Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Starving for Help

-Understanding the warning signs of an eating disorder
By: Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Starving to death is common in third world countries because they don’t have enough food to eat. Starving for help is a different yet equally serious problem because it isn’t about getting enough food to feed the physical body, rather, it’s about restricting food for the purposes of controlling body image. Starving for help is fueled by the struggle over 80% of American women experience daily, because that’s how many women are dissatisfied with their appearance or have deep insecurities their weight; which often can lead to developing an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia. In the United States eating disorders have become serious health problems impacting almost 10 million women and over a million men according to research from the National Eating Disorders Association, yet the overwhelming majority of people struggling in this area feel too ashamed to ask anyone for help so they suffer alone in silence.
Consider how often we hear warnings about the risk factors from things like driving without a safety belt, smoking, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol or being victimized in an abusive or violent relationship; because these serious issues are openly discussed from beauty shops to Bible study groups. However, consider how little we hear on the very real dangers of an eating disorder which can begin silently in any home at any time leading to devastating problems that impact an entire family and too often result in the tragic loss of life.
This special report is designed to help you or someone you love better understand an eating disorder and more importantly how to deal with key issues to help someone struggling alone in the darkness by bringing issues out into the light so others can come alongside to help you overcome this common, yet often crippling disorder. Keep track of the warning signs and symptoms you identify while reading this resource so you can be better informed and equipped to take positive action to change the areas you see that need attention, because you can’t fix an eating disorder alone.
FACT: The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is twelve times higher than the death rate of ALL other causes of death for females between fifteen to twenty-four years of age

FACT: 20% of women suffering with an eating disorder will die from health complications, many before they reach their thirtieth birthday
Can you think of any other life-threatening condition affecting young women that our culture remains so silent about? Eating disorders are rarely even whispered to be a common problem in our homes, schools, churches or communities, yet the research shows epidemic levels in every segment of society, especially among young women, with some girls beginning to struggle with acceptance about their body image as young as nine years old. These girls miss out on so many positive experiences throughout their teens and twenties because they are always hungry, always on a diet and rarely if ever feel accepted or valued for who they are because of the pressure to look and act a certain way to gain approval and attention, which sometimes are confused as a substitute for acceptance and affection. God designed our bodies to be the ‘skin’ that would house our ‘soul’ and bases our worth on who we are, not what we look like, however in today’s modern culture it seems that what you look like determines more about how people treat you than who you really are on the inside.
If you have college-age, (or younger), family members or friends there is a great likelihood that one or more of them are battling this secret condition, because 86% of people struggling with an eating disorder began the process before they reached the age of twenty. Sadly, once the battle begins it will last for a period of several years to often as long as fifteen years for the majority of those who are caught in the grip of anorexia and bulimia. Here are some other conclusions drawn from an extensive review of the clinical literature and published by the International Journal on Eating Disorders, (2003), to help you see the hidden health dangers from anorexia and bulimia.
40% of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years old.
Significant increase in incidence of anorexia from 1935 to 1989 especially among young women 15-24.
The incidence of bulimia in 10-39 year old women TRIPLED between 1988 and 1993.
Only one-third of people with anorexia in the community receive mental health care.
Only 6% of people with bulimia receive mental health care.
The majority of people with severe eating disorders do not receive adequate care.
Many colleges and even more high schools have extensive training programs to equip students in dealing with the very real health dangers associated with abusing substances like drugs and alcohol or participating in casual sex, yet schools and faith based organizations are almost silent on the dangers of eating disorders. When the topic does come up it seems to be more associated with a Hollywood celebrity in rehab than a common, yet secretive disorder likely hurting some young women you already know through school, work, church or in your neighborhood. To look at it from another perspective, consider how many times we have seen a whole community come together to search for one college co-ed feared to have been abducted or worse, while not realizing that this disorder slowly kills thousands of women every year right under the noses of the people closest to them who don’t even realize that they are dying inside.


