Tag Archives: eating disorders

Physiology Phriday: Your brain and your food

We all love certain kinds of foods and when we eat them, our pleasure quotients increase dramatically. Some recent work in brain imaging suggests that women with propensity for bulimia show “greater activation of key reward regions of the brain” after tasting a chocolate milkshake. These same individuals may also experience decreased activity in parts of the brain that control self-regulation and impulse control (as reported in the April 2009 Monitor on Psychology, pp. 48-49).

This area of research is new and so the results need replication plus interpretation. Does the brain function this way after years of bulimic behavior. Or, does the brain instigate or tempt such behavior (strong reward response plus increased impulsivity) with it’s prior functioning?

Of course, the individual struggling with bulimia cares only a little about the why. They really concern themselves with the what. How do I eat with moderation? How do I not eat for emotional reasons? Unlike alcoholics who can always avoid alcohol, everyone has to eat, and eat everyday.  So, what to do when your brain responds the way it does to food? Here’s a couple of practical ideas to start you down the right path:

1. Get a “coach” or counselor who you will be completely honest with. This coach will help you construct an eating schedule and an array of responses to eating or purging temptations.

2. Construct a realistic eating schedule that avoids avoiding food. Keep a food journal. Be honest. Keep troubleshooting with your coach until you find something that works best for you. Remember to check out your schedule (times and foods allowed) with a nutritionist.

3. Construct and use an array of behavioral responses to eating temptations. These include distractions, connections with others, ways to make the moment better, crisis call opportunities.

4. Develop mindful techniques to focus on eating, on stopping eating, on other forms of pleasure God has given you–even on the difficult emotions that you feel.

5. Identify controlling automatic thoughts and lies in your “script” that drive you in particular emotional and behavioral directions. These can be about your body image, about your relationships, etc. Begin responding to them with truth from God’s point of view. Make sure your coach and others know what truthes you are trying hard to believe.

6. As you recognize triggers, temptations, etc., also identify “ways of escape” offered you by God.

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Body image, eating disorders, and Thanksgiving

Just before most Americans binge tomorrow I want to post a couple of thoughts about the crazy, insane American way of dealing with food. We all should be thin with perfectly proportioned bodies and yet we want to indulge in our supersize me world. What do we end up with? Overweight adults and children who hate themselves for not being like the people they see on TV.

Consider a few statistics presented in a recent staff meeting. 9% of 9 year olds have used oral laxatives to lose weight. 40% of 9-10 year olds describe themselves as fat. 50% of middle school girls are on a diet (or have been recently) and also report feeling better about themselves because of it.

Want to do something about this crazy culture?

1. Eat healthy and enjoy food without making comments that others here (comments about weight, fat, who is eating too much or too little). Remember, God made food for your enjoyment.
2. Choose appropriate portions. Don’t skimp to send a message or to be prideful. Don’t overindulge just because you can and sit in judgment because you don’t like your shape.
3. Separate your value from your shape and looks.
4. If you have kids, show them (and discuss) some of the movies on this website by Dove which shows how much the beauty industry modifies photos to glamourize looks that are impossible even for the models: http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com/inside_campaign.asp
5. Remember to be thankful for God’s good gifts to you this year.

See you in a few days.

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