Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Eating Disorders and Older Women

This article will appear on the Aging But Dangerous website shortly.  I wanted to share it with you here first.  Becky

Eating Disorders Consuming Older Women

Many of us, including health professionals think of an emaciated young girl with anorexia when we hear of an eating disorder. First of all, anorexia is the least common of all eating disorders. These deadly illnesses exist on a spectrum from anorexia (AN) and bulimia (BN) to Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) which includes Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

I found out the hard way (when it took two years to get my daughter diagnosed) that health professionals often aren’t taught that people with eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, nationalities, socioeconomic backgrounds and AGES.

Not all skinny people have eating disorders.
Not all fat people have eating disorders.
Some “normal” size people have eating disorders.

It is common for women over age 50 to feel dissatisfied with their bodies and report feeling “fat” to the point it is now “normal” to dislike our bodies.  An example is from a friend of mine who developed terminal cancer and began shrinking. Once she had reached a much smaller size she told me one good thing about cancer was that now she was thin.  Sad.

I have to wonder if a doctor was shown photos of my friend, one when large and one small-a year before she died, which they would believe is the “healthy” one.  I’m certain most would choose the smaller size.  Wouldn’t they be surprised to know she was very unhealthy—dying actually.

I can’t help but see the irony in our societal views.  A fond childhood memory is sitting on my great-grandmother’s cushy lap and feeling like I was on a soft fluffy cloud. To me she was perfect. To the rest of the world she was a fat old lady.

Books on the subject:
A Girl Called Tim - Escape from an Eating Disorder Hell by June Alexander – Australian author, international eating disorder advocate
Healing Your Hungry Heart by Joanna Poppink, MFT
Lying in Weight: the Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women by Trisha Gura

When we as society stop looking at the outside and start looking at souls and what is on the inside we will all become stronger and better.

If you care about anyone with an eating disorder and want support please check out our fall tele-class series and our Date Without ED opportunities at

Becky Henry
President, Hope Network, LLC
National Award Winning Author of: Just Tell Her to Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders – Available at


DAVID HAAS said...

I have a question about your blog. Please email me!

Becky said...

Happy to email you David, please send me your email address.