The SparkPeople Blog

Eating Disorders Can Strike at Any Age

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/22/2009 6:30 PM   :  99 comments   :  17,354 Views

Last week Coach Nicole emailed me a link to an article published in the New York Times regarding midlife eating disorders. While I was quite aware of anorexia, bulimia and binging being diagnosed in young women, I was unaware of the rise of these disorders in women of my generation--women in their 30's, 40's, 50's and beyond.

So is this a new trend or could it be that women my age are finally seeking treatment for issues they have had for years?

I know for me, poor body image issues started when I was entering adolescence. I embarked on my first diet at the tender age of 12 after overhearing a conversation regarding my thighs. It was probably just a nonchalant comment made between adults, but sadly one that I took to heart and lived with for well over 32 years. These were years I spent either on a diet or off a diet but never really embracing healthy living.

When I was reviewing the symptoms of binge eating disorders via the Eating Disorder Center of Denver website, I realized that this is how I had been eating for many years prior to February of 2005. It wasn't uncommon for me to have recurrent episodes of binging without purging, many times followed by feelings of disgust and depression over my lack of willpower, followed by yet another failed diet attempt.

Now I realize that all these symptoms are related to a binge eating disorder. And while I never thought of myself as having a 'true eating disorder', which I equated to starvation, not eating, and purging, reading the symptoms made me realize that I did at one time suffer from disordered eating.

Some researchers have even resorted to calling this trend of midlife eating disorders as The Desperate Housewives Syndrome due to the thin and youthful appearance of the characters on the show.

Yet we cannot blame television or Hollywood alone for this issue. According to Dr. Tamara Pryor, author of the "The Desperate Housewives Syndrome Research on Mid-Life Patients with Eating Disorders", as many as 94% of women suffering from midlife eating disorders had previously suffered from an episode sometime earlier in their lives. Therefore, pointing the blame at society alone will not reverse the trend. Instead we must empower ourselves that we are more worthy than a number on the scale or the size on a tag.

For me one of the biggest wake-up calls was being told a few years ago by a Registered Dietitian and trainer that I should not expect to have the body I had in my twenties. Due to child baring and my age, my body had changed, but that did not mean I could not be the best 40 something I could be. Letting go of the past and the desire to be what I once was has allowed me to move on to the future and accept where I am right now.

Were you aware of this trend of midlife eating disorders? Do you strive to have the body you had in your youth? Do you find the pressure to be thin just as challenging in your midlife as you did in your youth?






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Comments

  • BLUEBRIT
    99
    To be perfectly honest, I think I've had an eating disorder since birth!! Seriously, I was one of those babies that refused formula or milk. I would only drink juice. So, of course, I was a very skinny baby. Even when I started on solids, my body rejected any meat products. Apparently, my doctor told my mum to 'hide' meats in stews to see if I just didn't like it or I had a problem digesting the meat. It turned out, I definitely had a problem digesting meat. I've been a vegetarian most of my life. I can manage a small amount of chicken once in a blue moon. Even though I do have this digestive problem, I've been in and out of hospitals my whole life anorexic. I don't have anorexic nervosa. I have anorexia due to stress and depression. Having a rotten diet doesn't help either. My baby grandson eats more in a day than I eat in a week. I'm trying right now to eat healthier only because I can't stand the thought of another feeding tube. I have a Gastroenterologis but he is of absolutely no help at all. Yes, he did operate on me for a twisted intestine but obviously, this condition hasn't helped my condition and all I hear is, "drink Ensure" or some other vile mix. - 11/27/2010   3:17:21 PM
  • DONNAESTHER
    98
    Looking back I can now see I was quite 'normal' but surrounded by girls built like a flatchested fencerail, they could eat anything and everything and not gain an ounce. There was me - well developed, curvy and seeing myself through their eyes. I am 65 years of age and it was only in 1994 that I realised although I had come to terms with and liked myself,I was never as big as they made me feel. I have allergy and food dietary problems but they have been accentuated by the way I tried to CONTROL my weight. How disgusted I am with all the wasted time - 4/24/2010   1:21:22 PM
  • 97
    Though I'm not surprised by this, it makes me sad. I thought by the time we reached our 30's and 40's we were supposed to feel more self actualized, comfortable in our skin and confident with the lives we live. Not so influenced by media stereotypes and the unhealthy images flooding the magazines and airwaves. It's such a huge issue in our society, one that seems to be spreading beyond the young white teenage girl to all races, classes, ages, and genders! I hope this brings some attention to the great need to deal with this. - 4/1/2010   11:11:13 AM
  • BIJOUX7
    96
    This blog really hit home for me. I have battled an eating disorder since my teens. Although, I am currently at a healthy weight and practicing healthy exercise habits, Ana is always lurking around the corner. - 2/4/2010   3:58:23 PM
  • MONABROAD
    95
    I think it is amazing that we haven't suffered from eating disorders a long time ago. For years we have been brainwashed to believe that the thinner you are the happier (more successful, wealthier, fill in the blank) we'll be. And to some extent it's true. Certainly we have felt it in the workplace. I have to go the extra mile over and over again to be treated as well as my thinner co-worker. And I'm taken less seriously and treated as though I'm less intelligent because I'm overweight. I have felt the pressure to try every diet and try every method to lose weight and become thin. Of course over time that pressure results in something -- often, a wrecked metabolism, as some have mentioned, and destroyed self confidence and self esteem. There's a happy medium somewhere in there and we all can find it. It will just take some doing. - 2/4/2010   1:26:19 AM
  • ANGIEBEANZ26
    94
    I think that we all have an eating disorder in one way or another. So many people eat until they feel they're going to explode, then try to starve themselves for a day. We just need to end this. It obviously doesn't help. Spark People helps me control my binge episodes, but it's not easy. Restriction is probably almost always the cause for binging. One of my personal goals is not to binge, or over restrict. I've felt the results of an eating disorder since I was 13, now 21 I hope I can overcome it. Great article, people need to have a better understanding of these disorders so we can all get over them. - 11/4/2009   10:57:26 AM
  • 93
    Eating disorders don't just go away. They're something you battle for the rest of your days as long as you live. Mine started when I was just ten because the doctors ignored or didn't have the technology to detect my failing metabolism and the extensive brain scarring which caused it. They only saw I was fat and I was told that I had to lose weight. I've spent most of my life obsessing about food --- how many calories, how can I burn them, how can I punish myself when I go over. It didn't help that I wasn't your standard picture of the girl with an eating disorder either. I was fat and I didn't binge and purge, I starved myself and exercised too hard. At the time I didn't know none of it would do any good because the metabolism itself was broken.

