An interesting admittance – It’s never too late to say sorry

You might have seen this story in the news recently. On the surface, it’s ‘one in the eye’ for the diet industry, the huge corporate congolmerate that makes money out of people feeling miserable about themselves and aesthetically inadequate, peddling questionable ‘health regimes’ with dubious claims. However I think it’s much, much deeper than that.

Iris Higgins, a psychologist with a Masters from New York University, is an expert in hypnotherapy and coaching to overcome disordered eating, and a woman championing healthy eating and self-esteem. Her blog, Your Fairy Angel, aims to instill confidence in women and also offer tips, tricks and recipes to enrich life and restore a focus onto overall health and vitality and away from harmful fads and destructive diets. Last week, she published a remarkable post on her blog, entitled ‘An Open Apology to All My Weight Loss Clients’. Almost unbelievably, her former employment was in fact under popular American diet company Jenny Craig. Now, given her new public stance on all things dietary and healthy (both mentally and physically), she has taken the drastic step to publicly apologise to each and every one of the women she was involved with through Jenny Craig over the years.

In an incredibly revealing, yet not particularly surprising, expose, she laments the fact that many women walked into those meetings healthy and happy, and ‘left with disordered eating, disordered body image and the feeling that you were a failure.’ So incredibly sad, but also true.

Many companies that make money from aesthetics operate on blowing open the beliefs that are usually already brewing at the back of your mind, creating issues and imperfections that do no exist, therefore compelling you to ‘fix them’. Another reason why I am so opposed to these organisations – and here we have proof.

She goes on to detail how as a Jenny Craig consultant she ignored serious mental health issues such as BDs and EDs, She gave bad (and potentially dangerous) advice to those with health concerns such as thyroid problems, diabetes and even pregnancy. Importantly she notes the harsh calorie limits placed on female clients, who despite part-taking in considerable amounts of exercise were encouraged to eat 1,500 calories a day.

She admits that whilst working there she did not believe in what she was doing and would not have touched the diet herself.

Some of the cynics among us (myself included) may say, What an Incredible U-Turn. 3 years is long enough to make money out of something you believe to be wrong. In addition, this lady is also now presenting herself as a health guru, and making money from the royalties of various healthy cookbooks and articles on positive body image and disordered eating. Whatever the motive, it’s commendable that she want to help others. But I can’t help thinking that for the rest of us, who have been on the receiving end of issues cultivated by the likes of Jenny Craig, and who have always shunned this toxic sort of ‘self improvement’, the whole thing is a little hollow. More importantly, the damage has unfortunately already been done for all those women she influenced during her time with Jenny Craig.

What are your thoughts on this one?

iris

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A Tragic Warning – Slimming Pills

You may have already heard this story in the news over the past few weeks, highlighting the dangers of taking pills to lose weight. Increasingly, busy women are looking for a ‘quick fix’ to lose weight, unsatisfied with their appearance. Unfortunately I am a strong believer in ‘too good to be true’. Guys, the only way to be healthy is to eat well and be active. We all know that. But sometimes, our judgement is clouded and we are so unhappy that we will turn to dangerous alternatives just to reach our goal.

23 year old Student Doctor Sarah Houston had so much ahead of her. She had travelled the world, helping those less fortunate than herself and now wanted to do the same at home.

Sarah had been taking DNP, an industrial Pesticide which speeds up the metabolism resulting in the fast burning of fat. She had been using it up until her death for 18 months, before she accidentally took a fatal overdose. DNP is sold over the internet and is described as ‘extremely dangerous’ by doctors. It causes the body to overheat and eventually causes a massive heart attack. The dosage is so sensitive that there is a very fine line between taking the drug to lose weight and overdosing.

Even more tragically, Sarah is not the only person to have died from taking DNP or other harmful ‘slimming pills’. Doctors, parents and the coroner involved in Sarah’s case are all now joining a campaign to raise awareness about DNP and other dangerous slimming medicines.

