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.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mindfulness Training for Eating Disorders.

Most eating disorders are linked to significant amounts of stress, mood disturbance, anxiety, phobias, substance abuse, and physical complications. All these factors have to be addressed when someone is trying to overcome an eating disorder.

Mindfulness training is a technique which can help a person to cope with all these factors. Mindfulness means a calm awareness of body functions, feelings, emotions, thoughts and sensations.

Mindfulness consists of paying attention to an experience of the present moment — without moving into thoughts from the past or concerns about the future. Using mindfulness training people with eating disorders can attain control over their body and mind.

What exactly does mindfulness do for the mind and body? The main benefits of mindfulness are:
1.Calm and quiet the mind. This will bring more happiness, joy, positive feelings, appreciation and gratitude into people’s lives. It will also increase kindness to yourself and others which is necessary for ED sufferers as they often behave badly to themselves and others due to their conditioning.

2.Diminish the grip of habitual responses that cause suffering. ED sufferers all have certain habitual responses to their feelings, thoughts and emotions. For example, bulimics have habits to binge-purge at a certain time a day; anorexics have strict habits and routines about their diets and exercising.

Mindfulness can diminish these habitual behaviours to the point that the sufferer is able to choose how she/he is going to behave at a particular moment.

For example, instead of realizing 10-30 minutes later that you've been lost in bad thoughts about your body, weight, food, your bad memories or fantasies from the past, a person can stop themself after only 30-60 seconds from wandering thoughts using mindfulness training. With practise, people can increasingly observe these habitual responses and choose to respond in other more constructive ways.

3.Develop a stronger “observing self”. This means to observe what one does. It is like you having a third person who sits inside your own chest and constantly watches what you do.

Mindfulness makes a person become an observer of what one does, thinks and feels. This helps to have better control over their eating disorder thoughts and behaviours.

For example, when a person gets stressed, instead of reaching for alcohol or going on a binge –purge cycle, the person could simply sit and observe the negative emotions and sensations which were brought on by the stress until they are gone.

Unlike relaxation techniques mindfulness can be developed to the point where it can be practiced in the middle of stressful situations. So instead of reacting to stress a person starts to respond wisely. While being mindful a person can still remain alert and respond appropriately to the situation at hand, instead of being over powered by it.

4.Slow down the pace of thoughts and become more attune to the present moment. Eating disorder people often complain that they have too much continual inner "chatter" and images from the past or from the future in their minds.

This chatter and images don't simply go away, because that’s the nature of the human mind. But they can be settled down with practice. This settling down of the mental processes brings relaxation and freedom.

With practice one will have the ability to choose what to think about instead of being dragged along with uncontrolled thoughts and feelings. This effect can be experience after just 8-12 minutes of mindfulness state of mind. So, if one practices mindful awareness at least 10 -15 min a day, it may possible for him/her to choose what to think instead of their thoughts going uncontrolled.

Mindfulness will also increase your concentration letting you perform task , study and work with better accuracy. It also improves the immune system and general health. It regulates the autonomic nervous system which control automatic functions of the body organs. Mindfulness is a great anti- aging factor as it improves metabolism of the cells.

Most eating disorder sufferers who practice mindfulness training find it an incredible tool to beat their problem right at root of the disorder, in the subconscious mind.

You can read about healing meditation for eating disorders CDs at http://www.meditation-sensation.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Magical Benefits Of Meditation For People With Eating Disorders

Many researches have proven now that people with eating disorders derive a lot of benefits from doing meditation. Eating disorder sufferers have disturbances in autonomic nervous system, problems with impulse control and many emotional problems. All these can be improved with regular meditation.

You see, human beings are made up of three components—physical, mental and emotional. You can think of it as like a triangle with the same length sides. To correct eating disorders all the sides of triangle have to be balanced.

The Mental side represents the knowledge people learn about their condition and how to cope with it. The physical side represents the natural strength of a person’s body which we inherit from parents. The Emotional side of the triangle is the one which always becomes unstable in people with eating disorders.

That’s why eating disorders sufferers have very bad mood swings, uncontrollable negative thoughts, long-standing bad feelings and painful sensations in different parts of the body that they try to moderate with food (obsessive eating or abstaining from food).

Emotional strengthening is the key to curing many eating disorder problems. Meditation and relaxation techniques are great strategies to do for emotional strengthening in order to become healthy again.

In order to understand about emotional strengthening, you first need to understand a bit about how the brain works. You’re probably aware that our brains work across a range of different levels or brain-wave frequencies. While the range is actually continuous, it is divided for convenience into 4 categories—beta, alpha, theta and delta.

