Friday, February 26, 2010

Building a Bridge from ED to Intuitive Eating, Part 1


“Most patients who are in the throes of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or compulsive overeating have lost touch with their innate signals of hunger and fullness and taste preference. The physical starvation is often so grave in those who are suffering from anorexia nervosa that an attempt to listen to the signals of hunger or fullness can only lead to confusion and maintenance of the underfed state. If even the smallest amount of food is ingested, the slowed stomach emptying that occurs in anorexia pushes away signs of hunger and creates a false sense of fullness.”

“In the treatment of bingeing disorders, including bulimia, patients have become so accustomed to eating quantities of food that are larger than one’s normal needs that their interpretation of fullness is highly skewed. They so often have ignored hunger by eating for many other reasons, such as boredom, loneliness, anger, etc., that asking them to listen to hunger signals feels alien and frustrating. We begin, instead, by putting on our nutritionist caps and teaching them about normal body functioning, including the concept of blood sugar fluctuations and the body’s reaction to meals that are imbalanced or inadequate in terms of energy intake.”

“So, intuitive eating is best seen as the model of eating that will ultimately become one’s own. This happens after there has been a period of time for healing the body physically and shifting the cognitive distortions that rule the mind of someone who has developed an eating disorder as a coping mechanism.” – Excerpt from, “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works”, By, Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.

“Hello… I’d like you to meet my frenemy, ED”

For a long time now I have felt like there was a piece of the puzzle missing in the ultimate design of intuitive eating. Something about the process felt off. Working as an intuitive eating counselor, I have seen far more people struggle to embrace the path of intuitive eating, than I have seen readily take to it. I have experienced difficulty myself and this is after four years of believing I was an intuitive eater. In order to paint a clear picture, it’s necessary to share the story of my struggles and those of the many people all over the globe who have crossed my path on this journey.

In October of 2009 I experienced a relapse of my eating disorder issues. I have a long history of eating disorder with the first signs emerging that something was wrong when I was 10 years old. By the time I was 12, ED had me firmly in it’s grasp. I battled anorexia and purging behavior off and on over a period of 12 years. I never received any kind of professional support for my eating disorder even in my most desperate state of crisis. At that point, I was 24 years old. My weight had plummeted to a dangerously low level. At a height of 5’7”, I was a slip of a woman, somewhere in the mid 80 lb. range. I have to guesstimate my low point because I had not stepped on a scale for about three weeks and at last weigh-in I registered a mere 92 lbs. My body continued to waste away after that step on the scale, so I think it is fair to say that I was well into the mid-80 lb. range. I was vomiting blood on a daily basis. I was isolated and alone, without the necessary support I needed. Many of my friends, feeling fearful and not understanding the gravity of the situation, turned their backs on me. The abandonment and rejection was almost more than I could bear. The intensity of the shame and humiliation I felt is beyond words. Somehow, in the darkness of that bleak space I was able to strike a match. That inner light, however small, illuminated the possibility of hope burning brightly in the distance. I reached for it with both hands like a moth drawn to a flame. I clawed my way out of that dark tunnel and nurtured myself back to some semblance of health. It would be many years before I would notice that ED was still hanging out in the background, lurking in the shadows of my consciousness.

I had a brief period of stabilization. Life felt good for awhile. I was out of the danger zone health-wise and things were looking up in my life. I finally found the courage to stand up for myself and leave behind abusive situations. I left a dead-end job in the dust and moved on to a new career as a therapeutic massage therapist, working alongside doctors, providing physical therapy for their patients. It felt deeply rewarding to be earning a right livelihood by helping others find healing. In restoring others, I felt renewal in my own soul. Call it karma yoga. I took a leap of faith and manifested a lifelong dream, opening up my own practice and business was booming. I found instant success. Within my first month of opening doors I recovered all my starting costs plus found myself securely in the black with a handsome profit. It only continued up from there. I was working hard, but for the first time in my life I had financial security and was able to treat myself to the finer things. Within a few months, everything I had worked so hard for was reduced to nothing more than ash when a practitioner who shared space with me left a hot plate burning that set a fire, quickly consuming the building. I’ll never forget standing in the charred remains of what used to be my treatment room. How quickly life can completely change on the drop of a dime and leave you reeling senseless. I was not able to salvage a single thing except for a large statue of a fairy that I had sitting in the corner who somehow managed to survive the fire, her face glowing pearly white against a backdrop of blacken ash. I kept her as a reminder that even within darkness, there is light.

After this event, I hit the wall. Truth be told, the fire was a rather symbolic moment in my life. I was burned out. The field of rehabilitative massage is a taxing one. I didn’t do what therapists have dubbed ‘club rubs’. You know, those massages you get at the frou-frou spas where they pet you into submission. I did deep tissue, neuromuscular retraining, Heller work, sports massage and action release/trigger point therapy. This kind of work exacts a major toll on the body. I was in high demand and often found myself grinding through 60 hour work weeks. I was spent. My body depleted, I collapsed. I struggled for many years and saw a reactivation of my eating disorder issues, but this time it took a different form… non-purging bulimia. I used excessive exercise and tight eating as my compensatory behavior for the binges that were becoming ever more frequent. My weight escalated and I quickly became morbidly obese at over 300 lbs. I never really discovered my highest point because it got too depressing to see the rising numbers after awhile. I felt completely powerless against my body which only made my anxiety rise. This was a new experience for me. I had never been a large woman. I had gone through periods of being softer, fleshier, but never to the extent that it was difficult for me to function.

“Off with her head!”

Physically, this was a scary place to be. I was constantly getting winded and could barely make it around the block without having to stop to catch my breath. I was scared to sleep. When I laid down for bed I could feel this crushing weight on my chest. It felt suffocating. The worst part was that my ED tricks were no longer working. No amount of compensation could unravel the cascade of biological events that were happening in my body. This is the part of eating disorders that many people don’t talk about and I think it’s time we did. Eating disorders do serious physical damage to your body. They wreak havoc on your digestive system and once that damage has been done, it takes a long time and much effort to repair your internal terrain. When your digestion heads south, watch out! You become vulnerable to a whole slew of physical health complications. Unable to assimilate the nutrients from food, your state of well-being quickly deteriorates. It may seem like ED is helping you obtain the coveted prize of a thinner body but you can rest assured, there will come a time when you have to pay the piper and the price exacted will be your heavy head. Take it from someone who knows. It’s not worth it.

My body was in constant pain because of depleting bone mass. I had a bone density screening and the nurse practitioner was highly disturbed by my results. She informed me that I was only 3 points away from being like an 80 year old woman with osteoporosis. She had never seen a woman in her twenties with these results in all her years of practice. I found myself having to visit my dentist frequently for dental caries. My immune system was shot. I seemed to get every cold and flu that would come around the bend. It was very common during those days for me to be laid out sick for weeks on end. Every time I tried to exercise to address my escalating weight it was like throwing a match into a barrel of kerosene. My body was on fire and it was screaming at me, “Stop! Please stop! Be gentle with me. Be kind. I can’t take this abuse anymore!” My body was in the trenches of eating disorder, raising the white flag of surrender, but sadly, for many more years the battle raged on. Ultimately, my energy was completely snuffed out. I blew out my thyroid.

Many people are unaware that a major contributor to hypothyroid conditions is a history of chronic dieting. It’s no wonder that thyroid disease has reached almost epidemic proportions in the United States with our cultural diet obsession. The irony is, the longer you restrict, yo-yoing back and forth between feast and famine, the more your body will put up a fight for self-preservation. This is why many people find that despite the small amount of food they eat and the more strenuously they exercise their body only holds onto fat stores for dear life. This is because in a very real sense biologically, it is a life or death struggle. After years of abuse and self-neglect of basic needs, our bodies remain in a state of high-alert, never knowing when the next meal will come. Despite being fed, this uncertainty will linger. How long will this food be available? When will the next famine arrive? To the average person trying to live up to societies’ one-note beauty ideal this pursuit may seem harmless. Intellectually, you may understand that you are choosing to forgo food in favor of thinness, but this is completely irrational to your body. The body adapts in these situations and will slow everything to a grinding halt, including metabolism. This is why it is very common for restrictive eaters, chronic dieters and those who have battled anorexia to deal with overweight/obesity conditions later in life. We can’t blame our bodies. They are responding accurately to a lack of food security. We have to stop working against our bodies and instead work with our natural biological drives if we ever hope to have lasting healing.