This story made me so sad, because it could have happened to any of us. Desperate to look ‘better’, we will overlook and sometimes completely ignore what we are doing to our bodies, unaware of the serious consequences involved, or feeling that they are a necessary price to pay for looking ‘good’. And perhaps more poignantly, the latest victims of DNP have all suffered Eating Disorders in the past. For me, this again highlights the need to treat those with ED’s properly and safe-guard them against future behaviour which can prove as fatal as Anorexia or Bulimia. Sarah was having treatment for Bulimia for 3 years and was also on Anti-Depressants. Clearly neither of these had been effective – why was this not noticed? Personally I am angry that Sarah’s more deep-seated issues appear to have been ignored, only for them to manifest themselves in another way and ultimately cause her untimely death.

Please, never ever take anything to lose weight. If you are unhappy with your weight, talk about it and seek medical help if you feel something needs to be done about it. Please don’t take matters into your own hands, however desperate you feel.

Sarah Houston

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When Does Disordered Eating Become an Eating Disorder?

How many times have you heard someone call another person ‘Anorexic’, with little substance or evidence to do so other than the fact that they are thin? Partly due to ignorance, the word ‘Anorexic’ has wrongly become an adjective for use on anybody who skips their breakfast, has lost weight, or is naturally skinny. Sadly a lot of girls embark on fad diets or develop food-related foibles which can understandably cause concern amongst friends and family members. But when should we really be concerned? Disordered Eating, although not an Eating Disorder, can be harmful mentally and physically. However it doesn’t pose a definite threat to life, it’s just an unhealthy lifestyle choice. Disordered Eating is a wide umbrella which can include anything from skipping breakfast (how many people do that?!) to saving your daily calories to ‘spend’ on a night out (believe it or not this is a fairly popular phenomenon). This treatment of calories as some sort of currency, and a heavy emphasis on counting them forces us to become obsessed and neglect the bigger picture.

I am asked regularly by worried relatives if the behaviour of their loved one is something serious or just a phase. There are some key things to look out for in someone with an ED; the list on B-Eat is a fairly comprehensive guide.

My advice is, whatever you do, treat Disordered Eating with caution. Especially if the person in question is young. If you find them being secretive or aggressive over food, excessively cutting their food intake or over-exercising, then please take them to the doctor. As I expand on in further posts, an ED is very much like a stroke in that it’s best to battle the fire at its lowest ember than leaving it to destroy more and more of your loved one.

I will be posting more on this subject – so please do let me know if there is any particular guidance or information you would be interested in hearing about.

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When does disordered eating become an eating disorder?

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‘Diet’ – A Dirty Word

I really dislike the word ‘diet’. Instantly, it has negative connotations – what is the first thing that pops into your mind when someone says diet? Hunger, eating vegetables, being miserable in order to ‘look good’. A diet also suggests something temporary. They go against common sense; they encourage you to be unkind and damaging to your body in order to achieve a short term goal.

Yes, some diets are effective in helping people lose weight. But at what cost? Rarely is the weight loss sustainable; as human beings can’t live properly in a malnourished state for very long. Yo-yo dieting is on the increase because of this, a vicious cycle of losing the weight, putting it on, losing it again. This can lead to various long-term illnesses, digestive problems and hormonal imbalances. The emphasis is all wrong – and there is no focus in any media on being fit, strong and healthy.

After joining the gym I have gained 10lbs. My measurements are exactly the same, if not a little smaller. But I feel physically better than I ever have done before – mentally too. Laying store by a number on a scale does nobody any good. How many diets focus on how you feel? Not many? How many instead focus on what you have to lose? Lose 3lbs, 5lbs, 10lbs in 2 weeks. The unfortunate truth is, you may lose a lot more than pounds.

I’m posting links and articles with notes on wholesome, nutritious food and recipes. Feel free to contribute! Share your success stories!

Rose xx

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