Extreme weight loss

Extreme weight gain

Fear of being fat

Talks frequently about food, feeling, fat and the fantasy of a perfect body

Constantly compares self to the thin models and actresses seen in magazines or TV

Always seems to be eating or never seems to be eating

Prefers to spend time alone and at home

Strange eating rituals or behaviors

Wears layers upon layers of clothes

Always complaining of feeling cold and pale looking

Excessive about exercise

Dry and thinning hair

Excessive food stains on clothing or in the car

Excessive food wrappers in car, closet or under the bed

Loss of menstrual cycle

Always tries to be perfect

(Source: Deedra Hunter, LMHC
Certified Eating Disorder Specialist with the LifeWorks Group)

Sometimes when the topic of anorexia or bulimia comes up people act shocked that it could actually be a real problem or give insensitive feedback like ‘just get over it’ or ‘stop acting this way’ or ‘she just needs to eat something and she will be fine’ or the opposite ‘she just needs to lose a few pounds.’ Eating disorders aren’t something you can just get over with simplistic advice or a new diet because there are multiple factors driving this serious condition, including psychological, relational, cultural, medical and spiritual issues all intertwined and emeshed together, which is the biggest reason why you can’t successfully deal with an eating disorder by yourself.
The good news is that with the help of supportive and healthy people around you, you can win the battle over an eating disorder, but remember, it is still a battle that takes some time to overcome and can’t be fought alone. God knows the struggles you are facing, and I believe has already placed resources around you to help guide your path to find a way out of this confusing mixed up maze involving food, mood, frustration and motivation centered around the key faith issues that can become a safe shelter when we read about God’s love and acceptance of us through His message of hope in the Bible.
Personal Growth Exercise on Approval & Acceptance: Psalms 139 is one of the best places that you can read to really understand God’s great love for you- no matter what you are struggling with right now! I suggest that you take time to read Psalms 139 in the Bible, verse by verse and then personalize it to fit your name and situation, so that you are literally rewriting those verses penned by King David thousands of years ago into a very personal message from God to you in the middle of whatever you are facing right now. This journaling exercise has helped me so many times personally that I know it will be of encouragement to you today as well, so don’t delay- just try it!)

Remember that you aren’t alone, so stop for a minute and think about the many people or places where you can turn for support right now. This may include healthy people who have overcome an eating disorder in their past, or they may just be loving and supportive people like friends, family members, spouses, co-workers, support groups, Bible study groups, recovery programs, church programs, treatment centers, doctors, dieticians, nutritionists, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, trainers, and the list can go on and on depending on the complexity of symptoms you or a loved one may be facing.

Eating Disorder checklist for signs of Anorexia or Bulimia
—I hate how I look.
—I hate how I feel.
—I feel powerless.
—If I could control how I look, I would be happy.
—I obsessively weigh myself more than once a day.
—I obsessively think about food.
—I eat when I’m not hungry.
—I hide how much I eat.
—I hide how much I vomit.
—I hide how much I exercise.
—I hide how much I take laxatives and/or diuretics.
—I hide my true feelings.
—I avoid conflict at all costs.
—I avoid being around people because I feel fat.
—I have a hard time eating when other people are present.
—I have a hard time asking for help.
—I avoid letting people really know me.
—I feel a lot of guilt over my past.
—I feel a sense of shame about who I am.
—I feel a sense of low self-worth.
—I feel good because I’m a perfectionist.
—I wish I could just disappear.
—I wish I could stop my pain

If you answered yes to five or more of these factors you could have some of the serious signs that would indicate an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia and should seek a more complete evaluation from a qualified medical or psychological professional to protect your health
Some of these root causes are extremely powerful and complex, leading a person to the point of starving from the very thing God designed our bodies to need every day- food. Our bodies need food to survive, so understanding the connection between food and feelings can help move you from seeing food as the enemy to simply viewing it as the basic source of energy for our body to function as God designed. When you consider the millions of people struggling or suffering with an eating disorder, or the tens of millions of people close to them who don’t know what to do to help, gaining insight in this important area can bring relief and hope to someone you know who may be hurting, alone and afraid from not knowing what to do to escape this serious disorder to find the freedom and peace of feeling acceptance from who you really are on the inside, no matter what size body God designed for you to walk around in on the outside.
To learn more about helping someone struggling with an Eating Disorder check out:
Remuda Ranch- national faith based program to treat eating disorders & help for parents