There’s a Light in My Attic

After 9 more years of struggle with bulimia, beaten down and spent, I finally made the decision to give up the fight. I made a commitment to never diet again. I wanted to reconnect with my body. Even though I was a very large woman, I couldn’t be concerned about my body size. I was just so tired of the constant struggle. The fight that came every morning when first opening my eyes and wondering if today was going to be a good day or a bad day. Most were bad days. I couldn’t take the sheer disappointment… the numbness and apathy… of living that way a moment longer.

I decided to embrace intuitive eating. The first year was challenging. I continued to exhibit bulimic behavior, but I was seeing slow and steady improvement. My second year into intuitive eating, my binges fell away. However, an air of restrictiveness remained. I couldn’t see this at the time, but looking back now, it is very clear to me. I will share how this restrictiveness stayed in place in hopes that it may help others to recognize destructive patterns within themselves. I was very conscious about eating just to the point of satiation. This is something that is recommended in the book, “Intuitive Eating”. Unfortunately, since I never received any help for my eating disorder I had certain distorted perceptions about food, hunger and satiety imbedded in my brain. Adhering to this guideline kept me in a state of perpetual underfeeding. Additionally, I continued to over-exercise. Not to the extent that I once did at the most exacerbated points in my ED history, but imbalanced nonetheless. I frequently hit periods of over-training and injury. I summed this up to being the end result of trying to exercise as a heavy woman and something I just needed to push through.

After two and a half years binge-free, I felt better than I had in 10 years. A doctor’s appointment confirmed that I had released 70 lbs. effortlessly. My energy was improving. My health was on the mend. I had a new respect for my body and felt a peace around food that I never had at any point in my life. During this period of time I became certified as an intuitive eating counselor by going through the training program designed by, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, the authors of, “Intuitive Eating”. I was listed on the national directory and made the decision to pay it forward by founding, “Through Thick and Thin”. My vision was to establish a sacred space in the format of an online community where the support would be free and all who entered could feel welcome, accepted as they are, and be gifted with tools that could help them in their recovery. It was a lofty vision because that level of integrity is rarely seen on the internet, but we have somehow managed to hit the mark. Every time I hear a member express that the, “Through Thick and Thin” community is one of the only places they feel free to be themselves, accepted and safe, it reminds me of the importance and value of the work we are doing collectively as a community. I felt like I had mastered recovery.

Building a Bridge from ED to Intuitive Eating, Part 2


An Itch Begging To Be Scratched… The Birth of Relapse

2009 was a year to remember, though not fondly. There was major health crisis with loved ones, death in the family, one of my dearest friends lost her only son suddenly and unexpectedly and needed emotional support. Upheaval became a constant theme. They say when it rains, it pours and in my neck of the woods, it was dropping by the bucketful. I began to feel overwhelmed. Every safe space seemed to be crowded with an ever-growing feeling of impending doom. My heart sank when the phone rang because it usually brought more bad news. My sense of anxiety began to grow as I realized that in life, there are no guarantees. This pushed play on some of the old tapes that used to run through my mind in the past. A sense of wondering when the other shoe was going to drop started to color all my experiences. I saw the reemergence of ED.

At first, it was an isolated incident… a binge here, some ‘careful’ eating there, then progressing to periods of ignored hunger and over-exercise. At first, I chalked it up to stress. I knew these coping mechanisms felt like comfort zones for me. Naturally, with my sense of overwhelm increasing my survival instincts would guide me to rely on old ways of dealing with difficult emotions and situations. This is the only way I have known to keep myself afloat since I was a little girl. I decided that if I could be more aware I could reel myself back in and reconnect with intuitive eating. It wasn’t that easy.

As my eating disorder behavior increased, the weight release came to a grinding halt. Once again my body was in crisis mode. My health started to nosedive. This only fueled the fire in my sense of urgency to ‘get back on track’. Medical doctors were admonishing me left and right to lose weight or else experience the consequences. Though they were pleased with the progress I had made up to that point with intuitive eating, it wasn’t good enough. When they saw the weight release stall, it upped the ante and each medical appointment only caused my frustration to grow. My doctors are aware of my eating disorder history. What I would like to let medical professionals know is that heaping this kind of pressure upon patients with these histories is irresponsible. It is like flipping the switch on the disorder. We need more compassion from the medical community. Slimness does not equal sound health. I am living proof of that fact in light of my personal history with eating disorder.

By October 2009 the balance reached the tipping point and I saw a full-blown relapse of my eating disorder. I exhibited non-purging bulimic behavior in full bloom. Days would go by where I would starve, existing off nothing more than a single fruit smoothie. Eventually, my biological drives would kick in and I would experience subsequent bingeing. The binges could last days on end. I stayed in this pattern for close to a month distracting myself by disassociating through over-work and over-extending myself. “No” ceased to be part of my vocabulary. I was stretching myself paper thin. Somehow, that intuitive voice that I had been nurturing inside all these years since beginning my healing process kicked in. I woke from my haze and realized I was in trouble. I needed help.

“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”

ED has always been a shitty partner. ‘He’ expects so much of me and gives nothing in return. ‘He’ is a sadist… hell-bent on my submission. It’s ‘his’ way or the highway. Every time I try to use my voice and stand up for myself, ED tells me to ‘shut up’. ‘He’ is a gatekeeper and likes to have me under lock and key. ‘He’ will never let me have much freedom. ED isolates me from my friends, family, and the things that make my heart full. ‘He’ crowds out the spaces that allow room for my soul to smile. ‘He’ seeks to make me smaller… to strip me of my power. I’m so over ED. ‘He’ is a waste of time. Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s time for me to move on to greener pastures. Sorry ED, I’ve had a glimpse of the other side, and though the grass may not always be greener, in this case, it is. I already packed your bags. They’re waiting outside by the cab I called for you.

It may seem funny to describe eating disorder as a relationship, but that is exactly what it becomes. Anyone who has experienced the death grip of ED knows it’s like being in an abusive relationship with your self. You feel divided, as if there is a civil war going on within you complete with two dueling sides. One side wants recovery so badly it can nearly taste it and the other side doesn’t want to relinquish the control required to get free. At some point you have to dig deep and find that small still place inside… the place where the authentic you lives… and using all the strength you can muster, walk out that door toward a life that holds no space for ED in it. This is exactly what I have done.

I began by attending a day long workshop at Beyond Hunger that was led by one of the therapists who co-wrote the book, “It’s Not About Food.” This is the first time I ever sought any kind of eating disorder support for myself. It was an essential first step. The workshop was a condensed version of the book so I didn’t receive any monumental benefit from the experience. I didn’t let that discourage me. Sometimes, you have to be open to exploring your options when you first reach out for help. Serendipitously, there was a therapist attending the workshop who specializes in eating disorder. When I asked if there were any other ED support resources in the area she guided me to a free ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) support group that has weekly meetings in a neighboring city. When you reach out for help you may not get the answer you expect, but often are led to exactly what you need.

I have been attending weekly ANAD meetings and getting myself therapy with a specialist in eating disorders since December 2009. The experience has changed my life. There are so many things I understand about myself and the way I have moved through this world that I was completely unaware of. Some days are better than others. Opening up your self and peeling back the layers can feel scary at times. There are moments when the intensity of the emotions welling up in me takes my breath away. I’m learning to hold space for the suffering… not wallow in it… but invite it in to sit for a spell so I can learn from it, gain a better understanding of myself, then wish it well upon its’ way. Each day the part of me that wants recovery grows stronger. My emancipation is coming into view.