    Today, I still have to deal with that. It's taken this long to find a professional willing to listen and understand that I'm not just fat and that I do in fact have both a medical problem with my metabolism and an eating disorder because of well meaning but misinformed relatives and medical professionals.

    I don't think the incidence of eating disorders is getting higher, I just think that more of us are getting recognized and finally getting treatment. - 10/29/2009   4:58:54 PM
  • 92
    I enjoyed this blog and I totally agree. - 10/29/2009   7:36:36 AM
  • 91
    thank you for the blog.i agree totally - 10/12/2009   9:49:03 PM
  • 90
    thank you for the blog.i agree totally - 10/12/2009   9:48:53 PM
  • 89
    thank you for the blog.i agree totally - 10/12/2009   9:48:43 PM
  • JYEMERY
    88
    I was always a skinny child and teenager. Having 3 kids gave me a few desired curves, but also that dread saggy lower abdomen. I look at myself and I feel bigger than I ever was before kids...25 lbs more. Realistically, I KNOW i am not overweight, but I do look in the mirror and I see the hail damage on my thighs and calves, and I feel overweight. I have to be careful not to skip meals during those "fat feeling" days. I am new to SP and hoping thru healthy eating and regular exercise, I will feel better about my body before developing a full-fledged complex. I have found myself recently before SP, skipping 1-2 meals some days...not eating at all til dinner, and then weighing myself. I do not want to be like that. - 10/4/2009   8:59:43 PM
  • MOU37SE
    87
    I never had an eating disorder in my youth. In high school I was skinny and flat chested in the 80's when it was all the rage to be curvacious, so other than buying padded bras, my body image was pretty good. I think it started in my mid twenties when family members started to say things like, "if you gain any more weight you will be fat" and then they would push food on me. I would call them on the food pushing and the fat comments and they would say, "Oh, I didn't say you were fat, just that you will be if you're not careful." I would point out again that pushing another serving of dinner on me wasn't going to help me be careful, and the subject would change.
    I did pretty well eating when hungry, choosing somewhat healthy foods, I always liked most veggies, I just didn't eat enough of them, and like pasta way too much, but I have a naturally fast metabolism so things were pretty well OK. Then I started having kids.
    Breastfeeding took off all the pregnancy weight and finally gave me the large breasts (temporarily) I had always wanted, but my belly was so saggy now! I have about 2 handful's of extra skin from being a petite woman who had healthy sized babies. The real challenge was motherhood. My own childhood was abusive and some days it just takes everything I've got to give my children the safe, happy, healthy childhood I desire for them. By the grace of God I do it, 90% of the time I am a really wonderful mother. I am patient, understanding, protective, but not smothering, available, present, loving, and am raising capable, smart, caring children, whose company I enjoy. The cost of giving my children all these things that I never got is that I feel less than empty some days. I feel like I give them everything I have and then some, and I don't know where that something more is coming from.
    I started to realize that I eat for comfort after we moved for my husband's job to a new town where I had to give up my job and live in a crummy house with a mildew problem (I'm allergic to mildew) while we sold our beautiful house that we had just remodeled together. My whole life narrowed into driving my kids to school and back since we put them in the district where we were planning to build our house, and grocery shopping. When I realized that eating was the only thing that I did for me, I started trying to pick up some of my old hobbies, like quilting and started looking for another job.
    I got my life turned around, found a wonderful job, met new friends, but I still don't really have time for hobbies with my kids lives starting to get more busy. And the emotional overeating has stayed with me. I have dieted sensibly, I did Weight Watchers and got down to my high school weight, and maintained it for about 6 months then a beloved relative died and I ate and ate and ate, my stomach hurt and I kept eating, hoping that the next snack food really would make me feel better even though I am more than smart enough to know it won't. I have YO, YO dieted ever since, I lose some -- exercise, eat healthy, watch my portions, eat lots of veggies and no junk food and then I get sad and I eat and eat, then I go back to exercise and healthy eating.
    I'm not stupid, I know it doesn't work, and I keep looking for other ways to soothe the hurt, to distract the hunger. I am a devout Christian, I pray, I stay connected with my church, I serve others. I finally figured out that I eat because I'm anxious or depressed and I've got plenty of childhood trauma to give a person issues, so I guess that I should be grateful that this is pretty much my only issue. It still makes me angry though, that they screwed me up so much that even though I will not let what they did to me cause me to hurt my children, I can't seem to make it stop me from hurting me.


