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Thank you for visiting my thoughts and ideas site. If you want to speak directly or have my thoughts on something that is important to you email me at admin@ncfed.com

Monday, 8 June 2015

Fat Camps For Obese Children

Mother is asking us to pay for her obese child to go to a Fat Camp, run by Professor Paul Gately.

The child is blaming the mother for making her fat, perhaps the child is right and perhaps it is just bad luck. There are many reasons why a child is fat. But looking at the mum the child might be right, mum looks like she needs help as well.

There are thousands of obese children out there, who have obese parents who haven't taken a look at  their own relationship with food. Nothing will change unless everything changes in the family.

If you know someone in the NHS who has anything to do with this family, get them to have a word with me. I can give them some advice.

Changing a weight problem in the family is long term, it is an enormous ask, it takes a village to heal a child and her parents, not just a fat camp.  Perhaps I should write a longer article about how to help overweight children on our website, its sorely needed. But fat camps have to be the last resort.

see my blog on http://www.eating-disorders.org.uk

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Overeating As Addiction

I have spent some lively hours debating with others on the Facething whether compulsive eating is an addiction; which asks for some reflection on the nature of the term "compulsive".

Then I did two BBC Radio stints on overeating, debating with two people who were relying on Overeaters Anonymous to help with their food addiction. It seemed that both participants had become "addicted" to eating as a way of dealing with different forms of loneliness, at different times in their lives.

There are not many eating disorder experts who buy into the notion that compulsive eating is an addiction although they agree the following;

1   You can sort of become addicted to sugar because it affects the same parts of the brain as the other suspects like drugs and alcohol.

2    Eating disorders share some features with addictions.

3 People who overeat speak in the language of addictions. "I can't carry on with my day until I have had my fix... I can't stop at one.... I can't stop when I have had enough".

On our website blog I have made a very short case in favour of not leaping to the conclusion that overeating, even quite horrible variants of it, is addiction. It doesn't help our patients to consider themselves addicts. There are lots of reasons for overeating, even the most compulsive forms. We can free people from their destructive relationships with food without you needing all the paraphernalia of overeating fellowships like group meetings, endless talking about food,  sponsors and a lifetime of thinking of your self  as "In Recovery".  Thousands of us used to overeat and  don't now. We are not "In Recovery."  We can help you to stop.

 Check out   http://eating-disorders.org.uk/emotional-eating-addiction/ 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Severe And Enduring Anorexia

I had a very anguished time this week writing to the mother of a young child who has been refusing food and water for quite a while. Obviously the child is on a section and has spent months on a feeding tube. There has been some progress and this is quickly followed by setbacks. The child says that she does not want to live with mum for reasons we cannot understand, but there is nowhere else to go. The mother is now shattered with the strain of it all and has broken down.

I have decided to write something for parents and carers whose loved ones have a severe and enduring eating disorder. There is a lot out there telling parents what to do, what kind of caring to offer, and how to speak to someone who clearly hates herself, himself and probably everybody else. When a loved one is lying passive on a hospital bed, and when we cant get through to them, how do we really reach out to help their carers.

So I have written a guide and I will publish it on our website when I have had a chance to get some ideas from all the other lovely members of our Network. Basically what I have to say is this. Recovery from a severe and enduring eating problem is an existential struggle that may take a very long time to resolve if it ever will.  A therapist will only reach down to the pain inside the anorexia when the patient is ready, but when will that be?  We must always love the sufferer but we also have to live and help other members of the family to connect to what is good in life.

This may involve changing something in ourselves rather than expecting someone else to change. What are our own black holes and deficits?  What do we need to grow as human beings?  We need to pay heed to these and let our loved ones see that we are also accepting change.  Then by the grace of secret communication they will learn that they aren't the only ones who need to be fixed. And we have to hope that this understanding will help them to be healed in the fullness of time; hope without expectation and a willingness to be very, very patient.

Look for my article in the Carers section of our website www.eating-disorders.org.uk anytime soon.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Obesity As Disability

I also can't let this pass without comment and please excuse the f (fat) word.

