This is a post by one of my Summer 2013 interns, Kelsey. Find more posts from her and other current and former interns under the Intern Corner section. – Shanna
With over 24 million people in the United States suffering from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorders, and thousands more on restrictive diets, body positive organizations like HAES (Health at Every Size) are revolutionary in the fight for health and positive body image. HAES stands behind the principle that skinny does not equal healthy.
The phrase “I can’t… I’m on a diet” is usually harmful for the entire body. When you are on a diet, you are depriving your body of valuable nutrients – things your body needs to function properly and feel healthy. In fact, most people who diet and lose more than the recommended one-pound per week gain the weight back within 6 months to make up for diet induced starvation.
Before you start a diet it is important to ask yourself WHY.
• Are you trying to lose weight to look a certain way?
• Are you channeling emotional control issues into controlling the food that you eat?
• How much weight are you trying to lose?
• Who will be an emotional support system and educational resource during your weight loss
• Are you exercising and are you eating enough to do so?
According to HAES, the best way to improve health is to honor your body. Some ways to honor your body are to accept and respect the natural diversity in body types, eat in a flexible manner, and appreciate the natural movement of the body, like finding movements, stretches and exercises that you enjoy. Approach health from an individualized holistic perspective.
People who honor their body (no matter what their size) are more comfortable sexually.
• Sexuality expression is a reflection of the inner self, physical self, emotional self
• Sexuality is largely dependent on how we see our selves and how we interact with others.
• Love your body, honor your body, and actively challenge the idea the skinny means healthy.
The bottom line is that every body is different and health truly does look and feel different for everyone. What felt good yesterday, may not feel good two months from now. It is important to take time to learn what feels best and always remember to leave room for change and growth.
Important language from the World Health Organization:
Eating Disorder: Eating disorders are a group of serious conditions in which you’re so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else.
Anorexia nervosa: Anorexia is an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight and the food they eat. People with anorexia attempt to maintain a weight that’s far below normal for their age and height. To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia nervosa may starve themselves or exercise excessively.
Bulimia nervosa: People with bulimia may secretly binge — eating large amounts of food — and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. For example, someone with bulimia may force vomiting or do excessive exercise.
Binge Eating Disorder: Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food. But for some people, overeating crosses the line to binge-eating disorder and it becomes a regular occurrence, usually done in secret. When you have binge-eating disorder, you may be deeply embarrassed about gorging and vow to stop. But you feel such a compulsion that you can’t resist the urges and continue binge eating.
Diet: Intentional reduction in calories, restriction of foods with the goal of weight loss.
Holistic Health: Includes all aspects of health such as mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and financial wellbeing.