As adults, we spend most of our waking time in the beta area. Beta is where we do our logical thinking, rationalising and planning. Stress also occurs in the beta wavelength but on high frequencies beta waves. Eating disorder sufferers spend nearly all their time on high frequencies beta waves where the problem lies.

Alpha, on the other hand, while still an “awake” state, is that relaxed, day-dreamy state that you can go into when you are doing something creative (eg, painting, knitting) or meditation. It’s the time when your mind just wanders freely, and when time just seems to fly by.

Alpha-experience represents a relatively stress-free and euphoric state of being. For eating disorder sufferers the alpha state helps to balance their autonomic nervous system and correct impulse control problems.

Now here’s another important piece of the puzzle—besides containing our feelings and emotions, the alpha (sub-conscious) state also contains our “self-beliefs”. Our self-beliefs are the sub-conscious view you have of yourself (the real you), they drive our behaviour at a sub-conscious level. They are similar to the programs you have on your computer that makes it run.

So if, for example you have a self-belief that says “I am bulimic or I am a binge eater or anorexic”, the behaviour that results is that you perform compulsive eating, binge or starve yourself actions. This becomes the real you even if you consciously don’t want to become that person.

Where do self-beliefs come from? Mostly they develop in us at a very young age up to when we are teenagers. These self beliefs go through many developmental stages throughout our lives. It’s interesting to note that, unlike adults, children spend the majority of their waking time in the alpha region and this is why they are so resilient.

Most of our adult behaviours are based on “programming” we picked up before the age of 7. Many eating disorder sufferers picked up their programming when they where youngsters to teenagers.

When it comes to getting results, your self-belief (programming) will always win out over your conscious desire. So it does not matter if you get up every morning swearing that you will eat today, or you will not binge, but by the end of the day you have not done what you said you will do. This is because you are in the beta state and this can not affect the subconscious mind, so you are doomed from the start.

That’s why it seems impossible for many people to stop their eating disorders. But the problem is that they try to fight it with their logical conscious mind, being in a beta state, not an alpha state.

What happens if you target an eating disorder from the alpha state?
Well, you will get a completely different result. Being in alpha state you will target the emotional core of the eating disorders self-beliefs. When sufferers start to change their self-beliefs then the magic occurs: then they can be cured from their eating problems.

Specific meditation which target people’s self-beliefs can create a real magic in the sufferers life. For eating disorder sufferers who put themselves in an alpha state while meditating regularly, means they can stop their disorder for good.
If the sufferer is only ever in a beta state this probably means they will have their disorder for the rest of their life, with no escape.

It has been proven that meditation brings enormous relieve for the eating disorder sufferer who starts to add meditation into their treatment methods.

But a word of warning, not any old meditation method will do, it has to be a system that is purposely target anorexia or bulimia or other eating disorders. It is necessary because eating disorder sufferers have specific self-beliefs (or subconscious blockages) which they must eliminate during meditation (when they are in alpha state) in order to get better.

Generic meditation which does not target specific eating disorder beliefs will work little for ED people. It will only help for stress relief and calm you down which are also beneficial things.

Dr Irina Webster MD

You can read about healing meditation for eating disorders CDs at http://www.meditation-sensation.com

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Do Parents Cause Eating Disorders in Their Children?

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the roll of parents causing eating disorders in their children, is this the case or not? It is very sensitive topic because it is painful for families to even think that they are a possible cause of their daughter/ son bulimia and/or anorexia.

I am a medical doctor and suffered anorexia and bulimia for over 15 years. Also I have been involved in the treatment of hundreds of eating disorder sufferers. Personally, I don’t know a family who wishes to foster eating disorders in their children. I would say that parents and the family do not cause eating disorders directly.

However, I know firsthand that the family atmosphere, parenting style and undiagnosed mental and emotional problems in parents contribute a lot to the development of eating disorders in their children.

There is a lot of research around about the roll of genetic predisposition in eating disorders. Yes, eating disorders do have a genetic component as well, but it is only the vulnerability to develop an eating disorder not the disease itself that people can inherit.

People can also inherit certain personality traits that make them vulnerable to developing eating disorders: like perfectionism, tendency towards anxiety and depression, competitiveness, impulsivity and extreme stubbornness. All these can make people vulnerable to developing eating disorders.

It is the environment that turns people’s vulnerability into the disease. The way people live their lives from their birth that can make genetic vulnerabilities become an illness.

