Thursday, January 28, 2010

Healthy Body Image, Eating, Fitness and Weight and NO DIETS?

True, it is possible to be healthy and fit without dieting. If you are a reader of this blog you know by now that I am very "anti-diet" and don't mince words about that. You've probably heard me say it many ways, diets don't work, most eating disorders begin with a diet, the dieting industry is a 40 billion dollar a year industry, and did I mention DIETS DON'T WORK!

On January 16th a long term Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of mine was realized! Eight years ago, after 2 years of many failed attempts at getting my daughter's eating disorder diagnosed, I walked into the pediatricians office and handed her my daughter's diagnosis on a silver platter. Well, okay, verbally I angrily told her that I now had confirmation of my suspicions from reputable sources (teenagers who had a front row seat to the action). So we politely asked for a referral to eating disorders treatment. That day I made a promise to myself that ONE DAY I would find a way to take up where our medical schools have chosen to leave off and get the information about eating disorders to health care providers so that they would have the tools they need to both diagnose and refer eating disorders as well as not cause them with their language. After 2 years of planning with three very talented health care providers, we did it! I have been fortunate to meet these three women who share a passion about creating health in people who are challenged by eating, fitness, weight and body image concerns. Together we formed a small coalition called: Moving Mountains 4 Health.

Michele Gorman, MS, RD, LD shared with our diverse group of health care providers and educators the details of how the stress response takes a long-term toll on both the mind and body. She shared data on the impact of worry about weight, restricting food, overeating and dieting on our bodies.

Kathy Kater, LICSW is a well-known expert on research related to the onset and development of the full spectrum of body image, eating, nutrition, fitness and weight concerns and has spoken widely on paradigms for addressing these important issues. Kathy shared details of the Model for Health Body Image and Weight as a universal health promotion model.

Katja Rowell, MD spoke as the expert on Family Feeding Dynamics (also the name of her business). She shared from a medical perspective the Division of Responsibility in feeding and how it increases nutritional variety while decreasing conflict. I love how she says she helps take anxiety off the menu.

I then spoke about the importance of language and including families in eating disorders treatment and why that is important. My wish is that it will no longer be accepted practice to exclude parents from their child's eating disorders treatment. After all, the therapist, doctor or dietician sees your child for one 50 minute hour and the parents are responsible for the other 167 hours in the week. I learned that what we experienced in being told to back off, not talk about food, not talk about the emotional challenges our child was facing now has a term, it's called a "parentectomy" and that is not an effective treatment model.

I cannot go back now, with the knowledge I have, and have a re-do. NOT that I would want to relive that living hell, but I am making it my mission to educate both the families and the health care providers so that other families might get a quicker diagnosis and be able to begin treatment immediately in order to have a drastically improved chance at full recovery.

I feel like living proof that if you are tenacious and have passion you can see your dreams come true.

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