Building a Bridge from ED to Intuitive Eating, Part 3


ED’s Accomplice… EDNOS

As I began my recovery process I became more aware of certain struggles the members of the, “Through Thick and Thin” community were experiencing. Time and time again I saw similar threads emerge. When I came out to the community and shared the truth about my relapse it sparked a lot of discussion on the forum. The more we honestly shared with each other, the more our similarities became evident. In hearing my story, others heard echoes of themselves. Some were ready to step up to the plate and acknowledge that they too, struggle with eating disorder. Others felt apprehensive about wearing that label as if it were the equivalent of brandishing a scarlet letter. Many who felt fearful of looking into their shadowy areas have since found the courage to strike their own matches and see what has been lurking in the dark all these years. All over the, “Through Thick and Thin” forum we are talking about eating disorder. This act of truth-telling has erased the shame and given more people the courage to own their experience and their paths to recovery.

We have always had members in our community who deal with the clinical eating disorders anorexia and bulimia but in the past, we have seemed like a minority. However, since I began to share information about EDNOS many members are recognizing that eating disorder may be at the root of their food and body image struggles.

EDNOS stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. It is a horribly limiting diagnosis which prevents people from getting the help and support they need. Many with EDNOS fall through the cracks and spend their lives constantly battling a feeling that something in their relationship with food and their body is not quite right, but they can’t put their finger on it. All their efforts to find the peace they seek seem to fall to the wayside of their struggle. It can be very painful and confusing for these individuals. EDNOS is a serious issue that requires support. It should not be swept under the rug like some dirty little secret. EDNOS today can quickly spiral into clinical eating disorder tomorrow. It can cost you the heavy price of your life. “Through Thick and Thin” wants to give all those living with EDNOS a voice in our effort to share knowledge during NEDAwareness Week. We know your pain. We understand your struggle. You are not alone. It’s time your stories were heard.

EDNOS is the gray area of eating disorder. It comes in many shades and hues. Vlogger, ‘xxstrawberrykissezxx’ on You Tube described the experience of EDNOS so clearly when she expressed in her video…

“You know you’re EDNOS…

When one day you can’t imagine eating over 1,000 calories and the next you hit 2,000 or more.

When you tell people, (including health professionals) you have an ED and they don’t believe you.

When your weight always stays the same because the starving and the bingeing seem to cancel each other out.

When no one sees your emotional pain because you’re not thin enough to show it.

When you want the definition of anorexia to change so you can fit into something for once.

When your weeks tend to go… purge, fast, purge, fast… binge, binge, binge.

When someone asks you what ED you have you say, ‘All of them… on different days… and not to the extreme.’

When you eat until your stomach hurts and then realize you don’t feel like purging.

When you go to the supermarket and buy all healthy stuff and then go back to buy all the junk food.

When you reward a day of restricting by bingeing.

When you starve all day but eat over 2,000 cals. at night.

When you drink until you vomit because… well, because you want to.

When you feel like you’re anorexic but sure don’t look it!

And when you wish food didn’t exist because it would be so much easier that way.

Anyone can suffer an eating disorder. They strike regardless of age, sex, or race. And whatever the weight of a disordered eater… under, normal, or overweight… they can all suffer the same pain.”

I think this captures the essence of EDNOS better than anything I have ever come across before. A person does not have to have every experience that is described here. Displaying even one of these behaviors should raise cause for concern. If you or someone you know is dealing with these issues, please reach out for support. It can be a scary first step to take but it is a step that will put you back on the road to claiming ownership of your life.

It dawned on me that the vast majority of those who come to the path of intuitive eating deal with some level of disordered eating, with many falling in the EDNOS category. Most don’t turn to the intuitive approach until they have reached complete burnout with diets. Inside, they know that something has to give. They can’t keep going on like this. Having exhausted all the tools of the dieter, intuitive eating becomes a last resort… the final hope. There are no absolutes and occasionally a person stumbles along the intuitive approach before dieting behaviors become deeply entrenched, but in the vast majority of cases there is lengthy chronic dieting history or episodes of eating disorder.

Medical professionals and researchers have noted a distinct link between chronic dieting and the rise of eating disorder. Often, dieting can become a gateway into eating disorder for those with genetic, societal, and emotional vulnerabilities. Even someone without this propensity can get caught up in this vicious cycle because dieting distorts our perceptions about food and our bodies. It is my belief that the vast majority of individuals who turn to intuitive eating deal with some level of eating disorder, varying in degree of severity all the way from meeting clinical criteria for ED to falling in the murky range of EDNOS. This has been played out in full view within the, “Through Thick and Thin” community. The vast majority of individuals attempting to integrate an intuitive approach to food struggle greatly. I have seen a high level of confusion and subsequent relapses into disordered eating behaviors from restricting, over-exercising and occasional purges, to chronic bingeing and compulsive overeating. All too often I have heard the body bashing and self-denigration so common amongst eating disorder sufferers. I have seen patterns of emotional issues, social anxieties, intimacy and relationship struggles that are indicative of the ED mentality.

Building a Bridge from ED to Intuitive Eating, Part 4


The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

Then it all crystallized. I found the missing piece to the puzzle. I finally understood why so many people were not finding complete recovery through intuitive eating. Quintessentially, the intuitive eating approach puts the cart before the horse. It works on the basis of assumption that most do not deal with any degree of eating disorder, when sadly, this is far from the truth. The reality is actually the mirror opposite. Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch have hit the nail on the head when they express the challenges that someone faces in integrating an intuitive eating approach when they are contending with eating disorder. They outline the importance of educating individuals about how to properly nourish their bodies and in many cases, employ a rehabilitative plan that will provide the safety of a certain level of structure. This allows the individual to gradually release distorted behaviors and perceptions around food as they are nurtured back to health physically and cognitively. Once this balance has been developed, the individual can be guided gently into learning how to listen to their body’s internal cues to lead their eating experiences. Intuitive eating is the ultimate destination, but a large majority of people coming to this path may need to take a detour and first learn how to properly care for themselves, addressing the internal imbalances that result from a history of ED/EDNOS or chronic dieting.

I can hear it now… “Wait a minute! I know what’s healthy. I could probably school my doctor in nutrition. I’ve read so many books on how to eat. I’ve been on countless plans. How is this supposed to help?! Isn’t a plan just another diet?” What many neglect to acknowledge is that the vast majority of their nutritional information has come from faulty sources. Most have received their nutritional ‘education’ from fad diets and the media who is always quick to jump on the bandwagon of the latest food hype. Tell me I’m wrong. We’ve all heard the never-ending droning of the media machine extolling the virtues of acai berries and mangosteen. For every ‘It’ girl in Hollywood we have a corresponding ‘It’ food… the flavor of the moment… and it sucks people in. First coffee is ‘bad’ for us, and then it is ‘proven’ to prevent dementia. How many foods have been put into the penalty box only to be redeemed a few short months later? Remember how we demonized carbs? That screwed up many people’s ideas about this important fuel source. Now we are being encouraged to bring grains back to the table.

The funny thing is the core nutritional information for building a foundation of health hasn’t really shifted all these years despite these ever-changing ‘fashion’ trends. I can read your thoughts… “Oh great… here we go with the Food Pyramid and the dreaded countdown of servings a day. Here come back the measuring cups, food scales and the lists of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. I knew it!” Wrong again. “Through Thick and Thin” would never pull the rug out from under you like that. Besides, there is much room for improvement when it comes to the Food Pyramid. Marion Nestle agrees.

Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She chaired the Department of Public Health from 1988-2003. She holds degrees in molecular biology and an M.P.H. in public health nutrition issued by UC Berkley. She has schooled physicians, residents and medical students at the UCSF School of Medicine. She has served as a member on the FDA Food Advisory Committee and Science Board, the USDA/DHHS Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and American Cancer Society that establish nutritional protocol for cancer prevention. This is the short list of her numerous contributions to the field of nutrition. She is a highly regarded professional and you would be hard-pressed to find a member of the medical/dietetic communities willing to go head to head with her. She knows her stuff and has poked many holes in the value of the Food Pyramid.

If you feel compelled to learn more about nutrition I encourage you to read Marion Nestle’s book, “What to Eat” where she sorts through the ‘Big Food’ hoopla to reveal the simple truth. It’s not complicated, but the food corporations have made it that way. In fact, the current Food Pyramid is more strongly influenced by commercial gain than by public interest. If you have any doubt about this I welcome you to read Marion Nestle’s telling book, “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health”. What I appreciate about Marion Nestle is that she presents an informed, well-rounded view. She knows both sides of the story and is able to present the facts free from bias. I view her approach to nutrition as integrative. Unshackled by the conventional approach, she is open to applying alternative nutritional therapies where they have merit. Neither too far on the left, nor right side of the fence, she can meet the public in the middle and provide a balanced view.

