Tag Archives: starvation

The Red Bracelet Encourages Starvation

anorexia, bulimia, fashion, death, starvation, eating disorders, mental health

Isabella Caro was a fashion model who died from anorexia at 28. Before she died she posed for a campaign on anorexia awareness.

The other day I ended up on some anorexic’s blog. I was researching a story about zombie fungus and then wanted another name for fuzz, which lead to lanugo (the light fur babies are born with and that anorexics get because there isn’t enough fat in their bodies to keep them warm). I was derailed from my story research for three hours as I surfed through blogs on anorexia.  I became more disturbed as I learned a whole host of new terms. There is a whole lingo that I didn’t even know about. It includes ana, mia. pro-ana and thinspo. What is this? It’s a short form for anorexia, bulimia and those that support these eating disorders. Thinspo is pictures of scrawny and skeletal people from celebrities to everyday people as a form of inspiration to keep going with the “diet.”

Support?

I knew of eating disorders and grew up with my own. I know of people struggling and fighting to be healthy before they kill themselves with starvation, or become grotesquely obese. I know it’s tough and many women die. Others have their health affected for the rest of their lives. I know that the movie and fashion industry, as well as even professional gymnastics are partially to blame for perpetuating an unhealthy ideal, which is unattractive and deadly. I know all this.

What I didn’t know was that there was a sub-culture of people who are supporting each other in their choices to starve themselves into skeletons and prepare for an early grave. From the blogs I surfed, these seem to be people mostly in their teens, and mostly women. They’re not just on a quest to lose weight and be a healthy weight. They want to achieve a BMI of less than 17.5 and weigh 100 lbs no matter their height or build. A BMI under 18.5 for most people is considered underweight.

Eating disorders can cause a host of health problems and conditions. They include but aren’t limited to: lanugo, stress fractures, osteoporosis, dehydration, kidney failure, hair loss, dry skin, gastric rupture, erratic heartbeat, peptic ulcer, pancreatitis, gall bladder disease, cholesterol issues, impaired organ function, impaired mental capabilities, high or low blood pressure, reproductive problems, blood sugar issues, diabetes, death. If one does recover, some of these symptoms never go away.

As I read the blog I thought it was a joke at first, and that the few comments of  “congratulations,you’re getting thinner” and “don’t give up hope; you’ll get there.” were tongue in cheek. But as I went from one person’s blog to another’s, with pictures of skeleton legs, I grew alarmed. A girl with legs so boney there is no shape was trying to diminish her calf muscle. Another or the same was happy when there was a gap between her legs at the very top of the pelvic girdle. Another wants to know how you keep your boobs when you’re starving yourself. Another  comments that she’s pissed off her blood sugar is high when she’s eating between 700-1000 calories a day.

Nicole Richie, eating disorder, ana, mia, aanorexia, thinspo, starvation

Nicole Richie, normal and anorexic. The picture on the right would be considered Thinspo. Creative Commons: tollieschmidt, flickr

I won’t list most of these blogsites because I think these people need serious help before they die over an obsession. There is something seriously wrong with a culture that perpetuates the existence of such a debilitating and often deadly condition. Several of the blogsites mentioned Ana Boot Camp or the ABC diet.  They also talked about wearing a red bracelet. So I went to the site. It seems the red bracelet is supposed to show support for someone dealing with a disorder, let them know they’re not alone. All right, that’s fairly noble. Don’t make these people feel worse when they’re so mentally unhealthy. But the more insidious aspect of this is that it’s not for supporting a person as they go through therapy to gain back a healthy way of eating. The undercurrent is that these young women can share and encourage each other to keep dieting and losing weight to point of death.

The Ana website sounds good at first when you read part of the disclaimer that says: This website is for support for those with an eating disorder who feel alone and by themself with this issue. I support the recovery of the indivdual when they are ready and will never support those who ‘want an eating disorder’. (sic) When you read farther down you get this: As well, if you are looking to get anorexia / bulimia by being here then please leave now. You will not find information contained within this web site, forum, or any site linked to / from this website on how to become anorexic or bulimic. Well that’s good, right? Don’t help people further their eating disorders. Support them in getting over it.

