Weighty Matters

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Mid-Life Eating Disorders

on August 6, 2013

I don’t how many of you who come here are age 50 or older, but if you are, there’s an interesting article in the latest AARP Magazine about eating disorders and how they affect a significant number of women over 50.  It offers fairly basic information, or maybe it just seems basic to me because I’ve lived with one for so long, but there are a lot more things in it that make it a useful read for women of any age whether we know a little or a lot about eating disorders.  One thing that I never thought of is that some women who didn’t have eating disorders when they were younger can develop eating disorders when they’re older.

There’s also been a study done that found that 13 percent of American women age 50 or older experience symptoms of an eating disorder.  60 percent of the women in the study reported that concerns about their weight and shape negatively affect their lives.  70 percent were currently trying to lose weight.  There also might be a connection between menopause and the development of new eating disorders or the reemergence of old ones.

The article poses five questions and says that if you answer yes to two or more, you should speak with your doctor to see if you might have an eating disorder.  Given that there are a number of different eating disorders, it must have been hard to identify five questions that could indicate signs.  Here they are:

  1. Do you make yourself vomit because you feel uncomfortably full?
  2. Do you worry you have lost control over how much you eat?
  3. Have you lost more than 14 pounds in a three-month period?
  4. Do you believe yourself to be fat when others think you are too thin?
  5. Would you say that thinking about food dominates your life?

For the record, if I’d been asked these questions 25 or so years ago, I would have answered yes to 2, 3 and 5.  I think 3 indicates a sign of possible anorexia.  I was never anorexic, but because I would crash diet, losing 14 pounds in two months wasn’t out of the question.

Overall, I’m really glad that this article appeared.  I think there are probably a lot more women who have some degree of an eating disorder but don’t realize it.   Reading this article and processing the information may provide some light bulb moments.  Understanding and exploring an eating disorder can relieve a lot of shame, embarrassment, self-loathing, and general all around crappy self-esteem.  For me, discovering that I had an eating disorder meant that I really wasn’t just a weak-willed, gorging pig with no self-control.  Emotional balance is vitally important in order to achieve any long term success.

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3 responses to “Mid-Life Eating Disorders

  1. Hope says:

    I wonder if some of it has to do with the loss of control that a lot of people start to feel as they age? It also might have to do with the drop-off in metabolism that we all get to deal with as we get older.

  2. Skye says:

    I’m glad you discovered you had an eating disorder so you could stop feeling so terribly about yourself. Sometimes knowing that you have an illness or disorder can be such a help; being validated that you aren’t lazy or weak-willed or just imagining things or whatever can help build those first steps toward health. I hope that article helped a lot of women (and men) out there who have eating disorders. I look forward to when “invisible” diseases no longer have stigma attached to them, so everyone can acknowledge without judging.

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