If any food pyramid were to be employed in the design of our plan, “Through Thick and Thin” favors the, “Food For Thought Pyramid – How to REALLY Enhance Your Health” created by, Laura McKibbin, LICSW that is founded on the HAES (Health At Every Size) approach. The, “Food For Thought Pyramid” features:

  • Genetics, Luck (6-11 servings)
  • Socioeconomic Factors: Country of birth, race, gender, income, access to healthcare, freedom from violence (6-11 servings)
  • Relationships and Social Support: People, pets (3-5 servings)
  • Purpose and Meaning: Spirituality, altruism, contact with nature, forgiveness (2-4 servings)
  • Humor, Optimism, Play (2-3 servings)
  • Emotional Resilience: Healthy management and expression of anger and other emotions, ability to take action (2-3 servings)
  • Exercise (1 serving)
  • Nutritional Advice (Use Sparingly): Instead, rely on internal cues

Sources: Dean Ornish, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Bernie Siegel, The Buddha, Gloria Steinem, Viktor Frankl, Glenn Gaesser, Mother Teresa, Martin Seligman, Jesus of Nazareth, Jon Robison, Larry Dossey, Jean Baker-Miller, the World Health Organization, my Mom, your gut intuition.

As described on the website the, “Food For Thought Pyramid” was, “Designed as a tongue in cheek response to and criticism of the FDA’s Food Guide Pyramid.” There are, “Food For Thought Pyramid” posters available for purchase at:

In a spirit of paying it forward, for every poster purchased 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Ecumenical Food Shelf of Alberta Lea, MN. Or if preferred, you can provide the name of a food bank in your area that you would like the funds to be distributed to and they will make a donation to your chosen facility in your name. The poster would be a great way to visually remind yourself to keep all things in perspective on your journey and to heed your counsel as the input that carries the most weight in your decisions when it comes to your recovery.

Our ultimate destination is intuitive eating. Those who are currently struggling with ED/EDNOS issues may need a helping hand to rehabilitate their bodies so they can get back to a balanced place biologically and once again rely on their internal cues. For those who have been coming up against a wall of resistance in implementing intuitive eating, this approach may prove beneficial for you too. Please be mindful that this is a temporary means. The intention is not for you to fall back on this plan indefinitely. The idea is to help you get reconnected with your personal rhythms and bodily signals. I encourage you to give yourself at least 3 weeks to work with this technique so you can experience the rebalancing benefits that come from nourishing your body deeply.

This approach is being outlined for those dealing with eating disorder. If you have found your transition into intuitive eating to be a smooth, seamless one and your formerly imbalanced behaviors around food have stabilized… congratulations. It’s empowering to reconnect with your body and inner sense of knowing. There is no need for you to make any alterations. This approach is not for you. I ask that there is respect for those in our community who may need to rely on this transitional technique. If this plan is not for you, it does not mean that it is not needed by another who feels disconnected from their body. It is important to be mindful of the counsel...

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

Building a Bridge from ED to Intuitive Eating, Part 5


“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein

In keeping aligned with the, “Food For Thought Pyramid” we are going to use nutritional counsel sparingly. I am going to provide you with some general guidelines and show you how you can tailor a personal ‘plan’ to help meet your individual needs and aid you in building a bridge between where you are now, to becoming a natural, intuitive eater. We will discuss some basic nutrition but we will not be getting into the areas of portions sizes, except in an extremely simplified sense. This area is going to be covered so there can be an understanding of the minimal amount of food that needs to be eaten in order to foster a sense of health and well-being. Those with ED often have faulty perceptions in this area. Much like Goldilocks, they are used to seeing the cup as verging on empty or teetering toward being overfull in their attempt to find their 'just right'. The vast majority with ED exhibit some form of restrictive eating. This statement applies whether the individual struggles with anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating, or all the many shades of ED in between. Those who tend toward bingeing/chronic overeating often have periods of restriction where meals are skipped or only small amounts of food are eaten in order to make an attempt to make amends for their ‘out of control’ eating. Additionally, when people binge or chronically overeat, rarely is it on nourishing foods. Binge foods stereotypically lean toward those of the play food variety… candy, pastries, chips, fast food, ice cream, and the like. These foods, though tasty, are pleasure foods. They provide little nutritional benefit. Pleasure foods are important for satisfaction. There’s room for a little pleasure in every day. However, it’s best to think of these foods as spices and seasonings. They provide variety, interest and enjoyment to our meals. They fall short when serving as the main course. This is how even someone who falls into the morbidly obese category can become nutritionally undernourished, despite their body size. In essence, many bingers and compulsive overeaters are restricting nourishing foods. All of these factors create a physiologic environment where the body is in an underfed state. This is the one element that all eating disorders have in common. Although, this will be more readily apparent in cases where an individual is chronically under-eating, restricting and in a state of semi-starvation, we have learned this applies across the board in all ED conditions.

Until this state of internal deficiency is addressed, it will be next to impossible to rely on bodily signals to guide eating choices. It’s kind of like the telephone game you used to play as a kid where you would whisper a phrase in a friend’s ear and they would pass it along. The further down the line of friends the phrase traveled, the more distorted the end message became. This is exactly the case when it comes to someone with ED being able to decipher their bodily signals. Something gets lost in translation. This is largely related to two contributing factors… severe blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional deficiencies which lead to both physical and cognitive imbalances. Until these two factors are addressed the dysfunction will remain in place. There is no way for a balanced relationship with food and body to build on that foundation. The material outlined here will help you build a new foundation that will support you fully in your recovery, improving your health physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Before I get further into this information I want to make it very clear that if you are dealing with ED/EDNOS, it is vital to get the necessary support and to work with a recovery team who specializes in eating disorder. A nutritionist who has experience working with eating disorders can be a very valuable member of your team. The knowledge I am sharing here is in no way intended to replace the counsel and guidance of an eating disorders specialist. The approach I am outlining is for informational purposes only. What you choose to do with this information is your choice alone. I encourage those who are working with nutritionists to share what is presented here. Have your nutritionist look over it to make sure it is a fit for you and your recovery program. My intention is to help those who are struggling understand that in making the transition from ED to intuitive eating, it is often necessary to build a bridge in order to get to the other side.

This ‘plan’ has an intuitive element and that’s intentional. I think it’s very important to begin the process of reconnecting with your inner guidance right off the bat, with a little structure and assistance along the way. I will not be telling you what to eat, when, or how much. I will be sharing what sound nutrition is. I will be explaining how to compose your meals to stabilize your blood sugar and moods. I will be outlining the minimum amount of food needed for the body to function. This is not a limiting factor. You are free to eat more if that is what your body requires. All foods are on the menu. You are free to eat whatever you like. In fact, I encourage you to regularly include the pleasure foods that you enjoy into your ‘plan’. This will up your satisfaction factor. I will be presenting a road map, but you are the one in the driver’s seat and it is up to you which route you take to get to the final destination.

If you want to implement this approach I strongly urge you to commit to it for at least three weeks. Your body needs some time to rebalance and for you to experience the beneficial effect that deep nourishing can bring. Give yourself that gift. Trying this out for a day or two will not do much for you. This should be viewed as part of your process toward becoming an intuitive eater.

Building a Bridge from ED to Intuitive Eating, Part 6


What is sound nutrition?