    - 9/7/2009   11:59:35 AM
  • PRINCESS2828
    86
    I think this was great. Eating disorders can hit and any age any people need to be aware. I did a paper on eating disorders when I was in high. I myself don't have an eating disorder but I know people who do. It's great that people can be supportive of each other. - 8/25/2009   6:18:41 PM
  • 85
    This blog hit so close to home back when it was first published, that I bookmarked it to come back to! For me, the not eating and obsessive exercise of my teenage and college years seemed long gone as I have been clearly overweight as an adult. But the overeating and emotional eating I have done as an adult are just the flip side of the same coin! I still need to work on a healthy relationship with food and my body. Someday maybe I'll get it right! - 8/23/2009   10:07:45 PM
  • 84
    In my middle 40's, I feel, I'm very close to being in the best shape of my entire life. Never having children, I have not had the complication most women experience with the changing body structure. I did realize, after reading this article that I probably spent most of my life riding the cusp of an eating disorder: having no concern about nutritional value of food, eating only once daily with lots of Pepsi and chewy candy, but always keeping away from red-meat, fat and processed foods. I have never suffered any effects from my earlier eating habits...actually, I'm quite healthy, Thank God!
    I have been on a Vitamin regimen for a few years now and adhere to a diet rich in protein, fiber, fruit, and veggies. I pay particular attention to my intake of Omega 3, Calcium and Vitamin E and I keep my carb intake minimal as I don't want to wear that 'Menopot' (puffy belly) women my age get. I don't buy chewy candy or drink Pepsi any longer, and am very close to calling myself an ex-smoker...so now I can say I have "an eating order"! Thanks for the article! - 8/19/2009   10:30:36 PM
  • 83
    As I have got older I have become more confident in myself and with my body. I have gone from wearing all black in order to hide, to wearing colours. I'm happy to been seen now. Just an age thing.
    My body, my diet, my eating habits? They have changed over the years as I have learnt about what food is good or bad for one. I have never really dieted, just eaten badly, skipping meals and avoiding eating in social situations. I've never been overweight but watched members of my family struggle with their weight, go on yo-yo diets, loosing the pounds only to regain them when the diet ends.
    I realise that a diet is for life, that good eating habits need to be learnt and maintained.
    I am a binge eater, I have been since 11 or 12. I have gone through phases of purging. Now I have a few pounds to loose I hope to loose them by being healthy. I exercise now not to burn calories but because it feels great knowing that I am strong and fit.
    Funny but I am also a night time binger.I know that it's because I haven't eaten well during the day so I'm starving. I don't take the time needed to consider my meals I just feed my face.
    Who knows why the desire for there to be less of us than there is? - 7/31/2009   2:51:43 PM
  • REDPSTEVENS
    82
    Hi Ive read the over 80 some comments. Im not sure how I fit into all this other than I know Im extremely overweight and I need to loose it. From childhood I was always the one 20-30lbs bigger than my classmates. To embarrased to be a part of weighing programs for science projects. That was tramatizing to me. I always wished I could loose that weight but never was successful. I remember all my teenage life being part of weight watchers. When I became 20 I started having my family..Id gain, then loose..if I dieted Id loose 40 gain 60 and so on. I have been part of curves, been part of the ymca and pretty much tried every diet pill my entire life with the exception of when I was pregnant. One major thing I know I did wrong , (NOW) was that I never ate my meals, ever until 10 pm at night when it was quiet, had my family settled for the night and I could sit and enjoy my meal in peace, thats when I would eat. Then toddle off to bed with a full tummy. I have had 6 children and didnt loose the extra weight from the last 3 babies. Im one of the statistics that ate healthy (when I ate), exercised, recorded calories, but could never stop that weight gain as I grew older. Six years ago my husband passed away from Coronary Artery Disease at age 45. We didnt even know he had it. Then a few months later I became ill with chest pain and decided to get checked out as we ate the same things for many years.Sure enough I found out I have the desease too but not to the extreme he had. But I still suffered chest pain often, got hospitalized at least once a year. After learning this I new I needed to do something. It was after doing some research on a program on the internet that I realized that part of my problems were that I wasnt eating. I was just never hungry or to busy to sit and eat. I wanted to take care of everyone else first and take care of me last.I wasnt a binge eater, nor was I anorexic, I thought,,,seeing I was overweight. But I did realize I was starving my body and therefore thats why I had no metabolism. In a year I lost 65 lbs. by starting to eat. I had a hard time comprehending the reasoning behind this, cause if I wasnt eating much to start with and was majorly overweight, how the heck was I going to loose it by eating more...way more. It made me sick to even think I had to eat as much as the program told me to eat. But I did do as it asked and became healthy properly...not to my own standards of thinking. Five years lator I have kept that weight off but I will be damned if I can shake another pound...I am now on meds for my heart issue, blood pressure, colestorol,etc. and I know I desperately need to loose another 65lbs. I joined sparks some time ago and havent been successful because Ive given up the hopes of ever loosing anymore weight. I try and I try, Im tired, I have no ambition to exercise another step. I havent dedicated myself to this program on sparks that many seem to have succeeded at because I havent made the time for it. I have recently had my doctor assign me to a dietician in hopes that they could help but they told me my understanding of my eating habits are absolutely what I need, so the good thing is that I have continued to eat health, and still kept the 65lbs off that I lost...for that I am greatful. My prayer is that I will get the confidence to get past my loss of energy and discouragement. The thing I appreciated most of these spark letters is that there may be a reason for not loosing this weight, it could be my meds now. But most of all its ok to be who I am as long as I try to do my best again. I think perhaps, I need to increase my food intake somemore to see if perhaps I need to stretch my metabilism to a different level now. So I did get some ideas to work with as a result of these readings tonight. - 7/29/2009   11:23:26 PM
  • 81
    Geeze, I'm a senior, and I still feel the societal pressure to be thin. I will never have my 23-year old body back again , but being thinner would not do me any harm, physically or emotionally. - 7/29/2009   1:51:18 PM
  • 80
    I'm in my 40s, and I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life, thanks to SparkPeople; my life is stable and healthy. However, after losing weight, I felt like my life was narrowing down to an obsession with calorie-counting. I had been avoiding social gatherings because they were often fattening, and most of my friends are overweight and annoyed with my calorie-consciousness. I still had occasional episodes where I'd go on a binge and feel out of control and full of remorse. I went to a psychologist about it, and she said that one of the underlying causes of addiction is isolation, and she encouraged me to attend meditation, and to try to build community. I decided to become more active on SparkPeople because of the like-minded people, and to make more of an effort to see friends. Now I go to social events with the mindset that I'm spiritually feeding myself with the company of others, NOT for the food. It helps a lot to meditate (deliberately relax my body, especially my shoulders) so I don't talk and eat compulsively, which was often my habit at parties.