National Eating Disorder Association, (NEDA)
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

The LifeWorks Group has a series of helpful resources on eating disorders, as well as numerous parenting resources and links from a Christian Counseling perspective to help you or a loved one-

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors contact information intact in the box below.
About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of and trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. He is a professional member of the National Speakers Association and partners with corporations and organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.
Access more complimentary counseling and coaching resources from The LifeWorks Group by visiting their extensive posting of blog’s and special reports designed to save you time by strategically solving problems at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Trashed Opportunities

By Deedra Hunter, LMHC

As a mental health counselor for over 30 years I have watched clients let go of their childhood traumas and achieve great success. I was reminded of this recently as I heard someone talk about feeling fearful about something they heard on the national news which caused them to throw their tomatoes away. Let me explain. I was at a luncheon last week when the topic of tomatoes came up due to the recent salmonella scare. A woman at my table said she had just thrown away all the new, beautiful, juicy, red, ripe tomatoes she had just bought at our local farmers market.. When I asked why she looked at me as if I had been off the planet for awhile and said "haven't you heard about all the tomatoes being poisoned? It's so scary". "I know that Florida grown tomatoes are safe for us to eat" I responded. "No they're not" she insisted. "Yes they are" I insisted back.

After many minutes spent reassuring her I had researched the tomato issue thoroughly and felt comfortable to keep enjoying them in my salads she took a long breath and stated she was still too scared to eat any. It was at that moment I wondered how many other things my lunch companion had missed because of a lack of knowledge and fear. Just as she had trashed perfectly good tomatoes I am sure she has trashed perfectly good opportunities.

I invite you to think about the things you may have let go of or opportunities you may have passed up because of a lack of knowledge (about yourself, others, or the situation) and fear. Dr. Henry Cloud in his new book The Secret Things Of God says it perfectly:" As you grow, God and life will reward your growth by giving you opportunities and open doors." Don't trash what God wants for you. Have the courage to gain knowledge and replace fear with faith.

NOTE: you can freely share this helpful resource with friends, coworkers or people in your family or church, (electronically or in print), provided you leave the authors information intact in the box below. Thanks for helping us to pass along articles to make life work better for you and those you care about.

About the Author: Deedra Hunter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who has multiple certifications from the University of Miami in eating disorders and substance abuse with over 30 years of experience. She is a best selling author and media personality who has hosted radio talk shows in Orlando and Miami, as well as having been a popular television personality interviewed on the network television affiliates of NBC, CBS and independent news stations throughout Florida. Deedra's newest book comes out nationally next year.

Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by calling 407.647.7005 or by visiting the LifeWorks counseling blog with over 100 complimentary articles and special reports at

The Crazy Roller Coaster of Conflict

-How to break out of circle arguments to find peaceful connection

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

“It’s your fault!”
“No it’s yours!”
“Oh yea, well you’re a bigger one!”

And on, and on the conflict goes. It’s what I call a circle argument because it goes around and around and never really gets anywhere and everyone ends up feeling bad. Sort of like a seriously dysfunctional merry-go-round except a lot more dangerous- it’s what I call the “Crazy Roller Coaster of Conflict.”

Are you a roller coaster fan or do they just make you fearful? I’ve found that most people are clearly on one side or the other, so let me ask it again. Do you really love the twists and turns of giant thrill rides or does it seem completely crazy to you?

If you absolutely can’t get enough of coasters you are not alone. Almost 300 million people visit theme parks every year and many of them are roller coaster enthusiasts. They love the excitement of a controlled setting that provides a rapid rush without any real risk.

So, if you love coasters let me ask the question again, but changing just one factor- the safety harness. You know, the big foam covered steel brace that covers your chest and completely locks you snugly into the seat. What if that safety harness failed 20% of the time? Would you like the ride with the risk of hanging on for your life one out of every five trips? Nah, I wouldn’t either. It would be a crazy coaster and only people totally out of touch with reality would ever get on it and they certainly wouldn’t ride it twice.