The first and most important environment people have is their family. Often people with eating disorders describe how in their childhood they had a tense family environment where parents very strictly and controlling. Children in families like this don’t have much space to experiment and to be free. These types of parents don’t let their children find their own way in life, turning them into puppets that are forced to be followers and controlled by strict rules.

In families like this children turn to eating disorders as a way to control their lives the best they possible can and to find emotional escape in the space of their eating disorder.

The other type of families is the overprotective one. Their protective behaviour puts onto the child so many limitations that the child is likely to seek her/his freedom and escape in things like eating, non-eating and manipulating their own weight. These parents cannot let their children be different than what their mental image of them is or the way they think the child should be. They look at the child’s achievements only from the angle of their own desires and opinions.

Most of parents in these types of families still want only the best for their children and don’t even realize that what they are doing is bad for the child. Many parents have their own emotional issues to deal with, which are still unresolved and deeply rooted in their own childhood. Some parents maybe even have undiagnosed mental disorders like OCD or personality disorders. Because these disorders have never been diagnosed parents are not aware of them and continue to put enormous pressure on their children and other family members.

Many doctors and therapists consider that blaming parents for their children’s disorder is not a good idea, because parents may feel guilty and shameful for the way they are themselves. These feelings of guilt and shame can stop parents from helping the child to recover and parents may even refuse to participate in the child’s recovery program.

Nevertheless, it is proven now that if the family atmosphere remains the same a non- loving, demanding, restrictive and an overprotective one, the child has little chance of getting better.

The purpose of writing this article was not to put lots of blame onto parents, but just to warn the families of eating disorder sufferers that certain changes need to made in the family atmosphere if the family wants to help their loved one recover.

About eating disorders books go to http://www.eating-disorders-books.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

What are Neurotransmitters and How do they Influence the development of Eating Disorders?

What are Neurotransmitters and How do they Influence the development of Eating Disorders?

Neurotransmitters are chemicals which facilitate the transmission of signal from one neuron to another. Neurotransmitters are released in synapses (or where the ending of one neuron connects to the endings of another neuron).

There are different types of neurotransmitters. Here we will look at the most important ones.

Acetylcholine: Acetylcholine is a chemical which are involved in memory, learning and attention. When you learn something and pay attention to it – you stimulate the production of acetylcholine.

To maintain this chemical at a certain level you must keep your brain busy with attention requiring work. Study, read books, create something, solve puzzles, get a job where you can use your brain. Just do something that can stimulate the production of acetylcholine in the brain.

Eating disorder sufferers have often a very low acetylcholine level especially when they give up their studies, job and other productive activities for the sake of their eating disorder. They normally explain this quitting as the inability to concentrate, being too weak and etc.

This all happens because the level of acetylcholine in their brain is low. But they can improve it by exercising their own will, going back to study and beginning to learn again and paying attention to something more useful and constructive than their eating disorder.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which produces a sense of well-being calm and satisfaction. Many scientists blame the lack of this chemical for eating disorder problems. Serotonin has a broad function in the brain. It regulates and moderates anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, human sexuality, appetite, and metabolism, as well as stimulating vomiting.

It is still not clear what exactly happens with serotonin in the brain of eating disorder sufferers, as it is difficult to measure. But we know there are many genetic variations in the serotonin receptors and the serotonin transporters in the brain.
It is most likely that a serotonin abnormality in the brain affects each person differently. Serotonin levels can be increased naturally by taking tryptophan rich foods found in meats and proteins.

Dopamine: Dopamine is a chemical associated with pleasurable activity. It is released when people do naturally rewarding activities like having sex or enjoying food. Some drugs such as nicotine, cocaine and amphetamines can influence the level of dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is actually the culprit in many addictions such as drugs, food, and sex addictions. Dopamine also has other functions in the brain, including important roles in behaviour and cognition, motor activity, motivation and reward, inhibition of prolactin production which is involved in lactation, sleep, mood, attention, and learning.

Recent research has suggested that dopamine is also released in reward-anticipation activities and when people are motivated to do something. If you have ever wondered why you feel great after doing aerobics or playing sport, this is the brain producing dopamine. Just thinking about doing something pleasurable can produce a chemical ‘reward’ of dopamine being released in your brain.

Enjoyable learning and focusing on something you really like doing will stimulate dopamine production in your brain.
The release of dopamine triggers the desire to eat certain foods. The dopamine does not increase the pleasure of actually eating food but is released when the person sees, smells, thinks or dreams about food. Tasting enjoyable food also provokes the release of dopamine.

Dopamine plays an important role in bulimia and binge eating because these people often dream and think about food. And it is why when a bulimic or binge eater sees food she/he goes on a binge losing all sense of control.

