peristalsis increases with the consumption of food, however, it also occurs in the absence of food and when the stomach and small intestines have been empty for about two hours. Once this has occurred, stomach receptors respond by causing a reflex generation of waves of electrical activity (migrating myoelectric complexes) that leads to hunger contractions. This then leads to an intestinal "housecleaning" of sorts which causes the grumbling noises associated with hunger.

It is good to distinguish here that these are NOT hunger pangs which result 12-24 or more hours after the last meal. The
borborygmus is more like a false hunger pang.

I bring this up, because I know for so many of us, it seems are bodies are constantly hungry. This is true after years of deprivation, and it is quite nuisance when it seems our bodies do not believe we have just fed it! However, I think a lot of what we are feeling too is this
borborygmus, at least after initial refeeding.

I know the worst time this has happened is when I've been at therapy
appointments and my stomach decides to growl loudly despite having eaten a short time ago. None of my therapists have ever said anything, but I always wonder if then, they question whether I have eaten or not. This borborygmus (it's nice to have a name to it) always makes me want to shout, "Really, yes, I have eaten, just an hour or two ago, I swear." And then, I just imagine some stare, eyes looking down upon me, like a schoolteacher looking over her glasses, saying "Uh-huh." Then, it makes me feel guilty for all the times I've lied about not eating, when really now, I just want to be believed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reasons why the BMI is bogus

This was on NPR's Weekend Edition. I thought it was fabulous! Everything is according to the BMI these days, and it drives me insane. Even when doctors, nutritionists, and other professionals know how bogus the BMI is, it still holds such authority. I get that professionals want a general statistic, but really ,couldn't they come up with something better than a formula dated to the 19th century! Yes, it is 200 years old!

To my delight, the
Top 10 reasons why the BMI is Bogus

Personally, I really like 2, 3, and 4 best.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Are food and politics intertwined?

I just read this interview from Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivore's Diet and In Defense of Food, on Pollan is a popular interviewee and never seems too shy to share his opinion (in good taste though). The interview discussed Pollan's thoughts about the politics of food and how food is viewed in his own home. I found a few interesting things he said about his once picky-eater son who has now embraced food.

But he basically found food scary and overwhelming. And so he controlled that by eating food that was as bland as possible. He was the same way about clothes. He didn't like any variety in clothing. So he wore black clothes for about eight years of his childhood. Ate white, dressed black. In both cases, in retrospect, he was trying to reduce sensory input. It was overwhelming. Smell was overwhelming, taste was overwhelming, colour was overwhelming. And he just had trouble processing.

He never mentions if his son ever had anything like autism which could explain part of this since overwhelming sensory input is a known trait. But I wonder how true this is for other picky-eaters who do not have a diagnosable illness. Is it about sensory control?

Later in the interview, Pollan says:

Kids' relations to food are complex. This generation will have its own neuroses, that's for sure. But it's very concerning that there are such high levels of allergies among kids nowadays. The reasons are as yet unexplained. But I've heard that it has complicated kids' relationships with food because so many have allergies, or think they do.

I've discovered cooking and gardening are great ways to get kids to reorient their relationships to food in a positive way. Kids will eat things that they'll pick in the garden that they'll never eat off the plate. Or they'll eat things that they've cooked themselves. Because I think a big issue for them is control. Food is really, I think, a primary political phenomenon. It is the first time you can control what you take into your body, and the first time you can say no to your parents and assert your identity. So I think food and politics are very intertwined.

I agree that helping gardening and cooking are good ways to help children develop a positive relationship with food, but I am unsure of his comment that food is about control. I know he is probably talking more from personal experience than about eating disorders and dieting here, but if we look at it in that context, isn't that one of the misconceptions---that food is about control? Are food and politics that intertwined? I think on a national/global scale, food and politics do mesh, but I don't know on a personal level. If it is as he says, I think a lot of us are actually trying to shed some of the identity we have placed on ourselves or as others have seen us.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Another example of the skewed view of my body

Just when I was about to write a post about how I was struggling with body image and that perhaps I was at my set point, something bizarre happened yesterday. Here's a little back story. Within the past month or so, I've been having terrible neck pain. It's like my neck would rather be disconnected to my head right now as the weight of it feels so heavy. This is causing some headaches which I know is stemming from my neck pain. Along with this, I've also had several incidents of my left hand having numbness, especially after weed eating or dremeling my dogs' nails. Several times, I've woken up to a numb hand. I have no clue what has precipitated either of these things, and it has me a tad worried.