Conflict in relationships is a lot like the crazy coaster- it races round and round and occasionally you feel like you are hanging on for your life. That’s why most people don’t like conflict. They believe that no one wins the fight and that both sides end up losing so they try to avoid the tension of conflict by doing everything possible to avoid ever getting on the roller coaster of conflict.

a disagreement, struggle or battle over opposing issues or principles. From the Latin word ‘conflictus’ meaning an act of striking together
or clashing with. – Webster’s Dictionary

Everyone has to deal with conflict at every stage of life, consider-

Little kids who have conflict with their mom over bedtime or eating veggies
Employees who have conflict with co-workers because of office politics
Students who have conflict with the bully on the playground
Husbands who have conflict with their spouse over spending
Wife’s who have conflict with their mate over sloppiness
Teachers who have conflict with students who won’t do assignments
Politicians who have conflict with each other about who has the best plan
Roommates who have conflict over who cleans up the kitchen
Friends who have conflict over differences of opinion and belief

Since everyone has conflict, the bigger question is what will you do about it? People develop a style of managing conflict in childhood which flows out of their personality and family of origin. If you grew up in an environment where everyone stayed quiet and stuffed anger to avoid conflict then you will likely do the same. If your childhood home was full of shouts and mean spirited fighting was a daily occurrence then you will repeat the process. It can be pretty hard to break the cycle but it can be done if you are ready to change. Here are some insights to help you break out of circle arguments to move forward to have real connection in your communication with others.

Start by identifying the type of conflict that you are facing

Internal- struggling inside between multiple choices or decisions
Personal- struggling with opinions between you and other people
Organizational- competition, clashes or power struggles within or between groups, (like countries, families, schools, churches or political parties)

Next- track your typical response to conflict

1) Attacking-
When facing conflict you take an approach that includes traits of attacking others aggressively or passively with actions that could be described as- controlling, judgmental, close-minded, critical, using power plays, attacks behind your back, uses criticism and “put-downs”, starts false rumors, pretends to have done nothing wrong, complaints, making negative statements about everything, blames others, pulls others into disagreements, delights in misery of others. 2) Avoiding-
When facing conflict you take an approach that actively tries to avoid any form of pressure from others by choosing one of the following- playing dumb, withdraws, stuffs emotions, indecisive, acts innocent, defensive, sidesteps the issue, twists or bends the truth, blames others, avoids facing the truth about themselves and the situations around them.
Finally- focus on taking positive action based on your personality

If you are an attacker personality, then step back and remember the words of St. Paul who taught, “As much as possible try to live at peace with everyone.” Take a breath and focus on making responsible choices to calm the situation down, but start by calming yourself down first. This is a way to slow down the crazy coaster of conflict and break out of having another needless circle argument.

If you are an avoider, then step up to face the issues directly instead of stuffing it inside or trying to shy away from whatever tensions you may be trying to not deal with at work or at home. Since many people would rather avoid than deal with issues it will be important to remember the different stages of conflict to challenge you to grow to a stronger level of honest expression.

Conflict levels:

The real issue, (this is the only level that a solution can occur on)
Attack, blame, ignore, or circle argue which only leads to more conflict
Question everything, feel confused or full of doubt that things will change
Escape the relationship or give up on things ever changing

To break out of a circle argument- focus on finding and dealing with the real issue. If you are in a conflict with a small child who says, ‘you’re not the boss of me,’ focus on the immaturity and selfishness that can get in the way of rational thought. If you are facing a power struggle with a co-worker who is acting like a small child use the same approach. Face things directly and talk about the real issues. Don’t shout and don’t sulk. Just get real.

When you begin to take bold action to honestly face issues you will see the level of conflict begin to decrease and the level of satisfaction in your relationships increase which is a lot better way to live than being stuck on the crazy coaster of conflict.

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print, provided you leave the authors information intact in the box below.

About the Author: Dwight Bain is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Critical Incident Stress Management expert with the Orange County Sheriffs Office, founder of and trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally. Bain is a member of the National Speakers Association who partners with major corporations and national organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by calling 407.647.7005 or by visiting his counseling blog with over 100 complimentary articles
and special reports at