Unfortunately it’s not true as the Ana commandments are listed:

1. If you aren’t thin you aren’t attractive.
2. Being thin is more important than being healthy.
3. You must buy clothes, style your hair, take laxatives, starve yourself, do anything to make yourself look thinner.
4. Thou shall not eat without feeling guilty.
5. Thou shall not eat fattening food without punishing oneself afterwards.
6. Thou shall count calories and restrict intake accordingly.
7. What the scale says is the most important thing.
8. Losing weight is good/gaining weight is bad.
9. You can never be too thin.
10. Being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.

It would be better to say, here is what many anorexics believe but you should not follow these. The site also goes on to give recipes and ways to feel full without eating, and a diet regime (Ana ) where you never eat more than 500 calories and as low as 50 calories (or fasting) per day. There are Auschwitz victims who ate more than that, and they still starved. So the claims that the site does not encourage bulimia or anorexia are false. But then it’s being maintained by a 17-year-old anorexic in England, whose mental faculties could very well be impaired by her disorder. I’ve talked about the mental impairment that happens with depression, and the feeling of isolation and shame that comes with an eating disorder. I would however, never support continuing with a disorder, or encouraging people to lose more weight than is healthy, and what these young women think is ideal will affect them for the rest of their lives. I would encourage getting help, refusing to look at pictures of anorexic celebrities, and finding someone to talk with about the problem.

In fact, if I had a child, with the way today’s culture seems to favor the ultra thin,  I would watch her (or him) closely to make sure they were eating properly. And I still say that I’d rather be overweight than underweight. At least with a few extra pounds your body has more resources for recovery. I feel shocked and sad that there is such a culture out there where skeleton women encourage each other to look more like death, not even warmed over.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 25-31

zombies, food, apocalypse, eating, diet, hunger, food culture

How long would you survive in the Apocalypse before having to eat this? Creative Commons: Daniel Hollister

Welcome to the Apocalypse Diet, where I have not bought any food since the new year began, unless I went out for dinner, which doesn’t count. I’m living off of the food in my place and blogging about it. I’ve hit what I think is the second stage; boredom. I’m not quite at stage III, which is the truly creative part, but living in the stretching out of veggies and protein, eating frozen homemade meals and recycling the ideas, ad nauseum.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 25:

What I’m truly missing is the fresh veggies. I tend to eat a lot of them. Sigh. Today was the nonexcitement day of two cookies and four crackers for breakfast, defrosted pollo en mole with rice for lunch, and defrosted not quite turkey shepherd’s pie for dinner. When I got home I realized that my cat might well have eaten a few zombies because I never overfed her and she’s still pudgy and glossy. I had a cup of instant hot chocolate (with Frangelico) later in the evening. I don’t like hot drinks so you know it’s either really cold or I’m desperate for sweet or both.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 26:

Zombies and people need good teeth to chew chew chew, so I had a dental appointment for breakfast. The almond milk, not quite successful clam chowder for lunch with a few crackers filled me up. It’s tasty even if it’s too watery. Dinner consisted of meeting up with a friend and having two ciders and an ahi tuna plate. So yummy from Biercraft and smothered in black sesame seeds with wasabi aioli and a bit too salty cooked spinach.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 27:

More mole with rice for lunch. Went for a couple of drinks after work and ate a bit of someone else’s calamari. I wasn’t that hungry because of the mole and yes, some chocolate peanut butter cups someone had a work. So dinner, or the evening actually involved nothing. I had two cookies and that was it. Sometimes I just don’t feel hungry.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 28:

Saturdays are always weird days of eating for me. I often don’t eat until half the day is gone. I still have this container of Dan-D-Pak Crunchy Peanut Snax Mix. They’re Chinese (or you can find them in Chinese markets) and have white sesame, black sesame, wasabi and seaweed crunchy coatings. A small handful of these is around 100 calories and while peanuts are pretty oily it’s not a bad sort of lunch.

