Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where a body weight of less than 85% of what is expected is maintained by the individual struggling. Patients have an intense fear of gaining weight, will base accomplishments off of weight status, and experience amenorrhea, which is the loss of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles. Anorexia nervosa affects 0.6% of the adult population and is 12 times higher than the annual death rate due to all causes of death among females ages 15-24 in the general population (NIMH). Anorexia affects men as well as women.
This non-profit provides a help-line with people waiting to answer questions from people struggling with an eating disorder. They also offer information about anorexia, from definitions to information on how to help friends struggling with an eating disorder. There are support groups, a recovery forum, and school outreach programs. ANAD is also involved in research to gain a greater understanding of anorexia in the US.
Bariatric Surgery, also known as Weight Loss Surgery, is surgery on the digestive and metabolic system to produce weight loss. The three most common types of surgery are the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery, the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, and the Adjustable Gastric Band (commonly called the "Lap-Band"). Surgeries may be restrictive or malabsorptive/restrictive. An example of a restrictive surgery is the lap band surgery in which a synthetic band is placed around the top part of the stomach, just below the esophagus, drastically reducing the amount of food that can be eaten. Gastric bypass combines both malabsorptive and restrictive approaches to permanently reduce the size of the stomach and reroute part of the intestine.
This society is dedicated to advancing the science of metabolic and bariatric surgery to lessen the instances of obesity and other obesity related diseases throughout the world. Information on obesity can be found here as well as information about the different kinds of surgery available.
Bariatric and Metabolic Institute: Risks and Complications
Dr. Ed Livingston, a bariatric surgeon and editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), answers questions from people who are balancing the risks and benefits of the surgery. He discusses the most effective types of the surgery as well as how to find a reliable surgeon.
This site goes into detail about the different risks that are associated with bariatric surgery. It breaks the risks down into two categories, early risks, or negative impacts occurring right after surgery, and late risks, or risks occurring a while after surgery has taken place.
Linda Bacon discusses the societal pressures placed upon candidates considering bariatric surgery. She argues that the procedure is cosmetically as well as financially charged rather than primarily health promoting.
The second link shares a more in depth description of the possible negative health impacts, including physical as well as emotional, which come with Bariatric Surgery.
Online community of people who have received bariatric surgery. People post thoughts on their surgery and the outcomes, including the positive as well as negative outcomes from the surgery.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is recognized as one of the most common eating disorders, effecting between 1-5% of people in the US. The disorder is classified by recurrent and persistent episodes of excessive overeating with a sense of loss of control over eating during the episode. Binge episodes are often accompanied by physical and emotional discomfort, including feelings of disgust, guilt, and shame. Unlike bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder is not accompanied by purging or other types of compensatory behaviors.
BEDA offers information and help for individuals and families effected by binge-eating disorder. Their site has a blog with information about breaking research. They also hold yearly conferences for both professionals and patients.
Hirschmann, Jane R., and Carol H. Munter. Overcoming Overeating: Living Free in a World of Food. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Pub., 1988. Print.
Overcoming Overeating addresses uncontrolled eating by discussing the problems surrounding the diet mentality while teaching ways to create a healthy relationship with food. Hirschmann and Munter suggest that by giving up the ideas of good/bad food, emotional eating and dieting in general, readers can incorporate food into their lives without having it take over their lives.
Body image is a subjective view of your body gained from personal insight as well as from socio-cultural influences. Body image includes how you feel about your body and how you feel in your body.
This website includes body-positive resources including articles on body image, eating disorders, aging, and activism. Adios Barbie also presents campaigns, lectures, and events to create a world where everyone can be comfortable in their own body.
The Women’s Studies Program at Bradley University created the Body Project as a resource for people struggling with body image. The Body Project challenges the way people think about fitness and beauty by providing books, videos, programs, activities, and courses to help people understand and embrace body acceptance.
Jeanette, a healthy fat exercise instructor and Hollywood producer, promotes ideas of fat acceptance by posting her own personal experiences related to overcoming fat shame, as well as giving advice to those dealing with fat shame.
Handler, Stacey. The Body Burden: Living in the Shadow of Barbie. Cape Canaveral, FL: Blue Note Publications, 2000. Print.