My doctor thinks it is just a pulled muscle in my neck and that my muscle in my arm is basically suffocating my medial nerve. She's hoping with physical therapy that will help release the muscle over the nerve in my hand which will help my neck as well. Though I know PT is expensive (and it is on an individual plan), I really don't have a choice since this really could get worse if I don't have treatment. (
Hmm, I'm just thinking of the irony as I write this--how something physical with my body can prompt me to get help so quickly but when it is my head or ED, it takes me forever to seek treatment)

Anyway, that's the back story of why I was there. This Dr. doesn't know about the ED (yes, I know that probably isn't the best thing but I just never felt warranted to say anything since I only see her for orthopedic, muscle problems in relation to running). Being weighed is the first thing they do. At times, I've politely asked not to be, but other times, I hop on there out of curiosity.

Well, the last few weeks have been absolutely horrible body image. I was sure I'd gained more weight than I'm comfortable with since my exercising habits have been virtually non-existent (I realize this can be a good thing at times) and my eating has felt on the verge of

The scale read much
differently than I'd expected, and I was shocked. My only comment that would have even referenced this was my therapist's when she said how "I looked smaller," which I only brushed off to having my hair in a ponytail. So this number doesn't make sense to me. I've been eating A LOT, not exercising, my clothes don't feel any differently, and I have felt absolutely huge.

I don't know how to feel about it. Do I feel better that I'm not at the weight I thought I was? Do I feel worse that I still have such skewed body image and that my brain and body are still so

The parallels of ED and sleep thinking

I know I wrote about sleep in my last post, but I have a few other thoughts. For me, my relationship with sleep is similarly parallel to the ED. Here is an example of ED/sleep dialogue which has dominated my thinking at various times:

I really don't need that much food. I can get by on X calories just fine.

Eating too much food will just cause me to get fat.

I don't need to eat.

I really don't need that much sleep. 4-5 hours is sufficient.

Sleeping too much will make me fat and unproductive.

I don't need sleep.

Obviously, all of these statements are illogical, black and white thinking. Although I am able to see that now, sleep is still one of the hardest issues for me. Part of it is due to years of intentionally depriving myself of sleep. Another part is habitual. Yes, I dare it, but the Internet probably keeps me up too much. I've heard that your brain has to really focus on those pixels which just keeps you awake (unless you do indeed crash at the computer--a tell tale sign, you're not getting enough sleep)

Much like the ED, my thoughts and behaviors about sleep sway back and forth between knowing the health implications and having too much of a
laissez-faire attitude. It's like never exactly allowing myself to reach a full potential, but instead just enough to tiptoe by...until the next major blow.

Sorry for the downer kind of post. I don't think my head is in such a good spot lately. :-(

Thursday, July 2, 2009

To sleep perchance to dream-sleep and eating disorders

Lately, I've been thinking about sleep and the impact an eating disorder can have on it. Prior to my trip, we had a lot of bad weather here with rain and thunderstorms just about everyday. Some of these storms occurred in the early morning which would suddenly wake me. Then, I was up, the dogs were up, and neither of us could get back to sleep.

What just occurred to me was how my sleeping habits have changed since the
introduction of an ED. Before ED, I was always a very sound sleeper. I could sleep through anything--thunder, lightning, rain, loud noises, etc. The house could have been robbed, and I would never have noticed. However, after ED began, I became a very light sleeper, waking up from subtle noises. In some ways this was good. If the dogs made a whimper or movement, I could wake up and let them out. At other times, this backfired, especially when all I wanted to do was sleep.

I also noticed that I've conditioned myself to wake up at about the same time every morning despite what time my head actually hits the pillow. This isn't an unusual phenomenon. Many people condition their bodies similarly unknowingly. This was made especially evident while I was in Pensacola, practically waking up at my usual time.

This made me think about the general question of how sleep effects eating disorder individuals. Does an ED affect the number of hours of sleep your body needs? Does it change a person's sleeping habits? What role does starvation have on sleep? Does weight restoration and recovery impact sleep
quantitatively or qualitatively?

There's no doubt that sleep deprivation affects hormones and metabolism.
Recent research has shown sleep deprivation as one reason for the increase of obesity worldwide. This article gives a thorough look at sleep deprivation, hormones, and metabolism.

But most of us have already heard about this, the rest of the research on sleep and eating disorders is scant. However, in sleep-wake studies,
both those with anorexia and bulimia reported significant sleep disturbances on self reported questionnaires. A few other studies show that weight restoration helps those with anorexia in both slow wave, deeper, nocturnal sleep as well as qualitative sleep. (Studies here and here) In an interesting older study of the relationship of weight gain and sleep in 10 anorexic individuals, it confirmed how sleep changes during the weight restoration process through the use of EEGs..

It is my hope that there will be future studies on eating disorders and the role of sleep. I think it is a neglected area of research with important factors involved.

Has your ED affected your sleep/sleeping habits? Do you notice a difference in sleeping habits between periods of your eating disorder, i.e. at your worst period versus in recovery?