Upcoming talk “Understanding Eating Disorders: Helping Your Child Develop a Healthy Body Image”

“Understanding Eating Disorders: Helping Your Child Develop a Healthy Body Image” with Dr. Pamela Carlton, MD

Thursday, March 26, 7:00 p.m. at La Entrada Middle School in Menlo Park

How can you help your child develop a healthy body image? Bombarded by media messages that equate weight/body image with attractiveness, both girls and boys may be at risk for developing an eating disorder. Young athletes are particularly susceptible to disordered eating and unrealistic body image.
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But, why don’t I look like that?

We all know that the pictures we see in magazines and catalogs are highly retouched.  However, when we are sitting there looking at those beautiful women and men in their work out clothes or swim suits it is easy to forget that and just start thinking, “Why don’t I look like that?”  Well, early last month we got a wonderful reminder that even the women and men in the catalogs do not look like those pictures we see of them.  We got to see an unretouched picture of Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio, “plus-size” model Crystal Renn, and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl Brooklyn Decker.  This was taken during a photo shoot for Glamour’s June issue.

Although, ultimately, I would like to see the media portray women’s bodies in a more realistic way.  I feel that having more and more exposure to photos like these is a start.

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When I tell people that my entire practice is working with people with eating disorders the response that I usually get is, “Why would you choose to do that?  Isn’t that depressing?”  I explain that absolutely, there are times when it is difficult and emotionally taxing.  However, the benefits outweigh the challenges 100 times over. Continue reading

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Let’s Give Ourselves Credit For The Steps We Take

I was speaking with a patient today and she explained to me that she is failing at “this recovery thing.”  When I asked what she meant she explained that she had binged and purged twice this week and she was still not able to get lunch in more than once a week.  We sat and discussed this for a while and looked at what she had done.  When she first started to see me, about 4 months ago, she was not eating anything between breakfast and dinner and then purging daily after dinner.  We then focused on all of her accomplishments: Continue reading

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You Don’t Look Like You Have an Eating Disorder

“You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.”  I can’t tell you how many times my patients have told me about people saying this to them.  One time that was the most startling was when I admitted a patient to the hospital because her heart was failing due to binging, caloric restriction and over-exercise.  As her body was shutting down from her eating disorder the nurse checking her into the hospital said those words, “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.”  So, this makes me wonder, what does someone with an eating disorder look like?  Continue reading

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Yoga Improves Body Satisfaction and the Feeling of Well Being

Many of us have heard of the benefits of yoga.  Regular practice can improve your strength and flexibility.  However, what we do not hear about as much are the mood and body-satisfaction benefits of yoga.  Recent studies have shown that yoga improves ones body image satisfaction and overall feeling of well being.  It also decreases stress, anxiety, depression, food preoccupation and eating disorder symptoms.  There are many different styles of yoga.  The one that was practiced in most of the studies was Iyengar yoga.

I frequently recommend yoga to my patients.  I have found it to be helpful in calming some of their body dissatisfaction and eating disordered thoughts.  Continue reading

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Our Health Care System Has To Change!

Our health care system is broken.  I know that it is no surprise to anyone to hear these words, but it is just hitting me hard today.  I saw one of my patients today who is a wonderful young woman desperately ill with an eating disorder.  She is in a dire medical state with severe malnutrition and beginning organ failure.  But, because she has no insurance all I can do is keep putting band-aids on her gushing wound.

I told her that I need to admit her to the hospital because her kidneys are not working.  Continue reading

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New TV Show Exploiting People With Eating Disorders

E! has taken reality television about a mile too far with their new show “What’s Eating You?”  This show follows several people with severe eating disorders.  I am not sure if I should say follows them or exploits them.  This show sensationalizes eating disorders and turns them into entertainment.  It does not educate the public about eating disorders in any meaningful way.  It is also very triggering to people suffering from eating disorders.  I have found several of my patients drawn to this show.  However, they report an increase in their eating disordered behaviors after watching it.  Continue reading

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Helping Your Teen Develop a Healthy Body Image

We have all heard that obesity is a serious problem in the United States.  We hear about it daily on TV, on the radio and in the newspaper.  However, what we need is not a battle against obesity.  We do not need a diet that cuts out fats and carbs in a frantic push towards thinness.  What we need is to learn moderation and how to have a healthy, realistic relationship with our bodies and food.  The truth is, there are medical risks at either extreme of the weight spectrum, but there’s a lot of room in the middle.

Continue reading

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