Stacey Handler, the granddaughter of the woman who created the Barbie doll, writes on her struggles with body image in the hopes of helping other women who face similar struggles. This book is written in poetry, presenting a unique media to cover many topics including food and body image issues.
Miss Representation. Dir. Jennifer Newsom and Kimberlee Acquaro. By Jacoba Atlas and Jessica Congdon. Perf. Christina Aguilera, Michele Bachmann and Chris Baker. Girls' Club Entertainment, 2011. DVD.
Miss Representation unveils how media contributes to the under-representation of women in America. The film discusses how media has left women believing their beauty and sexuality is what will bring them power, rather than their intelligence or fortitude. The film includes many interviews with powerful women including Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi and Katie Couric. The website includes additional resources, including statistics, tools, and steps for activism.
Orbach, Susie. Fat Is a Feminist Issue: The Anti-diet Guide for Women. New York: Galahad, 1997. Print.
Orbach discusses how overeating may be used as a way to rebel against the strict cultural stereotypes women face. She suggests that some women are using their bodies to escape the commoditization of women.
Bulimia nervosa is a disorder characterized by binge eating episodes accompanied by inappropriate compensatory behavior such as purging or over-exercising. Similar to binge eating disorder, overeating episodes are accompanied by lack of control over eating, often followed by feelings of self-disgust, guilt, and shame. Approximately 500,000 people in America struggle with this disorder, including approximately 4% of college-aged women.
This website provides a wealth of information on everything from details about the disorder to ways to seek help. It offers advice for medical professionals, as well as families, to recognize the signs that someone may be struggling with bulimia nervosa.
Hall, Lindsey, and Leigh Cohn. Bulimia: A Guide to Recovery. Carlsbad, CA: Gürze, 1999. Print.
This book offers information on the disorder as well as specific tasks to aid in overcoming bulimia and ideas on how to support others who are bulimic. There are over 400 accounts from recovered and/or recovering bulimics as well as treatment options.
Dieting is the practice of eating a prescribed amount or type of food in hopes of reaching a certain goal, typically that goal is health or aesthetically charged. Around 25% of the US population is dieting at any given time. Diets fail 95% of the time and often lead to disordered eating behaviors and negative feelings about one's own body.
Hirschmann, Jane R., and Carol H. Munter. When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself from Food and Weight Obsession. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1995. Print.
In this groundbreaking book, Hirschmann and Munter discuss how dieting itself has turned us into compulsive eaters who are obsessed with food and weight. They suggest feeding yourself to your fulfillment, thinking about problems rather than using food as a problem solver, and introducing food as an item that fuels us rather than takes over our lives.
Kolata, Gina. Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.
New York Times science writer, Gina Kolata, opens up the discussion on how dieting is less about health and more about money, attaining impossible ideals, and power. Kolata follows four determined dieters documenting how they are succumbing to the societal ideals and sanctions of the diet industry. This book challenges the conventional wisdom on health and dieting.
Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and other eating issues that don't fall into one of the other specified categories. These disorders are categorized by extreme emotions surrounding food and weight. Eating disorders are emotional as well as physical disorders and 20 million women and 10 million men in the US will struggle with an eating disorder at some point. The media is thought to contribute to promoting impossible body ideals, which encourage people to engage in harmful behaviors in order to fit in with the ideals presented.
Hornbacher, Marya. Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia. New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1998. Print.
Wasted is a memoir of Hornbacher’s own struggles and recovery from anorexia and bulimia. It describes her psychological as well as physical struggles, including a particularly serious bout which “put the romance of wasting away to rest forever.”
IAEDP is an international organization dedicated to educating health care professionals on eating disorders. IAEDP offers a community for health care professionals to gain information and insight about eating disorders and treatment. IAEDP provides education sessions, networking events, and an annual symposium for members. Dr. Conason serves on the board for the New York Chapter as their Research Liaison.
NEDA offers information, guidance, a helpline, and referral information. They provide programs and services to support families in early intervention and improved access to treatment. NEDA envisions a world without eating disorders. Check out their Proud2BMe blog for teens!
This website provides information on the different types of eating disorders, as well as guidance for people suffering from eating disorders or people with loved ones who are suffering. It also provides links to recent research and news articles on eating disorders so that you can stay up to date with the current facts. They also provide treatment referral information through their site.