Sound nutritional nourishment is created when the majority of food choices come from plant sources. These include:

  • Starchy Complex Carbs: Whole grains, whole grain/sprouted grain breads, whole grain cereals, pastas and crackers, brown rice, grits, polenta, potatoes, yams
  • Non-Starchy Complex Carbs: Fruits (fresh and dried), 100% fruit juices, vegetables, 100% vegetable juices
  • Protein: Beans, lentils, split peas, tofu, nuts, nut butters, seeds, soy/nut milks
  • Fats/Oils: Olives, olive/vegetable oils

That’s right folks… carbs are the foundation of sound nourishment. They are not the ‘bad guys’ they have been made out to be. Despite what you may have heard in recent years, this one nutritional tenet has never changed. Our bodies need nourishing carbs and plenty of them in order to function properly. This includes starchy carbs, not just fruits and veggies. Without this essential nutrient, our energy plummets and our health suffers. Most Americans get plenty of fast absorbing carbs in the form of highly-processed white flour products, sugar and sweets. This is how carbs have gotten put in the penalty box. We have all seen the detrimental effect an excess of these foods can create. Our escalating diabetes rates clearly demonstrate the effect a steady stream of simple carbs can have on our bodies. However, we largely turn to simple carbs because we are so deficient in complex carbohydrates. It’s akin to a dog chasing its own tail.

Complex carbohydrates provide a vast array of essential nutrients and one that is sorely lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD)… fiber. Fiber is an essential nutrient in disease prevention. One of the best things you can do for your body is up your fiber. Now, does this mean you can never enjoy simple carbs? Absolutely not! However, you will be best served by letting the majority of your choices come from complex carbohydrate sources. For our intents and purposes of nutritionally rehabilitating the body, I encourage you to make at least half of your choices from complex carbohydrate sources before you fall back on highly-processed foods. The more you favor complex carbohydrates, the more you will see your energy increase. Your moods will stabilize as the brain-fog begins to clear. Bingeing/compulsive overeating will start to fall away. You’ll also notice a distinct reduction in cravings for sweets.

Now, you may be wondering, “Where are the meat, dairy and eggs? Are you asking me to become a vegetarian?” Nope… try again. We are going to get into that in just a minute. First however, I want to assure you that you can get all the protein you need from plant sources. Plants provide all the essential amino acids. In the old days they used to believe that in order to make a complete protein out of plant sources you had to food combine… combining rice with beans is an example of this old food philosophy. We now know that the body will balance out the amino acid intake throughout the day on its own and food combining to get complete protein is no longer necessary. This statement is in fact supported by the ADA (American Dietetic Association).

Vegetarians who are getting all of their protein from plant sources need to be mindful of keeping up their vitamin C intake. This is because there are two types of protein, heme and non-heme. Meat is the only heme protein source and this bears mentioning because heme proteins provide essential iron. Heme sourced iron is also more easily absorbed by the body than it is from plant sources. In fact, meat eaters absorb on average 15-35% of the iron from this heme protein, whereas vegetarians, including lacto-ovo vegetarians who continue to consume eggs and dairy products, only absorb 2-20% of the iron from non-heme sources. This is important to consider because iron deficiency can lead to anemic conditions. There is no reason for concern though because this reduction in absorbability can easily be addressed by getting plenty of vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C facilitates more complete iron absorption from non-heme protein sources. Foods rich in vitamin C are:

Sweet red bell peppers, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, mustard greens, papaya, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe, cabbage, tomatoes, raspberries, celery, spinach, pineapple, watermelon, tangerines, limes, cranberries, guava

Realistically, most vegetarians are getting a wide variety of these vitamin C rich foods so the great iron debate can be set to rest. A plant-based way of eating can absolutely fulfill all of your nutritional requirements, so long as you are being mindful of nourishing yourself from a variety of nutritional sources. I’m sure this now raises some questions regarding calcium. Don’t you need milk in order to get the calcium needed to strengthen bones? The short answer is no. Plenty of plant foods contain highly-absorbable calcium. Plant foods high in calcium are:

Green leafy vegetables, nuts, oranges, kidney beans, lima beans, whole grains, Swiss chard, lentils, raisins, broccoli, kale, celery, tofu, romaine lettuce

In fact, it is a myth that you need to consume dairy in order to fulfill your calcium need. You may be thinking… “What about osteoporosis? Don’t I have to get 3 servings of dairy products a day in order to stave off bone loss?” Wrong again. In examining nutritional guidelines it is important to remember the politics of food. Food industries dish out a lot of cash to take up more space on the USDA Food Pyramid. Keep that in mind before allowing yourself to be blindly led. Many people are lactose intolerant and have difficulty eating dairy foods. In fact, in some of the healthiest societies in the world, very little, if any dairy is consumed. This is evident in rural China where the population consumes about one third the amount of dairy that most Americans do. They also have virtually no cases of osteoporosis. In fact, the highest incidence of osteoporosis corresponds with countries consuming the largest amounts of meat and dairy products including the United States, New Zealand, Britain and Sweden. The reason... excess animal protein consumption leaches the calcium from bones.

Does this mean you should avoid meat, dairy and eggs if these are foods you enjoy? Not a chance! We have to stop looking at things in such black and white terms. The key here is that excess animal protein intake can create calcium deficiency. This is another way that the low-carb fad diet trend has promoted harmful misinformation. It has skewed people’s thinking about balanced nutrition. Especially in fitness communities the macro-nutrient, protein, is over-emphasized and excessively valued. Remember, you can get all the protein you need from plant sources and plant protein will not deplete your calcium stores. If healthy, strong bones are important to you, and they should be, consume animal proteins more moderately. This can be easily achieved by going for the regular burger instead of the triple-decker, putting a little less meat in that chili and enjoying a slice or two of cheese, not half the brick. Our bodies really don’t need 16-oz. steaks, giant burgers, and heaping plate-full’s of Buffalo wings. We also don’t thrive off head-size hunks of cheese. The fast-food industry has greatly played into this portion distortion with their super-sizes and plates of food that can easily feed an entire family. Our whole idea about what constitutes a reasonable portion of food is off.

Those who struggle with restrictive eating disorder behaviors are probably used to seeing a plate as half empty and falsely believing this is a reasonable amount of food, while those with bingeing/compulsive overeating disorders often have eyes that are bigger than their stomachs. Here is the only portion guidance I am going to give. I share this not as a limiting element, but to help those who may have confusion understand what a reasonable portion of food is and the bare minimum amount of food that needs be consumed at meals for general health. I’m not going to ask you to pull out the food scale or your measuring cups. Those are the tools of the dieter and there is no need for those anymore. I’m also not going to break down serving sizes into their measurement equivalents by listing how many cups or ounces of food ‘should’ be consumed. I personally find that kind of information triggering. I think this is where nutritional professionals have really missed the mark. They understand the importance of sharing this information but present it in a manner that automatically breeds resistance and can be activating for ED issues. That’s not our intention here, so we are going to keep it simple. Want to know what a reasonable portion of food looks like? Put out your hand and make a fist… that’s it. A serving of protein, starchy carbs, fruits or veggies, is about the size of your fist. Use fats in small amounts to add flavor, while increasing both the enjoyment and nutritional content of your meals. A little butter can be a great thing! This is not an exact science, but it comes close enough to hit the mark.

The final nutritional area I want to cover is pleasure foods. Don’t worry… I didn’t forget about those treats we all love. What would life be without a cookie, scoop of ice cream, grab-bag of chips, or basket of fries from time to time? Boring and bland and we don’t want any part of that. I think each one of us will have our hands raised high when I ask the question, “How many of you are sick and tired of being told to avoid the foods that you love?” Pleasure should be considered an essential nutrient. Like a multi-vitamin, we should take one a day… at least. Pleasure is required to feel a sense of satisfaction. Feeling satisfied is an underrated component of ending bingeing, compulsive overeating and restricting behaviors. We need to learn the art of receiving pleasure. We also need to understand that pleasure comes through more sources than just food. I encourage you to include a little pleasure in each day from a variety of sources. In terms of sweets and treats, include reasonable amounts at the end of your meals or build them into your meals, if you so desire. This will allow you to experience the pleasure of the treats you love while also bringing your relationship with these foods into balance. Rather than viewing them as the main event, you will begin to see them realistically, as extras. Treats serve the purpose of providing dimension and interest to your meals. Biologically, this will also prevent blood sugar spikes. Since the bodily need for nourishment will take precedence it will foster an internal equilibrium that will allow you to experience satisfaction with smaller amounts of these foods. When it comes to reasonable portions of treats, once again, look to your hand. If it wouldn’t fit in your hand, it is more than your body needs to feel supported… a cookie or two, a handful of chips, a scoop of ice cream… all sensible amounts. You can enjoy these foods every day! Build them into the meal ‘plan’ you are going to create. It’s important that you have enjoyable eating experiences. Many of you have been denied this pleasure for far too long. It’s time to welcome all foods back to the dining table.

