Safeguarding Our Girls by Helping Them Have a Healthy Body Image

I offer hope, faith, charity in the form of compassion when working with Moms, Dads and their daughters struggling with an eating disorder at the beginning and throughout treatment. For 37 years I have experienced families in so much pain, anguish, so befuddled as to what direction to take with their daughter. Anxiety and anger runs the gamut, usually severely ramped up. I often see a daughter’s ED as measurement of the barometer of the family.

With anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, what starts as a simple, “diet” or sneaking food, gets ramped up, often times preceded by a breakup, a serious disappointment, family strife, a life trauma and more. Most are unaware of feeling guilt riddled and cope with self sacrificing behavior while swallowing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. The ED moves to a reliable dependable “go to” symptom, a coping skill, that both self soothes and begins to develop a life of its own.

Restricting, starvation, binging/purging, binging. All coping skills, perhaps the best adaptive solution at the time, none the less, becomes highly addictive and begins to unmercifully take charge. Neuro-brain research has measured a release of dopamine that further reinforces one’s desperate attempts to cope with high levels of anxiety, rage and depression.

One recovered client of mine a gal in her late 20’s referred to ED as “screamy mimi.” When asked to draw a picture, S.M. was a skinny creature, hair standing up, with arms choking my client. S.M. had many snarky belittling remarks about her size, appearance, what she could and could not eat and was in total control of her every move. Carolyn Costin calls that part of self, “the unhealthy self.” Negative bullying self critical remarks voice themselves loud and clear, drowning out reasonable rational wise minded voices. The work, to strengthen the intuitive wise old soulful side, voices filled with forgiveness, blessings, self acceptance and love of Self.

Another mid life client calls those voices, “the blob.” She describes a “darkness, raging voices that tell her she’s “fat, useless, no point in trying to control my binges.” It kicks me to the curb and slams the door.” She’s been struggling with undiagnosed BED since her teen years.

S.M. was slowly neutralized, tamed with love and practicing mindful self care mantras during daily meditations. The “blob” has been tempered on and off with a well spring, a fountain of water within, guided visualization, positive self affirmations and a light that’s accessible under that slammed door.

Women in particular have a hard time with sustained self care which I believe is rooted in feelings of low self worth, not feeling that “I matter.”

I love it when I hear Moms and Dads affirming their daughters. It brightens my moments. In order for our daughters to be the jewels, the pearls that they are, being esteemed by their parents, their seeing the gleam in their eyes of pride, makes all the world of a difference in their relationship with themselves.

For my mid-life gals, it’s about learning how to esteem themselves, taking the time to tell themselves in word and in deed that they are So Worth It to take the time to deeply Self Care. To take a bite out of life, rather than the other way around is our goal.

Mindfulness, Gratitude, Counting our blessings, not taking us or our life for granted, making the most of every day, finding our Purpose, our Passions, Our gifts, Why we are here, is the essence of moving to a life without ED.