I didn’t really eat and did work out so I was quite hungry by the time I went for dinner with a friend. I had chicken puttanesca on the Drive at the Libra Room. I go to the Libra Room quite often but usually for drinks so it had been a while since I had dinner there. Puttanesca is made with tomatoes, black olives, anchovies, capers, garlic (of course) and chilies. With a bit of cheese and generous portions of chicken this was a tangy, tasty meal. In fact, of all the Italian restaurants on the Drive I have to say this was the best puttanesca I ever had. Everything was blended so perfectly that I could taste each ingredient. Even the cheese stood out. I highly recommend it and for $15 I had enough for dinner on Sunday as well.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 29:

Sunday, another day of odd eating times. I had the leftover pasta for lunch and wasn’t that hungry for dinner so it was a

Engevita yeast has a cheesy flavor and can enhance meals. healthysupplies.co.uk

handful of the crunchy peanuts. A couple of my lemons were starting to looking sinister, so I made avgolemono, a Greek lemony soup often made with egg and orzo pasta. It turns out I had two recipes and one used rice, which is the style I made. I still have fresh parsley as well, and a lot of eggs that have to get used up. I had a small bowl and then froze the rest.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 30:

I had some of my vegetarian chili today, made with nuts and seeds and no meat. I was actually overfull with the 500 ml I ate. But somehow, I was hungry again for dinner which was pasta with artichokes, sundried tomatoes, garlic, carrot, onion and scallops. I mixed in a bit of grated parmesan and some engevita or flake yeast, which as a cheesy taste.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 31:

Here we are, at the last day of January. One month of the Apocalypse diet completed! Since I’m writing this during the day, I’ll have to post what tonight’s dinner was tomorrow. Breakfast was the crunchy peanuts, again. Lunch consisted of the last piece of chicken (besides the whole one still in the freezer) the last of the very wilted chive tops, garlic and the gai lan, which is still surprisingly green. I nuked these with some spices and water. Yes, no starch is evident as this is a throwback to my pre-Apocalypse style of eating lunches.

I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I will not be going out for dinner often.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. I believe I’ll be able to eat relatively healthy at least until March.

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The Skinny On Models

fashion, anorexia, bulimia, eating disorders, plus sizes, health

In the fashion industry, this is a normal size. Creative Commons: scrapetv.com

I’ve talked about this before, but it bears repeating. Back many years ago when I was in the throes of my eating disorder, classified as bulimia, I attended some group counseling sessions. Now my bulimia was not the normal one, where you gorge and vomit. I didn’t vomit. I starved myself, then gorged and then my bodily functions did a bit of a natural purge, but it was an uncontrolled desperate, self-hating way of eating and never on healthy foods. People with eating disorders never gorge on carrots or celery.

Now this counseling group was in the evenings at the psychiatrist’s home. I was the ugly duckling amongst the swans, but those swans were emaciated, walking sticks. Pretty much all of them were models dealing with anorexia. I remember the doctor asking once, “How many people have known someone who died from an eating disorder?” I didn’t but probably 80% of those models had known someone who starved themselves to death. The video below shows Isabelle Caro who died a few years after this was made at the age of 28. She looks 60.

And yet, twenty years later, we still see that the modeling, acting, dancing  and gymnastic sports industries have a prevalence toward the ultra thin person. Ultra thin to the point of sickeningly unhealthy. When I hear that models are considered plus size from size 8 and up I get angry. What does plus mean with sizing? Well, it means more than normal or average. Plus sizing when I was a kid was for truly large ladies, like sizes 18 and up.

anorexia, eating disorders, models, fashion industry, plus sizes, modeling, fashion, health, starvation

What astounds me is that this woman, by her dress, feels she's still beautiful. Creative Commons: evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com

Being classified as a plus size 8 means that you’re going to think you’re bigger than average, that there’s something wrong and abnormal about you. The fashion industry is probably the worst, with the movie industry coming in second. Seriously, these people should be smacked severely for causing needless deaths and psychoses. When children of six are worrying about their weight or being too fat, there is a lot wrong with the world. Albeit, as a pudgy child I didn’t have it easy and children are notoriously cruel, but our culture shapes what they consider aberrant.

I have Amazonian friends. They’re nearly six feet tall. Some are slimmer than others, because nature makes us differently, but none are fat. You can bet that by height alone they’re all going to be over 150 pounds and they’re going to be considered plus size. For that matter, maybe all of my friends (except one who is tiny and has size 5 feet but still has a bit of a tummy) would be plus size by modeling standards.