Additionally, consider inviting other sources of pleasure into your day, as well. Make time to take a relaxing bath. Allow yourself 15 minutes to take a cat nap. Treat yourself to a warm cup of tea and a page-turning novel. Make a play-date with your best girlfriend. Make time for you. You deserve it!

Finally, make sure you are getting plenty of water. Carry a water bottle with you and sip on it throughout the day to keep yourself well-hydrated.

How to Create Your ‘Plan’

In order to get your blood sugar levels stabilized, reduce bingeing/compulsive overeating, sugar cravings and create a sense of food security that will allow your body to find physical and cognitive balance, it is going to be imperative that you feed yourself consistently and regularly with adequate nourishment. In order to achieve these aims you will be creating a ‘plan’ that will include 3 substantial meals and 2-3 snacks each day eaten no more than 4 hours apart from one another. Your snacks will be smaller than what you normally consume in a meal. It is also necessary to get a nurturing breakfast in every day within an hour of rising. Skipping breakfast invites in too many physiological responses that trigger ED behavior. This meal is going to be an essential component of your recovery process. This may seem like a task at this point, but I promise it will do amazing things for your body. You’ll be surprised how much this single step can improve your overall well-being.

This is not about putting yourself on a mini-meal plan, which has been a recent popular diet trend. This is about nourishing your body with essential fuel. When preparing your meals, think of including at least a fist-sized portion each of starchy complex carbohydrates, protein, and a fruit or veggie. Balanced snacks will include a little complex carbohydrates (starchy or fruits/veggies) and protein. At first, this may seem like a lot of food to you and believe me, I understand. I was taken back when I saw the minimum amount of food I would need to be eating in order to repair and replenish my body. At first, I thought there was no way that I could do this, but in a very short time, I have been proven wrong. It makes me all too aware of how much I have been restricting and under-eating.

I am feeling much better physically, mentally, emotionally, and energy-wise since implementing my own ‘plan’. I now really get that I was carb-deprived. This rise in energy level and improvement in mood were probably the two changes I noticed first. I was able to experience this within a few days. Initially, it took a little time for me to adjust to this amount of food. I had been used to eating to the ‘just satiated’ point with intuitive eating and was not familiar with a sense of being truly full and nourished. This was an adjustment for me. If you are like me and have been eating to the ‘just satiated’ point, you have probably been under-eating. This is likely a great contributing factor in the continuation of your ED behavior. Under-eating promotes bingeing and compulsive overeating. It also increases your cravings for sugar, sweets and highly-processed foods. This is because simple carbs are quickly absorbing into your bloodstream and with a lack of adequate complex carbohydrates, (this is the nutritional food source most restrict and under-consume) the body is going to scream for emergency fuel. I have always had a major sweet tooth. Since getting these consistent feedings my desire for sugary foods has all but vanished. I continue to include a little dessert each day but find a very small amount satisfies me. I now realize that my body was so pulled to those foods because I was undernourished. It’s been a transformational experience for me. I continue to enjoy all of my favorite foods, including takeout, but a real balance is developing. I’m finding that the reward of feeling deeply nurtured with solid nutrition is more attractive to me than flooding my body with play foods.

Set Your Feeding Schedule on a Day To Day Basis

Every night before you go to bed, think about what the next day has in store for you. Pull out a notebook or journal to record your ‘plan’. I like to use a dry-erase board because I work out of the home and it serves as a visual reminder to me that I need to remember to take care of myself by eating. This alone has been an amazing tool to ending my restricting/starving behavior.

In creating your ‘plan’ for the next day, it is vital to consider certain elements. When will you be rising? Schedule your breakfast within an hour of your wake-up time. When will you be able to break for lunch? Write your lunch time down. When will you reasonably be able to prepare yourself dinner? Schedule that time in, as well. Now that you have the basic template for your meals pinned down, it’s time to think about adding those 2-3 snacks. Is there more than 4 hours time lapsed between breakfast and when you will be having lunch? Schedule a mid-morning snack somewhere in there. Do you frequently experience an energy slump in the afternoon, or do you find your cravings for sweets tend to escalate later in the day? If so, schedule an afternoon snack. Are you a nighttime binger? Make sure to schedule yourself an after dinner snack. Whether you choose to have 2 or 3 snacks is totally up to you and based on your personal needs and ED patterns.

There is no need to plan what you are going to eat. This will allow you to begin to get in touch with your intuitive bodily signals. Simply keep in mind to think about having a portion of starchy complex carbs, protein, and a fruit or veggie with each meal and a complex carb/protein combo for snacks. You are merely setting reminders to feed yourself consistently and in a nourishing way. Amazing things will happen for you physically, mentally, and emotionally when your body begins to get the signal that food is available in abundance and that its needs will be met. Your entire being will begin to come into balance. Food is powerful medicine!

The great thing about a ‘plan’ like this is that it is all about you. It provides just enough structure to create a sense of safety for those transitioning from ED to intuitive eating. The planning also allows individuals to begin to reconnect with their own inner knowing in terms of food choices and how to best support their nutritional needs by working around their daily schedules and responsibilities. It fosters an awareness that providing your body with this essential care is equally important, if not more so, than the other obligations in your life. The schedule allows you to stop thinking about food so much and release the obsession. You will now be able to rest assured that you have a ‘plan’ in place and can begin to direct your attention toward other meaningful pursuits. Finally, it addresses common areas of concern that usually arise with newcomers to intuitive eating like how to work around work and school schedules.

Our responsibilities shift from day to day. By setting your schedule the night before, you will be able to take these varying elements into consideration and plan accordingly. Your ‘plan’ does not have to be static. It can shift and grow with you and your needs. Perfection is also not required. Do your best to stick with your ‘plan’. If you have a meal or snack where you fall behind what you have scheduled a bit, don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply get back on track to the best of your ability. The only thing not allowed on this ‘plan’ is guilt. Also, as you begin to feed yourself consistently, you will begin to see your hunger cues coming forward regularly and predictably. As this occurs, take this into consideration when creating your ‘plan’. For example, let’s say you note that you tend to get hungry in between breakfast and lunch consistently. There are a couple of ways you could alter your ‘plan’ to address this issue. You could opt to go for 3 snacks instead of 2 and add one in mid-morning. You could also choose to schedule your lunch a little earlier if you are able to accommodate that. Brilliantly, this begins to get you used to tuning into you own internal rhythms. Think of it as the first stirrings of the intuitive eater awakening.

There is a second piece to this puzzle which involves how to transition away from this ‘plan’ into becoming the natural eater you were always meant to be. Consider what has been presented here to be part one of this recovery process. I am refraining from posting the second part of this information purposefully until three weeks have lapsed. There is a reason for this. This is going to be new and unfamiliar for many of you. You need to give yourself time to adjust to regular, nourishing feeding. It is also necessary to allow space for your bodily signals to begin to come forward consistently. If I were to present the transitional information now, there would be a natural human tendency to want to rush ahead and that would defeat the purpose of this approach. Be patient and give yourself some time to experience the many improvements feeding your self soundly will bring. In three weeks I will present the second part of this process and we will begin to reclaim our natural, intuitive eater within.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Show Your Support For NEDAwareness Week


The official NEDAwareness Week kicks off this Sunday, February 21st and runs through Saturday, February 27th. In a display of solidarity, "The Big Fat Lie" would like to encourage all our members to show your support by wearing the purple ribbon that is the symbol of raising eating disorder awareness throughout this upcoming week. Let's erase the shame by encouraging an open dialogue about this important issue. Remember to get involved by doing
just one thing to raise awareness and to share your experiences with the community if you feel moved to. We can make a big difference if we all do our part.

To all of you who have already stepped forward to help in this effort, "The Big Fat Lie" extends its' deepest gratitude on behalf of all those struggling with eating disorder and to the many that fought the good fight but lost the battle. You will be remembered always...

