RSS Feed

Could Celiac Disease Cause Eating Disorders?

Celiac disease (CD) is a chronic autoimmune digestive disease in which the consumption of gluten leads to severe damage to the small intestine, interfering with the proper absorption of nutrients. This causes individuals  with the disease to suffer from a myriad of adverse health effects including bloating, weight-loss, malnutrition, pernicious anemia, unbearable abdominal pain, and even depression. Currently there is no way to treat CD other than following an incredibly strict gluten-free diet.  If a person with CD is not diagnosed and goes untreated or refuses to obey the scrupulous dietary laws, that person is at risk for developing serious conditions including lymphoma, osteoporosis, and life-altering neurological and psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia.

celiac-disease-img

But now there may be another medical condition caused by CD that does not only drastically decrease a person’s quality of life, but also kills 20% of its innocent victims. This condition is something that I am positive you guys all are very familiar with – it’s eating disorders.

Now I think you all know I have anorexia nervosa. That’s pretty obvious if you scan through some of my posts. But I don’t know if everyone who reads this blog is aware I was diagnosed with CD just months before I was finally clinically diagnosed with an eating disorder. Because I have both CD and an eating disorder, when I saw an article on a connection between the two  I was incredibly intrigued.  I mean for goodness sake, I may have just found the answer as to why irrational thoughts about food have been plaguing my mind since I was just  8 or 9 years of age!

So folks, I bet you are wondering what the evidence is that supports the claim that CD and eating disorders are connected. Well, in  two cities in Italy 100 untreated celiacs and 100 healthy controls between the ages of 18 to 60 participated in a study. In the study,  each participant were subjected a rigorous psychological assessment, seven comprehensive questionnaires designed to assess eating behaviors, and also had their BMI measured.  The results were absolutely astounding. The women in the study who suffered from celiac disease had significantly scores on their Eating Attitudes Test (16% were high enough to be considered pathological) as well as a higher drive for thinness.  There was also a marked difference in women of the celiac group’s level of social insecurity, perfectionism, and feelings of inadequacy. All of these concerning but intriguing findings point towards the potential for body image issues and problems with food intake.  What makes this study even more fascinating is the fact that the findings listed up above were only found in the women belonging to the celiac group. The men in the celiac group only had a difference in their interoceptive awareness.

So of course we still don’t have enough evidence to say that individuals with celiac, especially women, are at an increased risk for developing eating disorder. More reputable studies need to be carried out in order to confirm the link.  But you must admit that the results from the Italian study are beyond extraordinary.

 

Learn More About the Celiac & Eating Disorder Link!

A Heartless Comment Can Destroy a Life

I am sad to say that since the birth of the human race, cruelty has continued to rob people of  their laughter, of their smiles, and of their hope. There are folks who walk around rough neighborhoods with guns in their pockets, ready to destroy the life of another due to outrageous matters like drugs. There are ruthless husbands who seem to get a kick out of beating their wives.  And, there are wicked racists who live to see the blood of those who are not apart of their white Christian ideal.

All of these atrocious forms of cruelty share something in common – they all involve inflicting physical harm to their opponents. But there is another type of cruelty that doesn’t involve bullets, knives, or fists. Actually it involves a weapon that I believe is more deadly than each one of these combined – it’s words.

Words can either be tools to build someone up or pieces of artillery to crush someone’s soul.  Just yesterday, I was excited to create my second YouTube video in my new vlog series called Living with an Eating Disorder. As I started up my computer and got onto the internet, I noticed a notification from YouTube saying I received a new comment on my first video of the series. I felt a little rush of elation run through my veins. I love reading comments from my viewers and hearing about their fight with Ed. It not only makes me feel like I am not the only one in this seemingly endless battle, it also helps me keep fighting my eating disorder. I thought this comment would be just like the others and unfortunately, I decided to read it.

The comment said, “You’re obese”. Once I saw those two little words, I could feel my heart shatter like a piece of extraordinarily fragile glass and I felt a river of salty tears race down my shocked face.   My urge to self-harm, purge, compulsively exercise, and to restrict was stronger than ever. All I wanted was to stop fighting my eating disorder and allow him to take complete control of screwed up life.