The fat acceptance movement began in the 1960s as a way to rid society of anti-fat bias and discrimination. The movement recognizes the pervasive discrimination that fat people are subjected to, including by medical professionals which puts individuals' health and wellbeing at risk. The movement includes social gatherings for people to celebrate their bodies in different ways including parties, arts events, swimming, and other activities.
Founded in 1969, NAAFA is a non-profit civil rights organization dedicated to ending size discrimination in all of its forms. NAAFA's goal is to help build a society in which people of every size are accepted with dignity and equality in all aspects of life. NAAFA will pursue this goal through advocacy, public education, and support.
Fat sex is often stigmatized and fat individuals are desexualized. Let's bring sexy back! Below are some resources to help you have the best sex possible.
The adipositivity project is aimed to broaden the definition of physical beauty through displaying fat physicality in pictures. The goal of the project is to encourage discussion of body politics as well as introduce (through photographs) a type of body and beauty that is normally unseen.
Blank, Hanne. Big Big Love: A Sourcebook on Sex for People of Size and Those Who Love Them. Emeryville, CA: Greenery, 2000. Print.
This is a handbook on relationships, sex, and confidence for people of all different sizes, genders, and sexual orientations. Blank promotes the idea that everyone can have a fantastic sex life regardless of their weight. It covers everything you need--from dating to sex toys to positions-- to create a happy, satisfying sex life.
This San Francisco based sex-shop carries toys, erotica, assistive devices, educational materials, and a blog to enhance your sex life. Check out their guide to Plus-Size Sex Positions.
Fat studies is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on eliminating stigma and bias based on body weight, shape, and size. Fat studies challenges the mentality, prevalent amongst the general public and health professionals alike, that weight loss equals health. They promote body acceptance and the idea that people can be healthy at every size.
Kulick, Don, and Anne Meneley. Fat: The Anthropology of an Obsession. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2005. Print.
Kulick and Meneley have put together a collection of essays written by anthropologists and activists on a variety of fat focused topics including food, race, and popular culture. The essays speak to the discomfort that people have with fat and attempt to introduce fat in an objective way.
Rothblum, Esther D., and Sondra Solovay. The Fat Studies Reader. New York: New York UP, 2009. Print.
Rothblum and Solavay put together works from scholars, artists, activists, and intellectuals to create a resource that provides a historical overview of fat studies, an in-depth examination of the movement’s fundamental concerns, and an up-to-date look at its innovative research. The fat studies reader looks at the historical construction of fatness to modern day discrimination.
Health at Every Size
Health at every size is a movement which promotes health independent of weight and size. The organization supports people of all sizes in addressing health directly through adopting healthy lifestyles.
Bacon, Linda. Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight. Dallas, TX: BenBella, 2008. Print.
Linda Bacon’s book promotes body acceptance by arguing that fat is not the problem in our society; rather dieting is the problem. Bacon encourages readers to feed themselves well and move in a way that makes them happy and feel fulfilled.
The health at every size website offers a community of people who are doing work which has a body acceptance theme to communicate and work together to spread the ideas of the movement. This site encourages body-positive messages to be spread throughout the media as well as within your community.
Intuitive eating is an approach to developing a healthy relationship with food, your body, and your mind. Intuitive eating encourages you to listen to your inner cues of hunger and fullness and to use food as fuel rather than as something that can affect your feelings of self-worth.
Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2003. Print.
These sources provide information on how to rid yourself of disordered eating patterns and listen to your cues of hunger and fullness to become an intuitive eater. Evelyn Tribole is an award winning dietician with a counseling practice specializing in eating disorders and Intuitive Eating.
Roth, Geneen. Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. New York: Scribner, 2010. Print.
Roth intertwines beliefs and how you eat into one comprehensive understanding of yourself. She describes how, in understanding when you are using food to numb your emotions (or as anything more than fuel), you have become disconnected with your spirit. Roth describes her book as a guide to reconnecting to what is already there within you.
Mindful Eating is the process of bringing your full attention to your eating experiences with the intention of caring for yourself. It involves noticing all aspects of eating, including the effects of food on your body.
Bays, Jan. Mindful Eating; A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2009. Print.
