Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The big deal about diets.

Can dieting be your daughter's death sentence?

Think I am overreacting? Maybe. Or, maybe not. Counting calories or points while exercising for the sole intention of weight loss has serious effects on our children. Consider these ideas:
  1. A mother dieting teaches her daughter to not trust her body. A girl comes fully equip with her own personal internal dietitian which communicates via hunger and fullness cues. A mom ignoring her own internal dietitian teaches a young girl to do the same. This may give more business to my colleagues yet sets the daughter up for a lifetime membership in the Chronic Dieters Club. Sadly, this club has only a 3-5% success rate after a year yet immense loyalty.
  2. For many women, dieting is about losing 5 to 10 pounds to fit into skinny jeans and the thin ideal...not about health. From this, weight loss dieting teaches youngsters a big lesson in perfectionism. Dr. Shawn Spurgeon, a previous professor of mine once said: "Perfectionism kills people." Well said. Perfectionism goes really well with disordered eating practices which can lead to anorexia nervosa: the mental illness with the highest mortality rate.
  3. Using exercise for the intention of weight loss teaches children exercise exists as a means of punishment or to earn our right to eat. Last time I checked, all humans need to eat for fuel. That makes eating a right not a privilege to be earned. Instead of hiking or biking for fun with friends, a girl then learns to get on the hamster wheel at the gym to earn her calories for dinner.
A mother who accepts her body in the present and learns to eat mindfully according to hunger/fullness cues gives her daughter one of the greatest gifts: food and exercise empowerment and freedom.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where have you been?

Do you hear that?

::crickets chirping::

Food and Youtopia has been a ghost town this past month and I will be back soon as time permits. I have been actively discussing attuned eating and body image in short spurts on another page.  If you'd like to stay connected to those rants, please click here:

Julie Dillon Consulting Fan Page.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mrs. Obama: Let's Help without harm.

The childhood obesity crisis has many, including the White House, in a panic scrambling to cut out fats and push kids onto treadmills. I worry about the panic's backlash: shame, deprivation, and punishment. These experiences set the stage for binge eating and depression.

Mrs. Obama promises to help kids get healthier. Helping without harming is like walking a tight rope without safety nets. Check out this newsletter from dietitian, therapist, and master tight rope walker Ellyn Satter. It contains her letter to Mrs. Obama on specifically how to help without harm.

Ellyn Satter: Help Without Harm

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eating Disorder Awareness Week Thought of the Day

Male or female. Young or old. Black or white. Anyone can get an eating disorder. It's not just a rich white girl's disease.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eating Disorder Awareness Week Thought of the Day

I appreciate how tough it can be to reach out and let your family and friends know you are struggling with an eating disorder. I also know you don't want to be stuck with his manipulative nonsense ruling your life for the rest of your life. Letting those closest to you know about your disease has the power to break Ed's back...and getting professional help may paralyze him forever.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Eating in the Ligament of Treitz: When Normal Needs to Change

We are upon the eve of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW) and are encouraged this year to talk about it. So much about this eating disease is hush hush which only strengthens Ed's (that is how we loving refer to a person's eating disorder) manipulative powers. Although I agree we need to talk about those with eating disorders and bring the struggle into the limelight, I am being drawn to discuss something else: normalized disordered eating.

Everyday disordered eating experiences include:

  • exercising only for the purpose of burning off what is consumed 
  • eating in hopes to survive the discomfort from uncomfortable emotions
  • equating morality to food choices (good vs bad foods) and 
  • believing certain foods should have the power to promote internal shame and guilt. 
When was the last time you thought: "I just ate so much ________ (insert any fun food here). I was so bad today." Even worse, when was the last time you said this out loud amongst friends?

What concerns me is without a diet in hand, most do not know how to eat. Even more, our children are being brought up to consider only external cues to make food decisions. Internal cues to eat are not trusted or even acknowledged. I believe hunger, fullness, and satiety are God's given gift to regulate our healthy weight on our own so we never have to visit with a dietitian for weight management. Yup, you have your very own dietitian residing inside you! It is probably somewhere between the pyloric sphincter and the Ligament of Treitz.

While I was relaxing on a beach chair a few weeks ago, I overheard a sad conversation. A normal-sized woman was telling her friend how she was having a tough time limiting her eating while on vacation. She listed the thorns in her side to be sweets, chips, and large portions served. Without taking another breath, she went on to tell her plan upon arrival home: a fish and carrot diet. A sort of detox that would "trick" her body into not wanting tempting foods and get her back on track.

I felt deep sadness for this woman. Instead of mindfully savoring her time and tastes while vacationing she set her brain in deprivation mode before the diet even began. And she wondered why each bite felt like a Last Supper. I also felt sadness for the fact she probably has a deep grievance within that is so tough to think about. Thinking about food in this way helps fill the space she doesn't want to uncover. Why are so many more of us hurting?

According to the Academy of Eating Disorders, 4 out of 5 women practice disordered eating in their lifetime. I realize not every woman is experiencing an eating disorder as physically debilitating as Karen Carpenter but just because it doesn't look as severe, does it mean it isn't serious?

I regard disordered eating as serious because it is spreading like the plague. We are getting farther away from our body's own intelligent mechanisms to promote our healthy natural weight. The more we fight the mechanisms, the more we become off kilter: too large or starving or both. The larger people become, the more disordered eating is culturally encouraged. Do you know any other industry that is allowed to promote a product that is 97% of the times ineffective or reversed after a year?