    I also tried to think of activities that gave me the same amount of pleasure as eating-- things that would actually draw me away from the dinner table because they are so FUN. As adults, we rarely allow ourselves to do things that are fun; eating becomes the only pleasurable thing we allow ourselves. So now, I write in my journal, read a FUN book, sew or knit, do a jigsaw puzzle, or hand-write a letter (which also helps cure isolation). I used to love sewing, but when free trade with China opened up, everything became so cheap that it wasn't worth it to make it yourself. Now I've decided that it's worth it, even if the project doesn't turn out well, because it gives me joy and anticipation, which before only came from food events.

    Also as I age, I think I'm competing against death. That's a big motivator for me to stay in tip-top condition, and probably a contributing factor to a lot of middle-aged people's disordered eating. I feel like it's now or never-- the final years of looking "hot". No wonder why "cougars" are now a social phenomenon. Hopefully, vanity will keep me in good shape for the rest of my life, but without the unhealthy obsession, isolation and negative feelings. - 7/28/2009   4:50:41 PM
  • 79
    It's hard to get treatment, especially if you don't fit the stereotyped mold. I've known I had an eating disorder since I was in my early 20s and I still have not been able to find treatment. They think because I'm fat that my problem is overeating; it's actually the opposite. I've been pressured so much and so often about eating less and exercising more that it's become an unhealthy obsession.

    SP is helping me realize I have to eat more calories than I have been (600-900 a day or less isn't unusual for me) and to not feel guilty about eating good foods, but food and I have real issues. I've been known to cry because I went ONE CALORIE over the set limit or didn't get all my nutrition goals within proper limits. I then exercise to the point of fall-down exhaustion trying to 'fix' it.

    The irony of this is, all the pressure to eat less and move more likely contributed to my obesity. I know I damaged my metabolism by doing this and believe me...fixing it is harder than breaking it.

    I'm still fat. That made it so much easier to slip by the radar. Heck, people would PRAISE me when I ate only a lettuce leaf or two for lunch and then exercised for two hours.