I can’t describe in words how much I yearn to say I was able to fight through these potentially deadly compulsions, but I honestly didn’t.  Though I was able to keep myself from cutting my arms to shreds and purging the contents of my stomach, I now am much more concerned with my caloric intake. I am deliberately trying to eat less in hopes that I will lose just a few pounds in order to avoid being labeled as obese once again.

I am sorry you guys. I am so sorry.

Living with an Eating Disorder: How to Go to a Restaurant

Living with an eating disorder, like anorexia or bulimia, can be an every day struggle. That is why I decided to create a video series on coping with everyday situations when you have an eating disorder. In my first video in the series, I will be discussing my little trip to a restaurant and how I dealt with my terrible anxiety and fear of going out to eat. I hope this video gives you the tips you need to try to head on out to a restaurant or diner yourself :) !

To Exercise or Not to Exercise? That is the Question

Today the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave  is now a nation that saturated with a population suffering from a myriad of health problems.  Now that shouldn’t be so surprising considering the fact that more than 1/3 of the American population is obese.  Obesity – which is quite obviously an extraordinarily serious medical condition – puts an individual at risk for multiple diseases, many of which are life threatening. Some of these illnesses include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, reproductive problems,  sleep apnea, and even some types of cancer.   Of course there are many factors that come in to play when talking about the cause of our worrisome obesity epidemic. One of the reasons obesity has become so wide-spread across the globe is because western diets are chalked-full of highly-processed, sugar-stuffed pieces of crap we call food. But our horrifying diets our only part of the equation. The second part of the equation includes a little something we call exercise.

Exercise is something that seems to be completely foreign to us Westerners. I swear that a majority of our population thinks that walking for 30 seconds to get to our cars after gorging  Micky D’s Big Macs counts as exercise! I know, isn’t it just horrendous?!?!  So many people seem to be completely blind when it comes to discussing the benefits exercise has to offer. Not only does exercise aid in weight control and prevent an array of dangerous health conditions, it also helps boost your mood, raise your energy levels, and promote better sleep! Now who could argue with that?

But when it comes to eating disorders and exercise, things aren’t so cut and dry. For many people living with Ed, exercise is something that is done compulsively in order to purge calories and continue to lose drastic amounts of weight. Because exercise is so intertwined with eating disorder behaviors and body weight, many professionals who treat those suffering from an ED forbid patients from ever returning to normal exercise.

One of these so-called “eating disorder experts” is Dr. Julie O’Toole. She was once a general practice pediatrician who ended up creating the Kartini Clinic, an eating disorder treatment center for pediatric patients with EDs.   Dr. Julie O’Toole is a strong believer in forcing pediatric ED victims to remain totally abstinent from exercise.  Why?  Well, apparently because some other doctor said that if an ED patient returns to sports or exercise after treatment, they have a 50% relapse rate. 50% is obviously an extremely high and rather alarming rate, but I honestly believe that this number is inflated quite drastically. You see, O’Toole never cited the research on this particular statistic and she also admits this  in a comment she wrote after writing an article on exercise and anorexia on her blog.

What “eating disorder experts” like Dr. Julie O’Toole fail to recognize is that exercise is not the soul cause of  returning to eating disorder behaviors and that many factors come into play when a person relapses. I know that when I welcomed Ed back into my life, exercise did not cause it at all. Really the cause of my relapse was the lack of control I had in my external environment  and my feelings of discomfort with new post-treatment body. Another thing O’Toole does not take into account is the fact that there has been evidence proving that controlled exercise can be a positive intervention for those suffering from an eating disorder.  For example, at the Renfrew Center of Philadelphia (a residential eating disorder program) patients take part in multiple forms of  physical activity including yoga, pilates, resistance training, and conditioning.  What the Renfrew Center of Philadelphia found was that women who took part in exercise actually gained more weight and felt less driven to abuse exercise than anorexic patients who did not exercise. Still need some more evidence on the benefits of EDs and exercise? Well here’s a short list for you skeptics out there:

  •  Researchers in Belgium analyzed a total of eight randomized control studies looking at the benefits of physical therapy (which includes massage, aerobic exercise, yoga,  and body awareness therapy) and found that physical therapy greatly reduced eating disorder scores and depression in ED patients.
  • In the Adolescent Medicine department of Seattle Children’s Hospital, researchers took 50 girls and 4 boys with eating disorders and split them into two separate groups. One group received the standard “anti-exercise” treatment while the other group received standard treatment with 1 hour yoga classes that occurred semi-weekly. Patients in the group that participated in yoga ended up with decreased EDE scores and Food Preoccupation responses.
  • (p.s. you can check out the article here!)

