I won't add a link because he certainly doesn't need my help for traffic, but after balking a couple of times, I'm wading into the aftermath of the scurrilous post by Tuthmosis, who ran a piece about the five reasons to date an eating-disordered woman. He has been pilloried widely for saying awful things such as, "Her obsession over her body will improve her overall looks," and "She's fragile and vulnerable."
I’ve said many times that the causes of disordered eating are extremely complicated, a condition that muddles any conversation about overcoming the personal and societal ills that result. Obesity is a very noticeable outcome, and there are others, of course.
One such muddler is the phenomenon of craving, which is well known to addicts of every stripe. It’s the biochemically driven desire to ingest more of the addictive substance or engage again in the addictive experience, because the body has become habituated to the addictive action.
Welcome to another installment of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask interesting people for brief answers to brief questions. Today’s participant is a clinical psychologist and author who holds the nation’s first endowed professorship in eating disorders, at the University of North Carolina. Remember, please: No counting! “10 words” is about attitude, not addition, and besides, let’s see you do it.
Name Cynthia Bulik
Born when, where 1960, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Residence Chapel Hill, NC
Family situation Married, three kids
A transformative event from your childhood “The death of my brother, Mark. I was 9. He was a premature baby who lived one day.”
When did you know you wanted to research ED? “My sophomore year in college. I was invited to do rounds with George Hsu, the attending physician for an eating disorders program in Pittsburgh.”
A surprising fact about you “I’m a [national-level] gold medalist ice dancer.”
Across my transom came a casting call by documentarians seeking people "who have taken eating pure and healthy to an extreme." I've always thought that incidence of orthorexia was overstated, though certainly, it ain't if you got it.
If you're interested, you can volunteer here.
I say in my book, ”Fat Boy Thin Man” that when the ideas that I hold about compulsive eating and food addiction become mainstream, scientific advances will have been far more influential than anything I said. I believe my story of losing 150 pounds-plus and keeping it off for two decades deserves to be in the conversation, but as a counterpoint to the science, not a replacement for it.
My reaction to this Daily Mail article has a couple of parts, making it worth more than only a tweet but (I hope) less than essay-length bloviation. Yes, I do go on.
The story is about celebs whose bodies might suggest an undereating problem, so they go out of their way to eat big in public while drastically restricting food in private. There's even an acronym for it — the DIPE, a documented instance of public eating. Seriously.
Connecticut-based insurer CIGNA is about to embark on a seven-month series of free telephone seminars to help people better understand eating disorders.
The first is next Tuesday, and will feature Stacie McEntyre, executive director of the Carolina House residential eating disorders treatment center.
I'm a couple days behind on this, but wanted to register it nevertheless: Minnesota's senators (Franken and Klobuchar) and Tom Harkin of Iowa, again introduced FREED, the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders bill, last week.
It would do a number of things — such as expand federal research, train health professionals and educators to screen for eating disorders effectively, and create a patient advocacy program, according to a joint release by the senators.
The Oxford scholar Christopher Fairburn would have to be considered one of the world's foremost authorities on eating disorders. His bio includes: twice a fellow at Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences; a governor of the Wellcome Trust, the largest international biomedical research foundation; recipient of the 2002 Outstanding Researcher Award by the Academy for Eating Disorders.
Steady readers will know that I'm a big proponent of treatment for food addiction. In 1991, I got it — nine weeks in the eating disorders unit of an accredited psychiatric hospital, and it was one of the most important interludes of my life.
I don't want to go into the reasons why, but that sort of treatment is far less available today, and making a case for the diagnosis of food addiction, so that insurance will support its treatment, is the primary reason I wrote my book.