and Weight Issues
Fat is still a feminist issue. However, while it is true that being overweight is symptomatic of how our society treats women—and no woman should ever be maligned because she is overweight—it is also true that a healthy body is generally able to gravitate to a comfortable and healthy weight.
Problems around food can stem from primarily psychological or physiological causes, although there is certainly an overlap. The solar plexus contains mood-
The Standard American Diet (SAD) of refined carbohydrates, sugars, chemicals, and processed foods (such as luncheon meats and artificially hydrogenated oils) directly contributes to eating disorders. One does not have to visit a Third World country in the midst of famine to view the effects of malnutrition. The lack of proper nutrients is a major contributor to immune dysfunction and chronic, degenerative diseases right here in America. Overweight people, and those with eating disorders, are desperately in need of a healthy balanced diet. Despite appearances, a fat person is literally starving.
Eating disorders as they are defined initially stem from a distinctly emotional cause. A woman with anorexia fears gaining weight, so she scarcely eats—even though she might be as thin as a toothpick. The pop singer Karen Carpenter died of anorexia. She starved to death because she was malnourished. Someone with bulimia will gorge herself on food, then make herself throw up before the food is digested so she won’t get fat. However, there is also a biochemical component to bulimia. Vomiting causes the brain to secrete endorphins, the "feel-
From a psychological standpoint, the fear of being too fat is distinctly related to being female in this culture. Recent studies show that by fourth grade, about one-
It is common for girls who are sexually abused to develop eating disorders. One woman I knew who as a child was forced to perform fellatio on her father, grew up with food issues. She particularly loathed to drink water because it reminded her of swallowing her father’s semen. Body-
The majority of women who do not have an eating disorder per se are nonetheless fearful about eating too much food and gaining weight. The cultural pressure on women to be beautiful must be recognized as a social, rather than a personal, problem. The emotional fallout from that pressure must be managed. And loving attention must be paid to eating high quality, non-
Specific Related Health Condition
Low Functioning or Sluggish Thyroid (Hypothyroidism). The thyroid gland regulates metabolism, the rate at which food is absorbed and utilized. A surprisingly high number of women suffer from a sluggish metabolism. Iodine is a major food of the thyroid gland. People who live inland suffer higher rates of hypothyroidism than those who live near the seashore, probably because there is more opportunity to obtain fresh, iodine-
Restorative Strategies: A medical doctor can order tests to determine thyroid function. You can also do this yourself: For two weeks, take your underarm temperature before rising. 98.6° F is normal, but in the morning the temperature for folks without thyroid problems is lower than that. However, if your temperature is substantially lower (some practitioners say by four-
Malnutrition. This is bound to occur with all weight and eating problem. Malnutrition indicates more than a lack of the proper foods, it can also be the inability of the system to absorb and distribute the nutrients.
Restorative Strategies: If you suffer severe malnutrition, such as serious underweight or overweight, bloating, excessive fatigue, digestive disturbances, etc., consult a qualified health care practitioner immediately. You need supervised dietary intervention. Also see "Dietary Support."
Candida Albicans and other Fungal/Yeast Infections. Often, weight problems coexist with digestive disturbances. Digestive disturbances can be due to unbalanced nutrition (for instance, from too many sugars and starches), or to antibiotics, which kill the beneficial intestinal flora, which in turn encourages indigenous fugal and yeast forms to proliferate. Fungus feeds on sugar. The more it reproduces, the more it needs to eat, and the more it needs to eat, the more it causes the person to crave sugar and overeat.
Restorative Strategies: Go on a high protein diet and avoid sugars and refined carbohydrates. (See "Dietary Support" and "Balancing Blood Sugar Levels." The food plan for candida and hypoglycemia is almost identical.) Stay away from even complex (whole) carbohydrates until the yeast has decreased. Eliminate gluten from the diet, which can cause intestinal damage (and even autoimmune disorders) and contribute to the proliferation of Candida. You may initially become hungrier as the yeast dies, but once it is out of your system you will feel relief. Take a supplement of acidophilus, bulgaricus and other friendly flora, available from the health food store. A naturopath or herbalist will be able to suggest herbs to combat the fungal overgrowth. Allopathic drugs should be used only as a last resort.
Tooth Decay. In many bulimics, the acid from the stomach, which is regurgitated along with the food, corrodes the tooth enamel and causes cavities and gum problems.
Restorative Strategies: Brush often and make sure to take proper care of the teeth. Baking soda as a mouth rinse and as a tooth powder will help alkalize the mouth and counter the effects of acids. Use toothpaste that is free of chemicals, dyes, sweeteners and detergents. See a dentist for regular checkups.
Mental and Emotional Problems. Although this article deals chiefly with physical conditions, eating disorders carry such a strong emotional component that it was necessary to include this reminder.
Restorative Strategies: Psychotherapy, preferably body-
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