Welcome to Mom Please Help

This blog is for all eating disorder sufferers, where they can get help and useful information. It is run by William Webster BA. For Karen Phillips.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Can you fight bulimia and other food addictions with natural medicine?

Bulimics and other food addicts eat compulsively. They can’t stop their compulsion if they have started eating and disregard the consequences of their behaviors.
These people are persistently preoccupied with buying, preparing, cocking and eating food. They also can sneak or steal food, hide the food in their bags, cupboards, draws and other places.

When the food supply is cut off, withdrawal symptoms can occur, including chills, dizziness, headaches, poor concentration, nausea and lethargy.

A food-related addiction can also be accompanied by co addictions. Many bulimics may also binge on alcohol or get addicted to prescription drugs or even over-the-counter medications like diuretics and laxatives.
Bulimics may be addicted to cigarettes to help moderate their food cravings.

The treatment for food addicts and bulimics is complex. Behavioral therapy, family therapy, nutritional therapy and even hospitalization can be used to treat sufferers.
But the most difficult things in the treatment process still remain the coping with cravings to binge or binge and purge during the recovery process.

If only you can stop the cravings to overeat! Some sufferers even describe it as little voices in the head which force them to binge. If only you can stop them or at least make them not that strong.

Many methods have been tried to kick a food addiction. The most beneficial methods are probably the ones which involved changing person’s way of thinking and dealing with emotions. But I also found that some herbal therapy can help you to fight your food addiction also.
These herbs seem to be useful for kicking food addiction:

Gymnema blocks the taste and metabolism of sugar if consumed before eating. It can quickly help your body stop sugar dependency.

Amla is rich in nutrients, especially vitamin C. Ayurvedic medicine uses it a lot to help people feel lighter and happier. It is also a mild laxative.

Alfalfa is also rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. But the main benefit is that it contains enzymes that helps digest the food (for bulimics it is necessary because bulimics have slow digestive processes).

Ginger stimulates circulation to all parts of the body. Also it improves digestion and gives body more energy.

Burdock improves fat metabolism and eliminates extra water from the body. It is very beneficial for kidney, liver and bowel function.

Nettle is a traditional remedy for cellulite. Also eliminates extra water from the body and stimulates blood circulation.

Dandelion Root improves liver function and metabolism of fat. The leaf is a natural diuretic and is rich in trace minerals, especially potassium.

Fennel Seed is a natural appetite suppressant and helps to control your cravings for specific foods.

Cola Nut is a stimulant. It contains caffeine and theobromine. It can be used to suppress hunger and mental exhaustion.

Cinnamon is naturally sweet. It can lower the desire for other sugars. It also improves circulation.

Cardamom helps to digest grains and dairy products. It also improves circulation in the digestive system itself.

St. John’s Wort is a natural antidepressant and anxiety reliever. It can help to stop emotional eating.

Valerian Root is a natural sedative. It also can be used to stop emotional eating.

Yerba Mate works as an appetite suppressant, an antidepressant and a mild stimulant. It can stop a binging cycle. It is also rich in nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

Flaxseed oil can help to stop cravings for fatty food. Take a one tablespoon of this oil daily to stop fat cravings.

This is only a few of many other herbs that can help to fight food addictions and bulimia.
For more information go to www.mom-please-help.com

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Media and influence on women body image.

It has become obvious now that the media advertises and promotes a very unhealthy trend of extreme dieting and other bad eating habits to women. Most of media sources put on their covers images of skinny emancipated females. Doing this they influence the subconscious mind of the masses. And women continue to spend their money trying to achieve this unattainable look they constantly see in media advertising.
To try and solve this problem let’s answer the next questions. 1. What is body image? 2. What kind of trends in the media industry are we noticing now? 3. How do the media influence our perception of body image? 4. What could be the reasons behind this? 5. What are the consequences of this kind of trend? 6. What are some real suggestions on how to improve your body image?
Your body image is how you perceive, think and feel about your body. This may have no bearing at all on your actual appearance. For instance, it is common in Western nations for women to believe they are larger and fatter than they really are. Only one in five women is satisfied with their body weight. Nearly half of all normal weight women overestimate their size and shape. A distorted body image can lead to self-destructive behavior, like dieting or eating disorders. Approximately nine out of 10 young Australian women have dieted at least once in their lives.
So, the basic trend in the media industry at the moment is to promote slim, even skinny unnatural looking women’s bodies as being beautiful.
Women of all ages but especially young women look at magazines, TV, movies and other media products full of images that show skinny women’s bodies. And these are perceived by the subconscious mind of young women as being a role model to follow and aspire to be like. Achieving this skinny look does not come naturally; it inevitably leads to practicing some kind of dieting, excessive exercising or abnormal eating behaviors.
Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 per cent less than the average woman—but today’s models weigh 23 per cent less. Advertisers believe that thin models sell products. When the Australian magazine New Woman recently included a picture of a heavy-set model on its cover, it received a truckload of letters from grateful readers praising the move. But its advertisers complained and the magazine returned to featuring bone-thin models.
What could be the reason behind all this? Why has this fashion trend occurred now? Why are standards of beauty being imposed on women, the majority of whom are naturally larger than any of the models?
The reasons for this according to some analysts, is an economic one. By presenting an ideal look which is difficult to achieve and maintain the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. It is estimated that the diet industry alone is worth $100 billion (U.S.) a year. This is a lot of money and certainly worth their while to continue to foster emancipated women as being the norm.
And the consequences of this trend are huge. On the one hand, women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet pills or other diet supplies.
On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls.
The level of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are increasing rapidly every year. It is estimated that around 5 per cent of women and 1 percent of men have an eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia or binge eating some time in their life.
And about 15 per cent of all young women have significantly distorted eating attitudes and behavior that can lead to developing anorexia or bulimia in the near future.
So, what would be some real suggestions on how to improve your body image without resorting to unhealthy eating habits?
The First one is to change your goal from weight loss to just improving your health. Second, is to focus more the internal beauty like improving your self-esteem, self-confidence and internal strengths of your character. Get informed by reading up on body image issues and self-improvement books. And give yourself a break from women’s magazines and the mass media advertising for a while if you feel you maybe prone to this kind of false perceptions.
To sum up, the media does impact on women’s body image significantly and it can affect women’s physical and mental health in a negative way. And the only way to stop these negative effects coming from the media is to teach women not to judge themselves by the beauty industry's standards and learn not to compare themselves to the cover girls. And also it is important to promote a healthy life style with emphasis on internal beauty like improving self-esteem and self-confidence. Not on being a stick like model.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Cause of Bulimia Nervosa.

Cause of Bulimia Nervosa.

Bulimia is one of the most rapidly increasing psychological problems around nowadays. But what causes bulimia? Is it an extreme response to Western society’s pressure on young girls and women to be slim?
Or are there other factors contributing to the problem?
Can we influence these factors and change their effects on people?

Genetic, environmental, biological are all common factors that have to be looked at when we talk about the causes of any diseases or disorders.

Let’s look at these things in the case of Bulimia.

Scientific research recently has shown that people are born with an inherited predisposition towards developing bulimia, particularly where susceptibility to addiction is in the genes. It reveals that bulimics inherit a gene responsible for the addiction from their ancestors. This addiction can appear in different forms: alcohol addiction, drug addiction, food addiction, nicotine and the like. That’s why many bulimics also suffer from addictions to other substances also, making recovery difficult.

So a genetic predisposition to bulimia may be there but it is not a single bulimia gene itself that is the culprit but a general addiction gene. And in many bulimic families we can trace backwards to past members of the family who suffered from other kinds of addiction in their lives.

But on the other hand not all people who get an addiction gene suffer from bulimia or other addictions. So we have to look at other things like environmental factors.

Environmental factors can contribute to triggering the onset of bulimia. These include peer pressures, family attitudes, the influence of the media creating a need for thinness, poor self-esteem and a lack of acceptance of self and body shape.

Bulimia often begins with a dissatisfaction of the person's body. The individual may actually be underweight, but when that person looks in a mirror they see a distorted image and feel heavier than they really are. At first, this distorted body image leads to dieting. As the body image in the mirror continues to be seen as larger than it actually is, the dieting escalates and leads to bulimia. The bottom line however, is that bulimia is the misuse of food to try to resolve emotional problems. When a person is unable to face their feelings, define problems, and resolves them effectively, that person is more prone to become susceptible to the onset of bulimia.

A significant correlation between the development of clinical bulimia nervosa and sexual abuse has also been proven. Other forms of abuse (physical, emotional or combination of both of them) also link to developing of dissatisfaction with the person’s body that can lead to bulimia any time in the future.

Strict and cold parental attitude and luck of showing love to children from parents can become a trigger for developing a wrong body image in children that can turn into bulimia in susceptible people. That is why you should never tease your child if they are a little bit over weight as this could just be a normal growing process for that child’s body shape. But a wrong word from a parent or family member may inadvertently send that person down the track to bulimia.

The next factor which can cause bulimia is biological or biochemical factor. This happens when one or a few biological processes in the human body have gone off track. Some research has shown that an insufficiency of a special hormone in the brain called serotonin can cause depression and bulimia at the same time. This is probably why many bulimics also suffer from depression.
Some antidepressants that work on restoring the level of serotonin in the brain can help some sufferers stop their binges while taking them. This could also mean that many sufferers, who manage to stop their bulimia for a short while, go back to binging again when they stop the antidepressants.

Anyone who has been on antidepressants and has stopped should look for other supplements where they can substitute the loss of serotonin; I believe you can get serotonin in the health food stores in capsules form. Although taking serotonin on its own will not automatically stop your bulimia, as it is a much deeper psychological problem that a single chemical imbalance: but it would not hurt either.

As you can see, many factors can contribute to the development of bulimia. For some sufferers it is the environmental factors that come into play, like desire to be thin, peer pressure to be thin or influence from the media to be thin. Some people may have a strong genetic influence that can be traced to past relatives who may have suffered from bulimia or other addictions.

Depressed sufferers will blame their low serotonin level in the brain for their bulimia. But the majority of people probably have a combination of factors that has caused their bulimia.

In conclusion, the causes of bulimia could be many: genetic, biological and environmental. So far we can’t change the genes we are born with but we can manage to control certain behaviors brought on by defective genes, with the correct methods.

To change biological factors like low serotonin levels in the brain, it is possible with certain drugs or supplementation, but it does not work for everyone. The only bulimia factor we can change easily is the environmental factor. This includes changing our attitude to body image, our perception of real beauty and our eating habits.

By promoting a healthy environment we can eradicate or significantly diminish one of the main causes of bulimia - the environmental factor. The other causes can also be controlled if we are aware of their existence.

Dr Irina Webster

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How to Cure Eating Disorders

How to Cure Eating Disorders.

By Dr Irina Webster

I have been searching for a great treatment to cure Eating Disorders for a long time because I have a close friend whose daughter Amy suffered badly from Anorexia and then Bulimia.

If you’ve been interested in finding the answer regarding a cure for an Eating Disorders then this article will help you. You know that eating disorders are conditions brought on when a person associate food e.g.: refusing to eat or on the contrary compulsive overeating and throwing up, with a feeling of being in control, pleasure, truth, confidence etc.

To explain more: the person associates all their good positive feelings, control, pleasure, truth and self-confidence with food. They feel reassured by the control they have over their food intake and use it as a substitute for their lack of control over their feelings in the real world.

So, the question is – how do you go about changing these distorted associations with food and what must be done exactly to get the sufferer to see other avenues for themselves other than their present conditions and misdirected dependence on food. More importantly can we get the sufferer to change at all?

The answer is – Yes, we can.

But how can we do it? – We need to change the meaning she/he has attached to food, to break the endless cycle they find themselves in on to a totally different one: difficult yes, but not impossible.

Actually, all successes attributed to Psychotherapy only ever depends on how quickly people can change the meaning they attach to different things in life.

Here are three Fundamentals to create a new meaning in life (in the case of eating disorder sufferers this is about food and Control):

1) ) Get leverage. This means you have get to the point where you believe you must change, you must change your eating habits and you MUST change it right now. You must believe that not to change will be more painful and that change will bring you pleasure.

If you only get to the point of thinking that you maybe should change. This is not enough to create a long lasting change in your behavior. Only a definite MUST change will give you leverage.

2) Interrupt the pattern.

This is when you do something totally unexpected in relation to your dominating thoughts in our case food.

For example, when a bulimic person gets a bit stressed by the end of day or feels uncomfortable regarding something – the first thought reaction for her/him would be binge eat and purge (this is the way for her/him) to get pleasure, control and inner confidence.