Green Goddess Pasta


6 generous helpings
Cost Per Serving: Approximately $2.13 per helping

You always hear people say that it is too expensive to eat nutritious, organic food but I'm going to dispel some myths. Periodically, I will post my recipes and give a cost breakdown per serving in order to shed light on an area where there seems to be a great deal of confusion. Most people will argue that they opt for fast food because it's more economical, but I'm here to challenge that belief. The, "Green Goddess Pasta" recipe I am presenting can feed 6 people... very well. This pasta can be divided into 6 separate portions and stored in zip-lock containers providing easy lunches and dinners throughout the busy week with the same convenience of fast food, at a lower cost both in the short and long-term view. In the short-term, you cannot find a fast food meal to feed you so substantially for this price. Not to mention, you save the expense of gas when you opt to dine-in. In the long-term, you will also save yourself a mint in medical expenses while lessening the negative impact the mass production of highly processed foods has on our environment. When looking at the bigger picture it makes sense to bring back the tradition of a home-cooked meal.

  • 1 package veggie sausage, sliced (I used organic Tofurky brand Kielbasa flavored vegetarian sausage for this recipe. It has a nice, savory flavor. You can substitute your favorite brand of veggie sausage, if you prefer.)
  • 1 (12-oz.) package of wide egg noodles
  • 1/4 c. bruschetta tapenade (I used a bruschetta tapenade with mixed olives, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers.)
  • 1 Tbsp. organic butter from grass-fed cows (high in omegas)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 an organic sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 c. organic broccoli-carrot slaw
  • 2 Tbsp. Bragg's Liquid Aminos (Tastes like soy sauce, but is salt-free and contains all the essential amino acids. A great all-purpose flavor enhancer.)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once the water is ready, cook egg noodles according to package directions.
  • In a large pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add at once, veggie sausage, onion and broccoli-carrot slaw. Cook until veggie sausage is lightly browned and the veggies are tender. Add the bruschetta tapenade to the pan at the end to toss and warm with the other ingredients.
  • Once pasta is cooked, drain and be sure to shake off any excess moisture. Toss pasta with butter, Bragg's Liquid Aminos and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Gently fold the veggie sausage stir-fry into the pasta.
  • Serve yourself a generous helping and enjoy.

If you are interested in preserving leftovers for a later date, this stores well in zip-lock containers and will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator and up to several months in the freezer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"The 36 Hour Miracle"

The Ten Most Common Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

The Telltale Signs of Eating Disorder


I wanted to post this information for all those out there who are currently struggling in their relationship with food and their body, but who remain uncertain if an eating disorder is the source of their issues. I also wanted to post this information for every mother, father, sister, brother, family member, or friend who may know someone you love and care about that could be suffering. The following list of eating disorder signs is presented in, "The Eating Disorder Sourcebook - A Comprehensive Guide to the Causes, Treatments, and Prevention of Eating Disorders", By, Carolyn Costin M.A., M. Ed., M.F.T.

For those of you unfamiliar with Carolyn Costin's work, she has been a specialist in the field of eating disorders for over 30 years. She owns and directs several eating disorder treatment facilities including the Monte Nido Residential Treatment Facility in Malibu, California. Additionally, she is clinical advisor to the Parent Family Network of the National Eating Disorder Association. Carolyn Costin is the editor of, "Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention". She is an established and respected author on the topic of eating disorders. Along with, "The Eating Disorder Sourcebook" she has also published the titles, "Your Dieting Daughter" and "100 Questions About Eating Disorders". Carolyn Costin continues to educate and empower through her nationwide public speaking engagements. She was featured in the groundbreaking documentary, "America the Beautiful". To view the featurette that includes the interview with Carolyn Costin, follow this link:

Here you will also be able to view the trailer for the documentary, as well as obtain access to the official, "America the Beautiful" site where additional resources and copies of the movie are available for purchase. The movie would be a great tool for educators. I think students in their tweens to those in college would greatly benefit from seeing this film. It could spark the initiation of a meaningful dialogue on the subject of eating disorders. ED's have long been shrouded in secrecy and shame. In support of NEDAwareness Week, it's time we talk about it.

Below you will find the excerpt from, "The Eating Disorder Sourcebook" which includes the telltale markers of eating disorder. An individual does not have to display every sign listed to be in need of help. The signs noted cover a broad range of eating disorders from the traditionally recognized anorexia and bulimia, to the classification of EDNOS which includes binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating, exercise addiction and other forms of unhealthy behaviors. Not every individual will show all of these signs because of this distinction. Please keep this in mind when reviewing this list of symptoms. If you or someone you know is displaying any of these behaviors please find support. NEDA is a good place to start:

Checklist of Observable and Nonobservable Signs of an Eating Disorder:

*Use the checklist here as a guide to substantiate your concerns.
  • Does anything to avoid hunger and eating and feels guilty after eating.
  • Is obsessive and preoccupied with food.
  • Eats large quantities of food secretly and/or eats when upset.
  • Counts calories obsessively.
  • Disappears into the bathroom after eating (probably to vomit food).
  • To lose weight takes diuretics, diet pills, laxatives, enemas, ipecac, and so forth.
  • Must earn food through exercising or exercises as punishment for overeating.
  • Is preoccupied with fat in food and on the body.
  • Increasingly eliminates food groups and/or eats only nonfat or "diet" foods.
  • Becomes a vegetarian BUT also avoids nuts, cheese, pasta, and many other foods.
  • Displays rigid control around food (e.g., type, quantity, and timing of food eaten).
  • Complains of being pressured by others to eat more or less.
  • Weighs obsessively, panics without a scale, is terrified of gaining weight.
  • Isolates himself or herself socially.
  • Substitutes sweets or alcohol for other nutritious foods.
  • Constantly needs reassurance regarding appearance, self-denigrating.
  • Constantly checks the fit of a belt, a bracelet, a ring, or "thin clothes".
  • Checks size of thighs when sitting and space between thighs when standing.
  • Uses large amounts of coffee, diet drinks, caffeine pills, or other stimulants.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!


"The Big Fat Lie" would like to wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day. We hope each of you receives royal treatment befitting of the queens and kings that you are. xxooxx

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Barbie... American Icon or Harbinger of Body-Image Issues?


Ever since Mattel first introduced Barbie to America on March 9th, 1959 she has been a permanent fixture in pop culture. Most women can recall memories of having Barbie as a childhood playmate. To this day, the doll continues to be as popular as ever. Most little girls have a Barbie in their toy chest. In fact, Mattel likes to boast that three Barbie dolls are sold every second. However, despite Barbie's popularity, the marketing of this doll to young girls has fallen under much scrutiny and for good reason. Barbie promotes a body image that is a far cry from healthy. In fact, there is great debate that the doll's fantasy proportions encourage body distortion and give rise to subsequent eating disorder behavior amongst young girls.

In 1963 an apparel collection, "Barbie Baby-Sits" was launched. The outfit came with accessories, one of which was a book titled, "How to Lose Weight". The book's advice... "Don't eat". This same book accessory was featured in 1965 in the apparel collection, "Slumber Party" complete with pink bathroom scale set permanently at 110 lbs. Barbie's real-life dimensions are far from realistic. Here are some keepin' it real Barbie facts:
  • If Barbie was an actual woman her measurements would be completely unattainable. At 5'9" her bust would measure 39", her waist would be a virtually non-existent 18", and her hip measurement would come in at 33". She would wear a size 3 shoe.
  • Barbie views herself as a 'full-figured' woman at a weight of 110 lbs. In reality, at 110 lbs. Barbie is 35 lbs. underweight according to her height which puts her health in a precarious position.
  • Barbie would register a mere 16.24 BMI which would easily fit the criteria to classify her as anorexic. Menstruation would be nothing more than a faint memory for Barbie. Her body could simply not support this natural hormonal process.
  • Barbie's proportions are so unrealistic that as a real-life woman she'd have to walk around on all fours like a dog. She wouldn't be able to stand up on her own two feet.
In light of this information it makes it all the more disturbing that famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin decided to launch a 50 year anniversary edition of Barbie with a little nip-tuck. According to the designer, Barbie's lower legs were still a little too thick for his liking. He felt her ankles needed to be much slimmer and her foot more curved to show off the shoe collection he designed for the icon. His decision was met with both outrage and controversy. In his defense, Louboutin explained that it was a fashion decision based on showcasing his work. While he didn't think Barbie's original ankles were fat, he did feel that slimmer ankles would make his shoes look better. When Mattel teams up with the fashion industry you have the perfect recipe for disaster.