Glutamate –it is believed that glutamate (or glutamic acid) is involved in cognitive functions like learning and memory. Many foods contain glutamate, including cheese, soy sauce, fish, eggs, poultry etc.

GABA is a neurotransmitter which is responsible for muscle tones. GABA regulates the growth embryonic and neural stem cells. Abnormal levels of GABA have been found in people with mood disorders.

Substance P is an important chemical which involves pain perception. It also participates in regulation of mood disorders, anxiety, stress, reinforcement, neurogenesis, nausea and vomiting. The vomiting centre in the brain contains high concentrations of Substance P. Activation of Substance P stimulates vomiting. People who use vomiting as a way of purging have abnormalities in the levels of Substance P.

Conclusion: Neurotransmitters play an important role in the biochemistry of eating disorders. But… The level of most of these neurotransmitters can be moderated by performing or not-performing certain actions and behaviours. Replacing one behaviour with another can change the level of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Wilful action can produce extraordinary changes in the level of these chemicals. For instance, if you wilfully stop your binging or purging episodes for at least 2-3 weeks and replace this behaviour with more productive ones, the level of neurotransmitters in your brain will change significantly and can become completely normal again. This works on the use it or lose it principle.

Always remember: your behaviour will change your biology. If you behave better – your biology improves, if you behave worse – your biology becomes worse.

To read about eating disorder cure go to http://www.eatingdisorder-cure.com

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eating Disorders are the Reverse Side of the Child Obesity Campaign

In 2006 the Australian Government launched a $6 million campaign to reduce Child obesity and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) welcomed the focus on kids' health.

The idea was to focus on junk food and get parents to stop the child from eating fast foods, sweets and other unhealthy foods. TV, radio and newspapers were running government sponsored ads to point out the dangers of these kinds of foods, with the idea to get kids eating more healthy foods.

This at the time seemed a very noble cause as overweight kids are a big problem in all western countries. The government was correct that for these overweight kids there was a great risk to their health from diseases such as diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure etc, in later life.

What they did not factor in was the psychological effects on these overweight kids and may have inadvertently created a whole new generation of eating disorder victims.
Kids were encouraged to start diet clubs at school and there have been stories of kids being weighed at school, at times in front of the whole class. We learn of incidents of bullying and social isolation of larger children which is another anecdotal trigger for eating disorders.
What has now happened is a lot of these overweight kids are starting to be ostracized by their peers and so much pressure being placed on them that they are starting to suffer from stress and other psychological ailments, like anorexia and bulimia.

What the so call experts in the government ranks forgot was that the child brain is like a giant sponge and very plastic. It absorbs huge amounts of information forming neuronal pathways with the information that is deemed to be important.

So constant teasing and emotional abuse from other kids for being a bit overweight can have a devastating effect on the child and the way they see themselves, or to put it simply their body image.

This added to the fact that the so called perfect body type is the emancipated Hollywood stars and the super thin catwalk models they see in the media: it is easy for the plastic brain of the child to form a distorted view of reality.

Even shows like Australian Idol and American Idol favor the slimmer better looking contestant, with the bigger contestant voted out of the show even if they are fantastic singers. They just don’t fit that TV mode or what a modern singing idol should look like. This is an extremely bad role model for the slightly overweight child or teenager who watches these shows; it sends a lot of false messages to their brain.

The major problem that arises from all this negative bombardment on the child about weight is the fact that it will be formed in a child brain and formed by child logic, e.g. eating food equals becoming fat, equals being teased, equals bad emotions. So the remedy is to stop eating, loose lots of weight and you will be accepted.

When these kids become adults this faulty distorted thinking will be a full blown case of an eating disorder and extremely difficult to treat because it was formed in the plastic brain of a child with child logic and emotions.
But luckily there have been major breakthroughs in the treatment of eating disorders using the fact that our brains remain plastic even into adulthood, it is call neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is a method where we are able to form new neuronal pathways by using a set of mental exercises built on new positive emotional input. Once these new pathways have been built and are used instead of the old destructive ones, the old pathways will loose their power: hence the eating disorder will disappear.

Will this be easy for this new generation of eating disorder sufferers to do: no absolutely not. The problem as stated is the fact that these faulty neuronal pathways have been build in the child brain and will be extremely hard to shift.

Unfortunately a lot of children will fail and suffer lifelong eating disorders, but luckily a lot of people will succeed using the neuroplasticity approach. Many more than will succeed with this new approach than the conventional treatment used today to treat eating disorders.

William Webster

To read about bulimia cure go to http://www.bulimia-cure.com