As I ponder my place in NEDAW, I know I am culturally a salmon swimming upstream. Thankfully, I know I am not the only one swimming against the current. A mindful and attuned movement toward eating is here and can save us. For an example, consider this resource: Intuitive Eating.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Trusting the airplane peanuts

A recent trip provided me the opportunity to experience not trusting the process. The trip included getting on an plane and then connecting on another. Prior to even packing my bag, the airline called to tell me weather promoted my flight to be cancelled. Although travel companions on other airlines were diverted to another company still with flights, our airline refused such options. We had to wait 24 extra hours to board the plan.

During the early morning hours prior to this next departure time, the airline called to let me know this flight was cancelled too: the pilot needed sleep. So did I and that is why I was going on a vacation! This new change would get us to our destination a few hours later.

I finally boarded and took off on the first leg of my flight. The flight attendant got us prepared and the pilots kept us posted.  Everything seemed routine while we prepared for landing. As our plane was feet from touching down in the runway, I felt the plane surge back upward. Without warning or explanation, we were back in the air and circling the airport. I felt my mind race with panic as to what kept the plane from going through the normal motions.

Once this plane landed I found my connecting flight to be delayed another 4 hours. I had to hold my ears  to keep the smoke and fire from hitting those around me.

A few hours later, I was standing by the baggage claim in my final destination. I stood with other nameless travel companions all with our fingers crossed. The baggage claim belt went around and around and my now awfulizing brain messages dwelled on the expected outcome: no luggage.

In this moment, I started to feel something familiar: plans being made only to have outside forces change the timeline, feeling dread and fear for the unknown and unexpected, having to make do with the options at hand. Hmmm, I never knew getting on an airplane was like a feeding relationship. Sometimes it can be so easy to trust my body and its messages whereas other times, the pilot does a trick landing and throws me for a loop.

Considering the similarities, I calmed my brain by giving it similar food-like messages: trust the process. Trust that it will work out ok. Trust those that guide us. You cannot control the timeline just the reaction to it and the choices you make from those at hand.

While my heart went from the pace of a rabbit to a human, I saw my familiar luggage pop onto the baggage claim. I grabbed my bag and slowly strolled to a late dinner.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Child obesity: I blame Dr. Seuss.

Broccoli here, broccoli there? 
I don’t want it.
Will you eat your broccoli for me? Dora? Boots?
Will you eat broccoli if I give you dessert?
I don’t like broccoli.
You can’t have the dessert until you eat broccoli!
No TV tonight until you try it.
You will sit here until you’re through.
You will like broccoli if it is the last thing I do!

I have fond memories reading Dr. Seuss books and now read them to my daughter. She always laughs in delight when Mr. Reluctant finally tries the green eggs and ham. I wonder how many parents consider this book a child’s book or child’s nutrition guidebook.

We all know how the real Green Eggs and Ham ends: a reluctant naysayer takes a nibble and rejoices for err in his food ways. He loves this previously avoided food and will always have a special place in his heart for the persuasive Sam-I-Am. If only life had  a similar fate; instead reality shows Sam-I-Am’s tactics backfire. 

I often hear concerned parents describe plights to get their children to eat certain foods. Usually these foods are ones considered the healthiest: veggies, fruit, milk, some meats. Just like Sam-I-Am, they try every strategy to manipulate a child’s intake including begging, pleading, threatening, and bribing. I wish they would try more ignoring.

Research shows the more a person tries to manipulate a child’s food intake, the more likely said child will become overweight. In other words, bribing and threatening teaches a child to overeat. 

Trust your child will get what she needs with the choices you provide. When you feel yourself trying to manipulate her choices, stop! You’re sending a mixed message and harming her food relationship. 

Backed by research, Sam-I-Am would be more successful this way:

You don’t like Green Eggs and Ham?
These are your choices for lunch today
Along with bread and milk.
If you don’t want them, that’s ok.
That is your choice.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My brain needs your help.

I am looking forward to ch-ch-changes this year! After much longing and a little practice, I have decided to start a few groups. Some will be on-going and others will be one day workshops. My head is spinning with ideas and I need your help funneling them down into manageable and desirable goals.

Along with groups, I need feedback to help make your experiences better while working with me. Each response is 100% anonymous (seriously, you can say ANYTHING you want). Click onto this (safe) survey link. Just 10 simple questions that will collectively take less than 3 minutes. I thank you a million in advance!

Click here to take survey

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When your picky eater at home is more ick than pick, Ellyn Satter saves the day. I believe her principles prevent eating disorders and other eating concerns. If you find your family in the picky eating struggle, this newsletter will feel sent from heaven.

Ellyn Satter Family Newsletter

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Calling all area dietitians and dietitians-in-training!

Networking with area dietitians + fabulous disordered eating training = perfect way to spend an evening. 

From diet rock bottom to disordered eating: 
What every dietitian needs to know about eating disorders

Uncomfortable. Unprepared. Uneasy. Gitmeeeeeeouttaheeeeeeeeere!

Are these your thoughts while working with a person affected by disordered eating? Or, are you interested in working more within the disordered eating continuum? Come to this eating disorder crash course fully equipped with safety measures to ease your transition from harming to helping. Local eating disorder expert and counselor Julie Duffy Dillon will help you find tools to tame the roller coaster of extreme dieting and desperate emotions. 

Topics will include:
  • what to say and what not to say
  • defining subclinical disordered eating
  • unraveling the binge-restrict cycle
  • working through emotional eating
  • much more!

When: Wednesday Feb 17 at 6 pm
Where: UNCG Stone Building
Why: Because everyone needs to know how to help instead of harm

Your seat bottom cushion will double as a floatation devise.

Let me know if you need more info or a way to RSVP.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr