A Unique Resource for Treating Eating Disorders and Body Dissatisfaction
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Archive for July, 2011

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But weight…there’s more!

by Dr. Deah on Jul.29, 2011, under Events, Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

On our website, Leftovers To Go, we have two categories for blogs. One is Tasty Morsels, which is written by Dr. Deah Schwartz and is about body image, size acceptance, Health at Every Size, and using expressive arts therapies to address eating disorders and body dissatisfaction.  Tasty Morsels is based on Dr. Deah’s personal experiences as a clinician, fat activist, fat person, and promoter of size acceptance, and HAES.

The other category is current events.  Here we post links and brief comments/explanations to articles and other blogger’s posts also on the topics of body image, size acceptance, Health at Every Size, and using expressive arts therapies to address eating disorders and body dissatisfaction.

Sometimes there is a bit o cross-over.  That is the case today.  Here is the link to a video on You Tube for a trailer of the movie, Weightless. Phil Varlese shared this video on the Facebook Group page for Big Fat World. (Thanks Phil!)

As a certified Recreation Therapist, I LOVE this. It is such an affirmation of the profession of Recreation Therapy! (Improving the quality of life through recreational activities).  And as a scuba diver I REALLY love this. When I wanted to get certified, I searched high and low for a fat scuba diving instructor  because I didn’t want to feel self-conscious in my wet suit. I found her and became a diver.

Losing my self-consciousness in other areas of my life took more time, but I finally did that as well!

Of course the philosophy of focusing on health and NOT weight (whether it is measured in pounds, kilos, or stones) is generalizable to a person’s entire life and not just “Under the Sea.” But sometimes a person needs a jump start in one arena before they can believe it is possible to live their entire life loving their body and pursuing a healthy and happy lifestyle without self-loathing or punitive dieting.

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Health At Every Size

by Dr. Deah on Jul.28, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

It was a one two punch this week in favor of the good guys! :-)   Two days and two articles explaining how following the tenets of Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating do NOT promote eating disorders and do NOT give permission for a person to just eat anything and everything in sight 24/seven thereby promoting and encouraging BED.

Here are the links to the two articles.

First article is one I wrote for the NEDA newsletter and is found on page 6.

The second is from PsychCentral by Margarita Tartakovsky and in it Amy Pershing discusses HAES.


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A Tasty Morsel of a Book

by Dr. Deah on Jul.26, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

Actually it’s more of a tasty Nosh of a book! 

Once in a while I will write a book review.  There is nothing in my long list of credentials that officially certifies or licenses me to review a book. Among my two masters degrees, a doctorate and a crap-load of various certifications there is nary a one that ordains me as Dr. Schwartz Book Reviewer.

But that is the joy of reading and the value of free speech.  Anyone with a computer can now write a book review and who am I to keep my fingers still and my mouth shut??  And I suppose as co-author of Leftovers, To Go, a book about body image and eating disorders I have some credibility…but perhaps my most salient credential is being an avid reader and someone who really can not keep her mouth shut or her fingers still!

So here is a quick shout out to Ellen Frankel and Pearlsong Press for serving such a luscious literary meal in Frankel’s book, Syd Arthur. (Yes say it five times fast and it really does sound like a Herman Hesse book that I won’t review, but I will say was a seminal read during my late teens!)

Ellen Frankel does a remarkable job transporting the reader into Syd Arthur’s world. The poignant, intelligent and neurotic world of a Jewish Mother, oppressed by body-weight-hate, looking for meaning in her life that is not measured by weight or inches lost, and grappling with real loss…her child off to college… Perhaps because Syd’s world is so familiar and mirrors my world so accurately I am not an “objective voice” to review this book; but as someone who found this book so accurate and realistic, perhaps I’m the perfect person to review this book.

Keep the tissues handy, there will be tears of joy and sadness… nachas and tsuris.  (Nosheri optional)


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Baby Fat

by Dr. Deah on Jul.23, 2011, under Tasty Morsels: by Dr. Deah Schwartz

No, I am not writing about the horrific recent recommendation by Dr. David Ludwig that fat children be removed from their homes and placed into foster care…at least not yet; although if you would like to read more about that, there is no lack of articles and opinion pieces discussing this, including ones by Marilyn Wann in the SF Weekly and NAAFA.

No, I am not writing about the recent articles that childhood obesity is an epidemic and it’s never too soon to consider putting the baby on a diet.  Some suggesting that fat prevention starts in the womb and those pregnant women should be dieting during pregnancy…at least not yet; although if you are interested in reading about that, there are several bloggers who have written brilliantly about that topic as well including this one by Ragen Chastain.

I am writing about baby fat. The belly and other body fat many women acquire when they are pregnant and still have after they have given birth.

Mommy Hood

When I worked in an adult psychiatric facility occasionally patients were admitted for post postpartum depression.  As a clinician, and a naive woman who had not yet had their own baby, (how hard could it be to be a mom…yeah, right!) they were some of the most difficult and challenging clients I encountered.  My realization that the pain these women were experiencing was so overpowering that it tore them away from their newborn baby and placed them in psychiatric care was practically inconceivable to me.  I felt like I had at least two patients depending on me, the mother in the hospital bed and the baby at home in the crib.  (Not to mention whoever was helping the family while the mom was getting the care she needed to return home).

During the time I worked with these women, I noticed a pattern emerge.  I am not claiming this to be a statistically significant scientific study; this was simply based on my observations of about 20 patients, the intake assessments I conducted, and my individual and group sessions with them using expressive arts and recreation therapies.  These women had at least two things in common.  They were all first time mothers and each one of them fervently believed that the reason they were so depressed was because of how fat they were now that they had given birth.  Without exception, I heard time and time again that if they could just get rid of the baby fat they would feel better and be able to return home. Granted, some of the patients had histories of eating disorders but most of them, did not have any reported history of an eating disorder in their charts. They had, as revealed in our sessions, developed this body hate as they grew rounder during pregnancy and lived in fear that they would be fat and stay fat forever.

Wow, Fat is a powerful force.  Bad Evil Horrible Fat!!!

FAT…The great divider…Splits up families in a single blow, obliterates self-esteem, gives birth to self-hate.

As I worked with my patients many reasons for being hospitalized were revealed.  Underneath the body hate was fear of being a good parent, the loss of youth, the emotional weight gain of parental responsibility, the heaviness of mommy hood, and of course the hormonal changes stirring up the pot of emotions.

One of the exercises we used employed expressive arts therapies* to help the participants identify and define meaning and value to their bodies. Steering away from using adjectives pertaining to appearance or perceived beauty, the women found ways to appreciate and acknowledge their bodies for their abilities; their bellies for giving birth, their breasts for nurturing, their arms for holding, and their bodies as comforting cradles. Most importantly we worked on taking the blame away from the fat… away from the body being wrong or imperfect and focused on what the fear and sadness was REALLY about.  We used collage quite frequently which always gave us opportunities to weave in media awareness. How many of these women would still be this disgusted and disdainful of their bodies if they weren’t subject to constant harassment from visual media to maintain thin pre-pubescent bodies? It was difficult work and sometimes I felt that I was only scratching the surface or putting a band-aid on the deep rift between women and their bodies.  And yet, some of the happiest patient discharges in my entire career were when the moms went home to be with their babies. Minimal weight, if any, lost from their bodies, and yet they no longer blamed their baby fat or saw thin as the solution to their despair.  They gained insight and self-compassion and learned that they had to embrace themselves before they could embrace their children. 

*This activity is included in the Leftovers To Go August Shmooze-letter, Tidbits! Sign up at leftoverstogo.com and it will arrive in your e-mail box on August 1st.

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Two Fabulous Conferences Coming Up!

by Dr. Deah on Jul.21, 2011, under Events

Just a reminder that the NAAFA conference is taking place in Washington DC from August 4-8th and the ASDAH conference will be in San Francisco from August 12-14th, 2011.  These are wonderful opportunities to learn more about size acceptance, health at every size, network and have fun.

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Foster Care for Fat Kids?

by Dr. Deah on Jul.21, 2011, under Events

Here is a link to a wonderful commentary by Marilyn Wann on the recent suggestion by a public health expert to remove fat kids from their homes and place them in Foster Care. Do you have opinions about this?

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