    I'm grateful to SP for teaching me that this was something I needed to break, but I really wish medical treatment was available. It wouldn't be such a struggle if it was...and I still have doctors and dieticians insisting that 600-900 calories can't possibly hurt and I should eat even less if possible --- because I'm fat.

    It does hurt. I have an eating disorder and the people who are supposed to be helping are actually enabling me. - 7/28/2009   3:45:39 PM
  • TAMALAMASLAMMA
    78
    Unfortunately, yes...I am fully aware of midlife eating disorders. I was hospitalized for a month a year ago for my eating disorder which has been with me, in one form or another, for the past 25 years. I'm now 37, and I currently am in outpatient ED treatment-meaning I see a nutritionist, a physician and a therapist once a week. Even after a year, I still have to consciously think about eating-no form of eating is normal to me-I question everything! Sad. I like to think I'm in fabulous shape-I do triathlons, bike races, runs, and I was a rollergirl for three years, despite the fact that I'm a Type 1 diabetic and have the ED. But then I ask myself "How good could you have been if only you hadn't abused (and continue abusing) yourself?" I know when I was in treatment, there were many people my age or older, so ED is not for tweens and teenagers only!!!! - 7/27/2009   11:18:17 PM
  • 77
    I lost one of my closest friends at the age of 59 because she had been anorexic since a young woman. No, I have never had an eating disorder, but I have never been able to control my weight - just gained constantly. And I did eat healthy foods. Ate about 600 calories in order to lose any weight.
    And yes, I am in my 70's and still "dieting". Finally, I have found the right way to lose weight and keep it off. Thank you, Spark People!!! - 7/27/2009   5:24:54 PM
  • LOVEMYPETS
    76
    Thank you for this great article! I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and wondering whether I still have some carry-over from bulimia in my 20's that never fully healed (I don't purge anymore, but like you, I've binged for many years. Looking back, it's amazing how a simple comment about my butt "looking big" when I was about 12 or 13 (while I was very petite and body-conscious), stayed with me all through adulthood. I was also raised in a very looks-oriented family with thinness being an absolute measure of beauty. All of that impacted me, but I don't want to place blame on an otherwise loving family. I know that I'm responsible for myelf and my own positive changes, and I'm on the road to recovery from all of that. But it is nice to know that there are many others out there in my age group who suffer from eating disorders, and that once we know what the disease is, we can begin our own "treatment". - 7/27/2009   1:48:14 PM
  • 75
    All my pressures come from remarks people have made to me as a child and teenager and young adult. - 7/26/2009   11:19:53 PM
  • 74
    I have to admit, I am healthier today than I have been in ages. I feel pretty fit, but I really want to get in shape. I just want to do it the right way and tone my body as I go. I did the same as ROYALETBONE. I looked at some picture where I remember thinking I was fat because I was so much bigger than all my friends. I was skinny in those pictures! When I got older, I looked at some pictures where I really was fat, but at the time, I didn't think I looked so bad. I guess you are never happy. I'm now trying to be the person in the middle of those two. Get fit and feel good about the curves - 7/26/2009   4:55:11 PM
  • EYEISONTHEPRIZE
    73
    You just described my plight. And you are absolutely right and called it what it is - an eating disorder. - 7/25/2009   4:59:44 PM
  • 72
    I certainly have had my problems with eating disoders. But it didn't start until after I'd been on spark for about a year. I never really had a problem with food until I found out the exact calories in, calories out formula. I don't think it has anything to do with being on Spark, but more so that I would just get tired of watching my food intake. I would want to go back to the time where every food choice wasn't a decision. It was just "ooh that sounds good, I'm going to eat it." And not, "wait, what are the calories? fat? protein? how will I feel before? during? after?"

    But right now my only problem is getting enough protein each day without going overboard on calories and carbs. And when I eat more calories and carbs than necessary I feel really guilty. But it's not easy to do when you don't eat meat, dislike eggs, and can only have limited dairy without extreme gastrointestinal discomfort. So planning my meals for the day has become kind of a pain! Tried protein powder and had even worse gastrointestinal pain.

    I just hate the way I feel now. I've lost almost 100 pounds and I feel worse than I did before I lost the weight. It makes me feel like a failure! - 7/25/2009   12:39:37 PM
  • CAROLEMP17
    71
    As someone who has been in recovery for an eating disorder, it's not about starving or bingeing to make yourself fit an ideal image, although it can certainly appear that way. It's about ways you have learned to cope with stress, or triggers in your life. And one way to cope is by controlling your appearance or your food; another is eating for comfort or release. Someone with an eating disorder does not just look in the mirror and say, "Oh, I don't look as thin as Teri Hatcher." and start bingeing or starving - although disappointment in one's image could be a trigger, it's not a cause. The cause is that you have learned to cope with uncomfortable feelings in these ways and that they have become an automatic response that is VERY difficult to change. Not impossible, but a LOT of work. Eating disorders are more complicated than an unhappiness with one's outward appearance. - 7/24/2009   5:07:11 PM
  • 70
    I'm 39 and have had binge eating disorder for as long as I can remember. When I was 9 or 10, for instance, I used to eat an entire loaf of bread when I got home from school ( I was a latch-key kid, and alone for several hours in the evening ). I would make cinamon toast out of it. When I was a teen I would eat entire tubs of frosting and would still want more. Also as a teen, in the mid-eighties when Dominos first started delivering pizza, I would take my allowance, order a pizza "to be delivered" and eat the whole thing.

