Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Eating Disorders: a big problem for men

I recently watched a man share a bit of his story and his battle with Binge Eating Disorder on ABC News.  It was refreshing and insightful to not only hear a male talk openly about having an eating disorder, but about an eating disorder that is often hid or misunderstood.

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in America.  It is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating, feeling out of control while binging, and feeling guilt and shame afterwards.  This binge occurs within a two hour period and the amount of food consumed is larger than a normal amount.  During this binge period, there is a feeling that one is out control and unable to stop.

During the video, this individual shared:  "With this disorder you can kid yourself.  I told myself I need to man up and be strong and get over it."  When struggling with this disorder, a person tends to feel simply lazy.  They believe they can pep talk their way out of the problem.  But repeated attempts and failure perpetuate a cycle of low self esteem and guilt.

As women, we often joke about "eating our feelings."  When we are sad, we eat ice cream or chocolate to console ourselves (it is important to note that this is different than BED, because this binging happens regularly, not just once in a while in response to a difficult event).  It is often assumed and accepted in our society that women will do this as a way to cope.  But rarely do we hear men talk about their use of food to help them with emotions.  Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that men don't discuss emotions much in the first place, but regardless, BED is still a problem for men just as much as it is with women.

Ron, the man in the video said,   "I didn't want to go see a therapist because that meant I was a nut."  There is a stigma for men to voluntarily attend therapy.  And while he later states that he eventually went to therapy and it should have been the first place he went, he started somewhere, and that was, he began to read books.  He found that he identified himself with what he was reading about and then decided that he should do something about it.

It can be difficult for men to get help with eating disorders because there is a stigma that it is a female problem.  A male struggling with an eating disorder feels different and alone.  Ron said, "I thought I was alone, the only person that did what I did."

To watch the video, click  HERE

Friday, April 25, 2014

Regaining Control

I happen to have a bossy little 4 year old (almost 5 year old).  She senses weakness and pounces.  When I am not at my best, feeling sick, or tired, or just sad, she quickly rushes in to take control.  And that is usually not a good thing, because, well, she's four.  Before I know it, I find that she seems to be running the show.  Sometimes that is her destroying the house, sometimes it is talking back, sometimes its whining.  Again, generally not good.

It's amazing how quickly we can feel like we've lost control as parents.  It can make us feel like we are at the whim of our kids' moods and behaviors.  Sometimes this pattern goes on for so long that we feel like it has become the norm.  We think to ourselves, "Oh that's just kids."  But it doesn't have to be that way.  We can, in fact, be more in control that we realize.

I recently wrote an article in a local newspaper about how we can do this as parents. . .

It can be as simple as stated in the article, but because we are tired and stressed, we make it more complicated that it needs to be.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Empowering Women

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I participate in viewing what we call General Conference twice a year.  This consists of four 2 hour meetings, where leaders from the church speak on topics that affect the lives of all those around the world. It is uplifting and inspiring, and I love taking some time to focus on what these great men and women feel inspired to share.  It makes me reflect upon my own life; its a great opportunity to take inventory of what I personally need to work on, spiritually and otherwise.  However, in the LDS church, there has been some controversy over women's issues.  There have been some peaceful demonstrations at the Conference Center (where General Conference is held) over these issues.  I am personally a big advocate of women working to increase their role of equality in the world, and so some of this controversy causes me to reflect upon what I do believe and how I view things.  I don't have a strong opinion on women's issues as it relates to the LDS church, but I do believe that as a whole, women need to learn how to be an advocate for themselves.  I think women have special gifts in their ability to nurture, to love, to serve, and to establish and maintain relationships.  And I believe that this is a gift from God.  But I also believe that often we can become too comfortable with taking care of others in this nurturing capacity that we lose sight of what it means to take care of ourselves.

In graduate school, while studying feminist multicultural therapy, I remember a professor reading a quote: "A man who ambitious is considered successful.  A woman who is ambitious is considered a bitch."  While its easy to dismiss this quote because it's a bit egregious, I remember hearing it for the first time and taking some time to consider it.  Often, this is how gender roles are viewed in the world.   In the times in my life where I have been ambitious and aggressive, I have felt that many viewed me as overstepping my grounds as a woman.  And on the other side of the scale, women who are ambitious in areas such as homemaking and raising children are not considered ambitious at all.  

Regardless of how we choose to spend our energy or time, it is important that we understand that in order to help others, to work hard, we must first take care of ourselves.  And that ironically, when we take the time to figure out what we need, then we are better able to give.  It is a topic that comes up daily in counseling with women.This requires self awareness, confidence, and then courage to advocate for ourselves.  

Here is a snippet of an article that reminded of me this important concept.

Friday, April 4, 2014


My sister brought the acronym FOMO to our family's attention a few years ago. For those of you that haven't heard the phrase, FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out.  My sister brought it to our family's attention because it is something most of us struggle with.  It has become somewhat comical, when we hear that one of us is going on a vacation, gradually most of us begin to invite ourselves.  Going to bed is generally a problem, because of the fun/great conversation that could possibly take place (and often doesn't!).  But I don't want to blame it all on my family.  In my own personal life, I have some pretty bad FOMO.  It forces me to make some pretty bad decisions at times.  I, also, am guilty of noticing creative, fun, adventurous things that other people are doing (usually via social media) and feel the desire/need to do them as well.  All part of FOMO.  

I love this article because it explains a little bit more of why someone has FOMO and some things to help deal with it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Bad Mood

We often blame our grumpy behaviors on being in a "bad mood," as if it is some kind of virus that we are powerless over. But let's face it, a "bad mood" really is an excuse. This article outlines three ideas of why we're in a bad mood. I would argue that there are more than three, but it's a good start.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to tell if your child has anxiety

I regularly write articles for a local newspaper, and this was one of my first.  Anxiety is one of the most common problems that I see individuals for, particularly adolescents and children.  We all have kids who exhibit fears or extreme reactions to certain situations.  When my first daughter was 18 months to 2 years old, she seemed to be afraid to be afraid of everything: cars, helicopters, bugs, monkeys in her closet.  You name it.  If she heard a loud noise, she would cry and run over to me.  This ended up being a phase, but often, these fears and reactions remain perpetual.  So is it a full- fledged anxiety disorder?