When are we going to demand more consciousness in advertising? When will enough be enough? I'm not a mother, but if I was, I certainly would not want my little girl playing with Barbie. She is a bad influence. I see Barbie as a symbol of the sickness that has grasped our culture. A culture that values thinness above all else. A culture that objectifies women and discourages diversity in favor of homogenization. Let's not forget that although Mattel has launched both African American and Latin American versions of the doll Stateside they continue to have distinctly Caucasian features. Barbie has one Asian friend named Kira that is hard to find in the United States because she is not heavily marketed like the other versions of the doll. When toy manufacturers target their advertising campaigns to lure in little girls ages 3-12 with messages so potentially damaging and we sit idly by twiddling our thumbs, we have a problem. Most girls own a Barbie by the age of 3. I encourage all parents to think about the message Barbie is 'whispering' in their daughter's ear. Against the backdrop of this unrealistic image, how is your little girl supposed to feel about her own body? What reflection will she see when she looks in the mirror?

We have the ability to promote an empowering message. A message that embraces diversity and encourages healthy body image. Our power to effect change lies in how we spend our consumer dollars. Every time we go to the store and make a purchase we cast a vote. Suppliers meet the demand. Corporations don't hold the power. That's an illusion. The people hold the power and we have the ability to set the precedence if we stop buying into marketing ploys and begin to put our money where our mouth is. It's time we become conscious consumers and take financial responsibility to ensure that our dollars support businesses in line with our values.

When I think back I believe even as a child I knew that Barbie was a little off. There was something I didn't like about that girl. All my Barbie's suffered the same fate. They eventually made it to the hairdresser only to have their long silky locks hacked away into mohawks. Soon their faces would adorn permanent marker mustaches and other unflattering 'enhancements'. Then the inevitable day would come when Barbie's fate was sealed. Her demise was seen in a heap of body parts... a head here... a bendable leg there... the 'perfect' parts that once assembled the 'perfect' body, now laid in a 'perfect' pile upon the floor. Mom never wanted me to destroy my toys but something felt so damn rewarding about dismantling that image.

Maybe it is time we collectively dethroned Barbie from her iconic status and dismantled the one-note beauty ideal she has come to represent. Think of what a different world it would be if beauty was celebrated in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. We can have that world if we all do our part to raise awareness and use our voices to educate and empower. Use your voice to pass it on today.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"The Big Fat Lie" February 2010 Focus


  • Make a commitment to participate in the NEDAwareness Week by doing just one thing. Post about your experiences at, "The Big Fat Lie" blog to share with the community how you have chosen to become involved in this effort and what you learned along the way.
  • Up the NEAT factor in your life. Think outside the box of structured workouts and simply move more.
  • Do you have a hobby? Is there a creative outlet you have longed to explore? This month make contact with your creativity by getting crafty. Take up a new hobby or revive an old passion. Creativity is the soul's expression. Take some time to think about arts and crafts that interest you. There are many avenues to explore. You may want to try your hand at beading, jewelery making, knitting, leather work, painting, or pottery. The possibilities are endless. Creative expression is a wonderful way to get in touch with the language of your spirit.
Feel Your Connection to Nature:
  • In honor of hearts and flowers month, give a little love back to the planet. Purchase your bouquets at the farmer's market or through your local grower. Not only will you stimulate the economy in your area, you will also be reducing your carbon footprint by not contributing to the impact that packing and shipping has on our natural resources. While out buying flowers for the one you love, be sure to pick up a beautiful bouquet for yourself. Let the blooms add a rosy glow to your home reminding you of just how special you really are.

NEDAwareness Week: February 21-27, 2010


NEDAwareness Week 2010, February 21-27: Key Messages

The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to attract public and media attention to the seriousness of eating disorders and the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that contribute to them.

2010 Theme: It's Time to Talk About It

This year the National Eating Disorders Association is stressing that it's time to talk about eating disorders. We live in a culture saturated with unrealistic body-image messages and almost all of us know somebody struggling with an eating disorder. Because this is true, we urge you to talk about it... and do just one thing during NEDAwareness Week. To:
  • Raise awareness that eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices.
  • Provide accurate information to medical, educational and/or business communities.
  • Direct people to information and resources about eating disorders.
Join NEDA and "The Big Fat Lie", by doing, "Just One Thing"

You don't need to have a lot of time, money or other resources to make a difference. Simply choose one thing you will do to help. Here are a few examples:
  • Bring a NEDAwareness Volunteer Speaker to your school, work, or social group.
  • Provide accurate information: Put NEDAwareness Week posters, pamphlets and informational handouts in your schools, community centers, medical offices or workplaces (supplies are available to print up free of charge when you register to become involved in NEDAwareness Week).
  • Be a Media Watchdog. Write one letter in praise of an ad promoting positive body-image or in protest of an ad promoting negative body-image.
  • Maximize the power of your social networking sites: Re-tweet a fact about eating disorders, put up a link to the NEDA website and Helpline, encourage your contacts to learn more about eating disorders and join you in doing just one thing.
1. Eating disorders are illnesses, not choices.

Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors. As our natural body size and shape is largely determined by genetics, fighting your natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body-image and decreased self-esteem. While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about much more than food. Recent research has shown that genetic factors create vulnerabilities (anxiety, obsessions, perfectionism) that place individuals at risk for acting on cultural pressures, messages and triggering behaviors such as dieting or obsessive exercise.

In the United States, as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life or death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. Approximately 15 million more are struggling with binge eating disorder. Because of the secrecy and shame associated with eating disorders, it is very likely that many more go unreported.

2. Prevention, education and access to care are critical.

There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 years old in each decade since 1930; over one person's lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of eating disorders. In the United States, we are inundated with messages telling us that to be a happy, valued person, we must be thin and fit our culture's impossible beauty standards. Did you know that 80% of all ten year olds are afraid of being fat? The average age of sufferers is dropping rapidly (as young as elementary school), with peak onset among girls ages 11-13. As a culture, it is time for all communities to talk about eating disorders, address their causes, advocate for access to treatment and take preventative action. You can make a difference: do just one thing to initiate awareness, education and discussion about eating disorders in your community. If we all do something, we'll have a huge impact!

3. Help is available, and recovery is possible.

While eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses, there is help available and recovery really is possible. It is important for those affected to remember that they are not alone in their struggle; others have recovered and are now living healthy fulfilling lives. Let the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) be a part of your network of support. NEDA has information and resources available via their website and helpline:

NEDA Helpline: (800) 931-2237

There is also additional peer support available in an active forum format with, "Through Thick and Thin":

"Through Thick and Thin" is a community devoted to fighting back against the distortions of media and the diet industry. The support is free and open to all seeking peace with food and their bodies as they navigate a path to freedom from eating disorder.

Please join, "The Big Fat Lie" in a show of support for raising awareness about eating disorders. Follow this link to be led to the NEDA site where you can sign-up to be a part of this important consciousness-raising event by doing just one thing.

Throughout the month of February 2010, "The Big Fat Lie" will be doing our part to spread the word. We will be presenting information to empower our community with knowledge about eating disorders and share how you can get involved. Stay tuned for future educational posts.

I encourage our project participants to post their experiences with NEDAwareness week here at, "The Big Fat Lie" site. Share how you have chosen to spread this timely message. I also welcome the followers of our project to add comments about their own personal experiences with this effort. If you feel inspired to submit a writing piece about your efforts to raise awareness, please send submissions to:

I will happily post your submissions. I would love to see our community come out full force in a show of support for this event. Take a stand, raise your voice and get involved today. NEDA and "The Big Fat Lie" thank you for your participation.