Dr. Jan Chozen Bays integrates her experiences as a physician and as a meditation teacher to introduce mindful meditation into health through food. The process involves brining one’s full attention to the meal, including different tastes, smells, thoughts, and feelings which arise during the meal.
Dr. Alexis Conason’s blog hosted by Psychology Today helps people improve their relationship with food. The blog includes articles about how traditional diets are often harmful, body positive messages, weight stigma, eating disorders, and much more.
Hanh, Thich N., and Cheung, Lilian. Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.: Haper Collins, 2010.
Co-authored by a nutritionist and a spiritual leader, Savor discusses the idea of looking inside yourself and becoming aware of your own body’s wants and needs. This awareness will allow you to understand how to properly nourish your body through food.
Mindfulness Meditation aims to increase our awareness of the present moment with nonjudgmental observation and acceptance. Through this process, we can regain control over automatic behaviors and break habitual patterns that cause chaos and unhappiness in our lives. Mindfulness meditation has been effective in managing stress, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and much more.
This website offers meditations lead by John Kabat-Zinn Ph.D. John Kabat-Zinn is known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher who is largely responsible for bringing mindfulness meditation into mainstream healthcare. Kabat-Zinn is the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
This Psychology Today article written by Karen Kissel Wigela Ph.D. discusses the overall goal of mindfulness meditation, as well as techniques in how to meditate successfully.
Obesity is a medical term denoting a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30. More than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are classified as overweight or obese. In 2013, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease. However, Dr. Conason (and many others) believe that people can be healthy at a wide range of different shapes and sizes, including BMIs greater than 30. Recent research disputes the claim that obesity causes illness and there is some evidence that being overweight or class I obesity may even be protective for your health.
Lavie, Carl J., and Kristin Loberg. The Obesity Paradox: When Thinner Means Sicker and Heavier Means Healthier.
Dr. Carl Lavie writes on how overweight and moderately obese individuals often live longer and fare better than those of normal weight or underweight. Dr. Lavie describes how to achieve maximum health as apposed to minimum weight.
The Obesity Society is an organization dedicated to advancing the science-based understanding of the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of obesity by creating the leading professional society in the field. The society offers membership with a yearly Obesity Week conference (co-hosted by ASMBS) which brings together the world's leading experts on obesity to discuss innovations in research, science, and treatment.
Psychotherapy is a general term for treating your mental health problems by talking to a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or other mental health professional. The process includes learning about your moods, thoughts, and feelings, while discovering how to take control of your emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
The American Psychological Association’s mission is to “advance the creation, communication, and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.” The APA provides access to other resources including books, other publications, and recent research on a myriad of different psychology topics.
Sex therapy is a type of psychotherapy focused specifically on problems related to sexual functioning, sexual feelings, or intimacy. Common issues include arousal problems, discrepant sexual desires, pain during sex, difficulty achieving orgasm, or shame related to sex. Sex therapy may be undertaken either as an individual or as a couple.
AASECT is devoted to the promotion of sexual health by the development and advancement of the fields of sexual therapy, counseling, and education. This is a great resource to locate professionals including physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, allied health professionals, clergy members, lawyers, sociologists, marriage and family counselors and therapists.
This boutique, located in the Midwest, has a focus on the women’s perspective of sex and sensuality. The store promotes sexual health and pleasure while offering advice on sex through their blog.
SSTAR’s goals are to facilitate communication among clinicians who treat problems of sexual function, sexual identity, and reproductive life. Membership allows professionals to communicate ideas and new research.
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.
The Power of Vulnerability. Brene Brown. Ted Talks. TedxHouston, June 2010.
Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher, talks about her research findings on shame, as well as looking at her own struggles with shame. She studies the human connection and how we view empathy, authenticity, and worthiness in relation to shame. Her talk has received over 15 million views, highlighting the universality of shame.
Weight Bias/Weight Stigma
Weight stigma is discrimination that people receive on account of their weight. This can include discrimination in the workplace, inappropriate medical care, or stereotypes in the media that lead to reduced quality of life for overweight individuals.
The Rudd Center aims to end weight stigma through research, education, and advocacy. The website includes media resources, blogs, recent publications, and an online toolkit for people to gain information about weight stigma and how to end the bias.