Food for Thought Yoga Therapy
Yoga Therapy for Disordered Eating
We eat for life. We cannot live without adequate food and water intake. Yet for some, food is not seen as a source of life-giving nourishment or form of sustenance; instead, it becomes an enemy.
Why the term disordered eating? Because eating orders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, and other specified feeding or eating disorders (OSFED) often begin with how one thinks about, or perceives, food: food as being a source of weight gain (body image, fear of shaming); eating food perceived as a lack of self-control, and not eating being a form of control; food as a source of comfort or security (comfort food or emotional eating, coping with stress or trauma); food being a source of body contamination (cleanses, fasting); zealousness in eating only 'perfect' health foods to the point of eating unhealthfully or restrictively (orthorexia).
Food for Thought Yoga Therapy™ - Be Aware, Don't Compare
Our society does a tremendous disservice to women of all ages in regard to their body—and ultimately their mental wellbeing—leading to statistics which show that fourth graders are already dieting and have weight-related concerns / behaviors. Although eating disorders are commonly attributed to teens and young women, disordered eating behaviors and eating disorders are increasingly prevalent among middle-aged women. Ironically, and sadly, the modern yoga studio culture has not been helpful in this regard; rather, it has created a contorted (literally) and distorted image of the female body, as well as a culture of be this-not that, eat this-not that (good in moderation, but not as an extreme lifestyle), and consumerism which drives the perfect-body image (skin-tight or body-exposing 'yoga-wear,' innumerable accessories for 'hydration' such as bottles and specialty drinks, promotion of cleanses and fasting (unsupervised, and often not based upon sound protocol), and yes, the above-mentioned orthorexia or 'clean eating' fixation. Can, and does, this mentality lead to disordered eating and eating disorders? Very much so.
How, then, can yoga be beneficial and healing? By bringing yoga back to its intended purpose as a self-practice, and away from a body-conscious practice and fitness-oriented practice. Yoga therapy with an experienced yoga therapist may be beneficial in reducing overall anxiety, laying a foundation for coping with life-challenges and stressors, and creating an outlook of compassion, rather than judgement or criticism, for oneself. (Competition and comparison occurs not only among others, in public spaces, but also inwardly, with oneself.) Humans are multifaceted beings, therefore yoga therapy for disordered eating is provided in conjunction with other supportive therapies: Mindful Mentoring for Women and Whole-Person Nutrition.
• Almost 10% of the U.S. population, or 30 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime
• Women, and women with physical disabilities, are more likely to develop eating disorders
• Between 28-74% of risk for eating disorders is through genetic heritability
• One death every 52 minutes—10,200 deaths per year— are the direct result of an eating disorder
• About 26% of people with eating disorders attempt suicide
• Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent comorbidities associated with eating disorders