Now this is not the only evidence linking exercise with improvements in eating disorder behaviors. There are much more out there and I encourage you to do even more research on your own!  It’s about time we spread the word about the benefits of exercise in eating disorder treatment!  we eating disorder patients deserve the best treatment possible and if we are not receiving therapy that includes exercise, we are not receiving the treatment we deserve!

The Vacation that Came Out of a Steven King Novel

Well folks, it has seemed like a long time since I have gotten the chance to sit down and tell you guys what has been going on in my complex little universe.  Get ready because we have LOTS of catching up to do.

Over the last week, my school has freed us student prisoners from its gloomy confines due to spring break. To celebrate this temporary but long awaited freedom, my family made plans to escape to the exciting city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a few days. Originally, the plan was that my mom and I would be the only people to go.  Not only would that be a splendid way to spend some good old fashioned quality time with my workaholic mom, it would also be MUCH less anxiety-provoking for me. You see, going on these little vacations are not easy for me and it causes a lot of debilitating anxiety. Why you ask? Well,  leaving home means I have to have some level of spontaneity and flexibility, both of which are pretty much nonexistent in me and cause me to turn into a distressed mess.  In order to control all this anxiety, I need to control the situation and it is a hell of a lot easier to control the situation when there is only one other person with me instead of three.  Unfortunately, despite my tireless efforts to try to convince my dad and little sister not to come, they wouldn’t budge. We ended up compromising and decided they would come a day after my mom and I went. That way, my mom and I could spend some time together and for at least one day, I wouldn’t be a nervous wreck.

The day I spent with my mom, I was calm and collected. I could control when and what we ate, where we visited, and when we rested. There were actually multiple moments during that day where I said to myself that this vacation really wouldn’t be all that bad. But then my dad and sister came and my anxiety morphed me into some uncontrollable monster.

Once they came, my ability to control my unfamiliar and frightening environment was taken from me. I was forced to eat at places and at times that were completely foreign to me.  Not surprising, I suffered from multiple panic attacks and fractious fits of rage. The vacation became honestly unbearable and I think everyone was relieved when it was finally time to check out of the hotel.

So folks, as you probably figured out by now, the vacation was the definition of a COMPLETE FAILURE. I know it was my inability to adapt that destroyed what could have been a marvelous time of family bonding, but I wish my parents made some attempts to make the trip easier. They could have planned out when and where we were going to eat and allowed me to look at the menu a few hours in advance so I knew what the hell I was going to consume once I got there!  Gosh, I wish I could describe in words how helpful that would have been for me!   Also, I would have greatly appreciated it if they comforted and reassured me a bit more instead of reprimanding me for my severe panic attacks. For god’s sake, don’t they understand that when I am having a panic attack I am scared and I require some reassurance?!??!?!? Is it really that hard?

Ok, well enough of my complaining. It’s time for me to get on with my last day of spring break and make an attempt to cherish it. I hope and pray you all are doing well and staying strong, whether you have an eating disorder or not.

 

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Just being admitted to one treatment center is extraordinarily expensive. Now imagine the outrageous expense for an individual who has been admitted to not one, not two, but 30 TREATMENT CENTERS.  That’s what happened to Rebecca Koch, a vibrant 18 year old whose mind has been ravaged by severe anorexia nervosa since she was a young girl.  The cost of all her medical expenses have overwhelmed her and her family and have ultimately resulted in them falling into a sea of dept. Fortunately, YOU can do something about this and help this wonderful young woman and her family.  Rebecca set up a gofundme account in order to collect donations. If you would like to help her and her family out, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/fundsforbecca  .

Thank you and I know Rebecca GREATLY appreciates your support!

becca

A picture of Rebecca when she was out of the hospital

e

Sometimes . . .

It is pictures that explain things better than words.

girlcryingalone

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 193 other followers