    This type of binging without purging has come back to me over and over in my adulthood... I just delt with another bout of it over the last couple months. It made me gain about 10 pounds back (I'm at goal). Luckily, I've nipped it in the bud and begun loosing that 10 pounds. But the lack of controll that I've experience is very unnerving and I often feel very scared and sad about it since I've tried all the tricks to get myself out of a binge w/out success. It's as if my body takes over my mind and reason flies out the window. At one point during this last bout of binging my husband said something about how much I was eating, it took everything in me to ask him to please take me out of the kitchen 'cuz I physically couldn't stop myself from eating even though my stomach was bulging and hurting from all the food I had just consumed.

    Being older has not seemed to change my behavior towards food. I feel the same as I always did... I want to be healthfully thin. Happily I'm at goal and feeling very proud of myself... that may be why I've been able to stop the binging... but it did take me two months of fighting it off again. - 7/24/2009   4:41:08 PM
  • 69
    This issue is not new, regardless of age. Am I the only one that remembers the "pro ana" websites 10 years ago? Many ISP providers took them down after Oprah exposed them. If anyone is looking for more info on this, look at history and vomitoriums from the Roman Empire. Look at how the size of women deemed ideal as shrunk (Do most people realize that Marilyn Monroe was a 14 and 16 during her popular years and Teri Hatcher is a size 0?)

    One thing we all need to learn is that media is NOT a disemination. Media is a participation. The media makes stars smaller and smaller because we PURCHASE smaller folks on the covers. IF we all refuse to buy mag with women that are unhealthy, then they will stop producing them

    For an example, several years ago a mag. (Marie Claire, I believe) created two covers. One had the traditional unhealthy cover model and one with a regular, healthy sized model. The healthy cover outsold the other by three to one.

    Just some food for thought. - 7/24/2009   3:34:51 PM
  • 68
    Read "SHRINK YOURSELF" by ROGER GOULD, M.D. and learn how to deal with emotional eating. His book is the best on the subject. We have a SparkTeam here for support. - 7/24/2009   12:46:04 PM
  • 67
    I was very athletic in HS and never worried about my weight. After my husband passed away, I started eating for comfort. I definately had a problem but couldn't put a name to it. I've now lost 150 pounds eating healthy and exercising. I know I'll never be 125 again but I'm real happy where I am, half of what I used to weigh!
    I lost a whole person. Spark People keeps me on track. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for them. Thanks SP! This is an awesome, supportive community. - 7/24/2009   10:05:59 AM
  • LAURANCE
    66
    I'm hoppin' mad. Or glad that they're finally catching on.

    http://www.edcdenver.com/default.as
    p?page=50#bed


    I'm a compulsive overeater. But for some reason compulsive overeating was not considered an eating disorder until now. A "newly recognized condition"? It took them this long to figure it out?

    When I sought help back in the '90's from "eating disorder specialists" I was told that if I didn't have anorexia or bulemia, I didn't have an eating disorder. But I knew better!

    I wondered why. Is it that anexoric and bulemic women are attractive, young, vulnerable and waif-like girls who make men want to protect them; but fat, aging women in sweat pants are not sexy?

    I felt pretty angry and discouraged at what felt like invalidation.

    I'm trying once again to lose weight. Do I imagine that I will ever be young and beautiful? No way! I'm post-menopausal and long past bimbohood.

    I have nasty oseoarthritis in my knee, and I'd like to be healthier, that's all. - 7/24/2009   9:14:45 AM
  • 65
    I didn't really know that there was a trend for older people to be thin, but there are a whole lot of people of all ages who want to be just like their favorite star. I've never felt the pressure of being like somebody I didn't know, but when I was younger, I did feel that pressure of being like my friends. Now that I'm 51, I don't care what my friends look like or how I compare to them! And I doubt if I'll ever have the body I had when I was young, but I can have a great body for someone my age! By the way, I love your articles, Nancy! - 7/24/2009   8:41:23 AM
  • 64
    I have a friend in her eighties that is so afraid of getting fat that she eats very little.(they are sweets) She probably weighs 80+ pounds. My Mother who is close to eighty has suddenly become concerned about her weight....and has gone from size10 to size 6. She has never been heavy...it really concerns me that both of these ladies are going without nutrients that there body needs... to be skinny. And why at their age? When we know the body does not absorb nutrients as well as we get older. - 7/24/2009   12:29:02 AM
  • 63
    This article was definately an educational piece for me. It opened my eyes to more facts about a v ery serious topic that needs to be understood even better than it already is. - 7/23/2009   9:20:48 PM
  • 62
    No, I wasn't aware of this problem for this generation. I found this to be an interesting article, though. I no longer feel that I have to be as thin as I was in high school, but I'd like to be somewhat closer to that weight. I didn't have a problem with being over weight until later in life. Several things went on, and than I started packing the pounds on, too. - 7/23/2009   8:30:19 PM
  • 61
    I never had a weight problem or thought about food until during my second pregnancy (I was 28) when I simply couldn't seem to get full. I started worrying about how much weight I was gaining and felt out of control for the first time in my life. I waited until six months after giving birth to start dieting, but my life since then has been a roller coaster of gaining and losing. I would bounce from one diet to the next. You name it; I've probably been on it. At one point I was restricting myself to 800 calories per day. Then I got to the point where not eating felt good and I would play games with myself to see how little I could eat. I never got desperately thin, but at least I was no longer obese.