For anorexic – the thoughts of success and looking good and being confident associated with refusing to eat and starving yourself is their way of dealing with things.

This pattern (thoughts association) needs to be interrupted with some unexpected comment or behaviors which shocks the person into paying more attention to what is going on right here and now in their mind.

For example, I watch on TV once how one American Psychotherapist breaks the thoughts patterns of people with major phobias. One man had a major phobia with spiders (he saw spiders everywhere and was horrified just with his thoughts about spiders).

The Psychotherapist asked the guy:”How do you feel about spiders?”
The man turned pale and looked extremely anxious, and his answer was : “Not very good….” And at this particular moment the Psychotherapist jumped from his chair and started hopping on one foot in front of the man shouting very loudly “Yam, yam, yam, yam “ , making jerky and funny movements with his whole body.

The man looked stunned, his attention was 100% on the Psychotherapist now, he forgot instantly about his scary feelings regarding spiders.

After jumping and shouting for a minute Psychotherapist stopped, sit on his chair like nothing had happened (he looked normal and was smiling and happily).

After a small pause he asks the man again how he feels about spiders. The man did not answer straight away because he actually needed a few seconds more to bring himself to the state of spider phobia again.
During the few seconds when the man was thinking, the Psychotherapist repeated what he did the first time, making the man completely confused of what’s going on.

The Psychotherapist repeated whole procedure quite a few times (5 or 6).

What do you think happen to the man? He was completely cured of his phobia, just from one single Psychotherapy section.

3) Breaking the old associations

An interview with this man taken a few months later was shown on TV as well. In this interview he said that now he does not have scary feelings about spiders any more and he stop seeing them.

He also said that now if someone mentions to him about spiders he laughs, because he has a different association now, he associate spiders with these funny things the Psychotherapist did during the session where he was caught by surprise and even shocked with what had happened.

Another American Psychotherapist I know use to splash cold water people’s into faces at the time when people are describing their fears or feelings of bad habits. Again it breaks the association with their habits or phobias.

So the trick is to get the eating disorder sufferer to break their association with food by interrupting their thought processes when they feel compelled to not eat or eat and purge. You just need to workout the most appropriate time to do it. You may not be able to break their eating disorder with one single session but combined this with other things and it will be of great benefit.

You can create lots of ways of interrupting someone’s behavioral pattern if you really start thinking about it.

For more information about treating Eating Disorders (especially Anorexia and Bulimia) go to http://www.mom-please-help.com

Dr Irina Webster MD
Director of Women Health Issues

Monday, September 24, 2007

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders

A study performed by researchers at the School of Psychology at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia found that exposure to idealized media images of “perfect” thin female and muscular male body types had negative effects on an individual’s own body image and body change behaviors.

One hundred thirty-three women and 93 men were assessed for body image beliefs before being exposed to the images. The researchers wanted to know how certain psychological factors predicted changes in the study participants’ emotions after being exposed.

The Eating Disorder Inventory-2, the Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire, and the strategies to increase muscles subscale of the Body Change Inventory were used to assess attitudes before image exposure. Participants were surveyed for body dissatisfaction, internalization of the thin/athletic ideal, body comparison, self-esteem, depression and identity confusion.
Researchers wanted to see if attitudes in these areas made people more or less susceptible to body dissatisfaction and unhealthy body change behavior after viewing idealized images.

After being assessed, the participants were exposed to idealized thin female and muscular male models. Visual analogue scales were used to measure changes in post-exposure state body dissatisfaction, anger, anxiety and depression.

Results showed a marked increase in eating disorder symptoms in women and body dissatisfaction in men. Women appeared to be affected by their attitudes in all psychological areas assessed; men were mostly affected by psychological attitudes in internalization and body comparison.

What’s interesting is that the women began to display a change in behavior, picking up eating disorder behavior as a result of exposure. Men simply felt badly about their own bodies, but they did not appear to turn to drastic measures as a result.
This may be because women were more affected by the state of their self-esteem than the men, which could make them more likely to “punish” their bodies as a result of dissatisfaction.

This information points to a possible need for greater media responsibility in relation to the images they portray. People also need to be educated about the role of the media and the ways in which those portrayed achieved the “ideal” bodies. Many images are airbrushed, and many models turn to unhealthy behaviors to achieve the supposedly “healthy ideal.”