In Northern Ireland and also in Europe,  Obesity is now qualified as a disability and our counsellors are having some thoughts about that. With obesity levels now running at over 50% of our population are we all going to be happy if obese persons apply for disability benefit putting pressure on things like

Care for senior citizens,
The provision of nursery places,
Help in hospices for the aged ill -  thus freeing up much-needed beds in our beleaguered hospitals

While I would give every bone in my body to help someone with a weight issue, and I deplore fat -teasing and bullying, I can't muster any enthusiasm for this crazy decision.

As one of my counsellors put it...with rights come responsibilities. If someone is too fat to work / has problems controlling food, perhaps they might seek informed help from an obesity or eating disorder specialist. Go see a doctor and ask for psychological help. This with the proviso that benefits might become available when they can demonstrate that they have taken some steps to deal with the problem.

Watch this space for more.

Anorexia Porn: The Good, Bad And Ugly.

During the last 6 months I have read 3 manuscripts of anorexic suffering written by people who have partially recovered and 4 books about anorexic suffering which have actually found a publisher.

Our staff here at the National Centre for Eating Disorders,  who know about a lot about eating disorders,  have also read these works (no confidentiality requested) and we have all ended up dismayed and overwhelmed by the grisly details of what people have done and thought as a result of their illness often for years on end.

We have Post Traumatic Anorexia Disorder for which the cure is rest, compassion for ourselves and others, and taking care of ourselves.

But as we move in to eating disorders awareness week must ask for whom is this useful, for Sufferers?  The Public?  Therapists?  No one?

You may know me by now, I say what I think and I don't play the party line. If you really want to know about the good, the bad and the ugly anorexia porn,  check out what I have written on  our website blog (I don't want to write it twice). The bad anorexia porn might be a reality star posting bony pictures of herself on Instagram.

But are these accounts any better? If you want to know what I really find valuable, follow this link.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Anorexia And Auschwitz: A Cry From A Specialist

I cannot let the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz pass without mentioning it in my eating disorder post.

To honour the suffering of those who endured torture, starvation and murder in the concentration camps, I bring myself to watch the film records and listen to the individual stories of heinous crimes, sometimes the small individual torments impacted on me more than the gross depictions of the crimes of Nazi Germany.

When people describe hunger that was so unimaginably painful, I think of my anorexic patients whose starvation is arguably - "self imposed", and I quail.

Self Imposed I hear you say!  Well, I've read many, many accounts of anorexia and I have ministered with compassion to many of anorexia's prisoners, and a lot of you are going to say OF COURSE it's not self imposed, it is a mental illness. But it is self imposed, because the self has been imprisoned by the anorexic Voice, in the same way as the selfhood of the concentration camp victims was imprisoned by their captors. The Voice captured me for a short while many moons ago, until I made my great escape.

So when I see the hollow eyes of the inmates of Auschwitz, Belsen and all the other Hells, I think of my anorexic people. But the weeping of a starving man in Auschwitz, caught for just a moment on camera has rent my soul.

What has become of us in this free and wealthy age where people willingly, proudly and insistently starve themselves into skeletons. People with anorexia do lie, do cheat, pretend that they are allergic, evade and often uncaringly torment their loved ones who just wish to see them live. It's what the illness is about.

So how can I, an eating disorder specialist, come to terms with the willing, compulsive starvation of my unhappy clients while my heart and soul is full of the starvation and suffering of a generation of innocent men, women and children. I sigh, I sigh and sigh; I bring myself back to my work, haul in my compassion and carry on.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Emma Woolf Letting Go Like Elsa In Frozen?

Letting Go: How to Heal Your Hurt, Love Your Body and Transform Your Life.

A new memoir of recovery from the girl who wrote An Apple A Day a century ago. Emma does what we therapists find hard to put into words, finding recovery not just in weight gain but in healing the mind, body, heart and soul of someone who has been caught in the claws of an eating disorder. As one of my patients put it, Letting Go, is like restoration of a stately home.

Can it help someone who is still sick and listening to the unforgiving anorexic Voice?  Perhaps it can. I hope it can. You can see a short review on our website http://eating-disorders.org.uk/emma-woolf-lets-go-and-heals/

but better still, read this book, a gift for therapists and patients alike.