    Then at age 38, I went through a separation/divorce, and the tables turned. I ate for comfort and a whole host of other emotional reasons. If you'd asked at the time if I had an eating disorder, I would've said no. I just ate two out of three meals per day from a drive-thru window and snacked whenever I felt like it. I wasn't binge eating, or so I said. I had enough sense to know that what I was doing wasn't healthy, but I just didn't care. Over the next 15-20 years, I gained 100+ pounds.

    Only in the last couple of years have I even tried to diet again (and sensibly this time, I thought). I had some initial success, but this year my eating has started to get out out control. At first I wasn't eating junk; I tried to satisfy my cravings with large, LARGE quantities of healthy food, but my cravings for junk and fast food , which I had avoided for a couple of years, kept intensifying. Eventually, I started giving in, and once I did, I couldn't seem to stop. Recently, for the first time in several years, I allowed myself to have ice cream (the real kind). I sat down with a spoon and went through an entire half gallon (in two sittings). It wasn't even all that good.

    I think about food or dieting or exercise almost constantly. If you asked me now if I had an eating disorder, I'd say for certain. Maybe I've always had an unhealthy relationship with food at one extreme or another and it has just taken this long before I got really scared.

    I've read Cynthia Bulik's books, Runaway Eating and Crave, and recommend them. Runaway Eating especially addresses the issues of mid-life eating problems. At 58, I'm trying so hard to shirk the diet mentality, but it is the only cure-all I know. Right now I'm just scared - scared of regaining the 70 pounds I've lost, scared I'll never lose the rest of the weight I want to lose, scared that I'll never know what it's like to have a normal, healthy relationship with food.

    Obviously...from the length of my post...you can tell the blog today struck a nerve. Thanks for letting me speak my experience "out loud" somewhere. - 7/23/2009   6:15:40 PM
  • DAN_ODEA
    60
    I am (reasonably) comfortable with my body (except for the gut). I know at 50 I cannot have the same body I had at 25, and I certainly don't want the one I had at 20 (too skinny). Sure, some people (not my friends) call me on it, but as a friend says, "Do you suppose it would make a difference if I cared?" I've been ignoring my baldness since I was thirty, so why suddenly start caring about now? Same thing with my build. - 7/23/2009   5:54:39 PM
  • FREE_CAL
    59
    NO I was not aware of eating disorders in mid -life years. No I have no desire to be pencil thin or worry about being the same as when I was younger. I have been maintaining my current weight for 7 years now and am happy to not be putting any on. I try to lose some weight but due to stresses in life I am an emotional eater. That's life. - 7/23/2009   4:42:34 PM
  • 58
    I never had a eating disorder and usually didn't have a problem with my weight. When I did I exercised a lot to get the weight off. I have been taking pychotropic drugs which have made my weight come on. If I let myself go I will gain 5 lbs or more each year and maybe more if I don't watch what I eat. I try to eat healthy and exercise and try to lose the lbs. but I'm not going to beat myself up for not doing it. - 7/23/2009   4:24:25 PM
  • 57
    When I was in my mid twenties, I'd had my first child, and ended up with a little apron, with stretch marks. I started to skip with the skipping rope, and noticed the little apron was disappearing, so then I started really working out, and restricting my food seriously. I actually felt wonderful, and the thinner I got the better I liked it. In 3 months, I went from 125 pounds, to 88 pounds. I was all bone. When people asked me if I was sick, I thought to myself, "they are all jealous" I used to lie to my husband constantly about food and what I ate. Thank God, through will alone I came out of that. It did take me one year to get to 92 pounds. Obviously, due to lack of calcium, and good nutrition, I suffered wear and tear on my bones and joints. I had my left hip replaced at 47 years old, and am looking at a knee replacement in the next year. Both of my shoulders are in bad shape. Now I try my best to eat healthy, take my vitamins, and exercise moderately. Actually I need to lose weight now, but I am doing it properly. - 7/23/2009   3:51:42 PM
  • 56
    I suffer from an eating disorder, but not one that causes me to binge, or starve myself.
    I suffer from the one that I cannot seem to control my eating..I never feel full, I could eat constantly.
    I have tried listening to my body signals but they no longer work.

    I try to control it, but then it gets the best of me, and I lose control and just eat..there are times I have found myself thinking of purging, those thoughts have actually entered my mind on several occasions, I think that if I did I would feel a little less guilty about the disorder I already have..

    I am trying to get it under control, I am not sure how to go about it..mine comes from the trauma of being molested when I was younger, I found that if I ate I could make things better, even if for awhile, and I had the mindset that if I gained weight I would be unattractive and no longer be the victim of the abuse I was subjected too.

    I now know that what happen is not my fault, but I still suffer from the scars and the effect it had on me.
    My journey will be one that I will be fighting for a long time, but I hope to be able to beat it..
    One day at a time, that is what I tell the members on my teams..I not only preach it, I live it! - 7/23/2009   3:40:59 PM
  • 55
    I started suffering from bulemia when I was in my early 20's. For me it isn't about my weight completely. Thats what started it but then it became about control. Due to things from my past I found that I could control this one part of my life. It made me feel powerful to know I could do this and it was my secret. I know now that it is a disease that can cause so many bad things to happen to your body. I am now an LPN and have read up on all of the problems. It was then that I made the decision that I would need to make sure I got the help I needed. My husband has been my encouragement. He had been supportive and there has been times he has gotten frustrated with me because I will return to my old habit.
    With his help I have learned what my triggers are. I have learned that stress is one of the main triggers for me. I have learned that when I feel stressed, I can go for a walk or work in my garden for relief. My husband see's when I am stressed and will say lets go for a walk and talk. This keeps me from doing what I know will only hurt me in the end. I am stronger now and I am taking each day as it comes. I can't eat anything with lots of sugar or the guilt actually makes me start to gag. I eat more fruits and vegi's. I will defeat this disease because I am a fighter. I survived cervical cancer, and nursing school so this will be easy. Never give up hope and know that you are beautiful no matter what the scale says.

    Carrie - 7/23/2009   3:04:20 PM
  • 54
    I never really thought about it until I read this.....thank you for posting this! - 7/23/2009   2:49:39 PM
  • D-ANA00
    53
    Thank you Nancy for this article. I am very grateful for it and all articles put out on ed's. I keep saying over and over, I just wish more info was out there like this esp on the news. Most of it only seems to be about losing weight, or obesity stats, when there's so much more on both extremes going on out there. As far as the question from the article, I think it depends on the situation and when the onset of the problem actually was. Some may not develop one until age 50 or whatever; others may have had it since their 20's but kept it under the cover or hidden so to speak or until they got ready to get help, but didn't seek treatment until maybe 40 or something. In my case, I was 12 when mine first started, but no one seemed to notice or found out until I was almost 15.
    Everyone's comments each has their own insights. I appreciate PJOY17, your comment. I'm sorry for your loss; you really got me thinking though. I'm 28 now, and have been struggling over half my life with my health continuing to get worse. I'm married, but can't do much of anything. We have spoken and even if we adopt, we don't want to bring children in on our situation we deal with daily as a couple. I continue to fight, but some days it's really hard. I panicked today cuz I had to get my peg tube changed out and my anxiety was so high, cuz I thought it was going to make my stomach fatter. I truly want to get over this cuz I don't want to die thinking that fighting with anorexia and bulimia was all I did with my life.
    ~Peace, Love, & Healing 2all struggling~ - 7/23/2009   2:20:36 PM
  • 52
    At the ripe age of 17 I finally had it with my brothers teasing me about my hips. I decided to lose weight for my senior year. Unfortunately, it got out of hand....I ate very little and I exercised all the time. My mother being the astute woman she was got me help before it got out of hand. I struggled throughout my early adulthood with wanting to be thin. the only way I felt I could get a handle on this was to educate myself. I became a registered dietitian. I learned to eat and to exercise properly. During my career I had counselled many young women on eating disorders and referred them to mental health and individuals who were the subject matter experts. I have two masters....one in health and fitness management and a MPH in health education. Despite all this, there are still those nagging voices of my brothers telling me I have a big butt. Fortunately, I am strong enough to tell them to just go away. Do I feel I have a eating disorder? No. But I do, despite all my education, have the potential for one....in my mid fifties. - 7/23/2009   1:50:33 PM
  • KHALIA2
    51
    I was surprised to hear that this disorder was on the rise in women 50 and beyond. I guess I thought it was just a young peoples thing. I am happy to stay in my size 12 and not have to buy a whole new wardrobe. - 7/23/2009   1:32:48 PM
  • 50
    It's weird, I have thought before I'll just throw up what I just ate and I'll feel better. I've never even stepped into a bathroom after eating. I can't bring myself to throw up. I think that for just a few min. and the thought is gone. "Oh Dee you don't want to be one of those out of control women do you?" The answer is always NO! After reading this artical I just found out I'm one of those woman anyway. I binge eat all of the time. I'll eat until I feel sick, I'll eat when I'm not hungery. If my husband comes home and wants to eat I'll eat with him knowing full well I just ate a meal. Oh my God I have an eating disorder. - 7/23/2009   1:10:30 PM

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