Hanging clothes on living skeletons who are lit and pomaded to look partially healthy gives no one the hope of looking the same in such an outfit. The pictures here are the extremes but models are often far underweight and on their way to an early death. Actors are told they’ll be fired from their roles if they put on so much as 10 lbs. Unless you’re a comedian; they’re allowed to be fat because fat is funny. And these supposedly normal size models…they stand a high chance of suffering throughout their lives, should they live that long. They’re not just missing fat, they’re missing muscle mass, not to mention nutrition to run a healthy body. Telling someone they’re fat doesn’t make them healthier if they starve themselves into nonexistence.

fashion, plus models, starvation, anorexia, eating disorders, modeling,

From Plus Model Magazine: Katya Zharkova next to the fashion industry's ideal.

There is  the beginning of a backlash in the fashion industry but obviously it’s slow when Twiggy (who was 110 lbs) would now be considered plus size. The clothing store Le Chateau perpetuates the skinny myth, where you’ll be hard pressed to find L, but you’ll find S, XS, XXS and XXXS. Shame on you, Le Chateau.  Plus Model Magazine embraces lush, curvy models, and the magazine looks a lot at unhealthy body image. This last image indicates the difference between the skeletal model preferred by the fashion industry and the body ideal that is more common for all women. There are very few women, a small percentage, who could be healthy and skinny enough to be a model without starving themselves.

So, don’t believe what you see in fashion and in the movies. Those aren’t real people sizes. If you’re wearing a size 12, that’s not a plus size. That’s average. And, mothers, don’t let your daughters grow up to be models.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 5-7

Explanation is at the end of just what the Apocalypse Diet is.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 5:

Apocalypse Diet, food, eating, egg nog, starvation, supplies, diets

I was not sad to see the last of the egg nog. Creative Commons: jeffreymorgenthaler.com

If the Apocalypse, zombies or a highly contagious virus had wiped out a fair number of humanity and made the rest afraid, you can bet that there would be raids and mass buying of food in the stores. People might hunker down and hide from the zombies, but the fewer numbers of eating humanity would mean more food though less suppliers. If it were summer, I’d start planting or hightail it to a farm where there would be lots of fresh food.

The interesting thing that I’m noticing about my Apocalypse Diet, and presuming that in a world where supply lines were cut so fresh produce and meats would disappear first, is that I’m trying to extend my proteins and vegetables. This means I’m actually making more dishes with carbohydrates in them. On average I don’t eat pasta, bread, potatoes or rice more than a couple of times a week. I’ve made shepherd’s pie, pasta, and stir fry with rice noodles so far. Those starches fill one up and bulk up the meal.

Because of this my lunches, which usually are only meat and vegetables, now include the last night’s leftovers. So today’s meal was pasta made with canned tomatoes (already opened or I would save this till the other vegetables ran out), mushrooms, carrots, onions, garlic, weird Chinese leaf that I don’t know the name of, and shrimp.

For dinner I decided I needed to finish off the egg nog and realized I’ve been dosing it with rum because it is thick and so sweet. It turns out there was only a cup left so I swished out the container with water and thinned it down. It was fairly strong, rumwise, so I was rather relaxed. Normally I don’t drink more than two days a week so it’s interesting that the nog has upped my rum intake (or finishing off the other rather sweet fruit juice). I had about four crackers with cheese. Later on, when the nog wore off I was digging in the fridge and found a full zucchini, and some swiss chard. I had to cook up the chard as half of it was a runny green mess. And I had to throw out the feta, which was turning purple and yellow. Wasting food–bad. The chard went with a carrot, some chopped onion and a few cheese gratings.

I hate wasting food, especially with an apocalypse on, but I don’t want to make myself ill either. It’s imperative that I keep an eye on the greens and use them in order of shelf life. The zucchini wasn’t moldering but being a fairly soft vegetable I’ll have to use it in the next week. There are no more green beans or chard, but there are still enough veggies for a few more weeks.

ApocalypseDiet (AD) Day 6:

zombie, food, diets, apocalypse diet, eating, end of the world, food supplies

Zombies might be clamoring for food, but it isn't vegetables. Creative Commons: scrapetv.com

Pasta for lunch again today. Thankfully no more nog. Did I mention that I’ve had chocolates every day? Sob, my name is Colleen and I’m a chocaholic. But then, it’s the only way I get my caffeine since I don’t drink coffee or tea. I’m good for weeks to go yet but I only have a few a day.

Tonight I was working on writing and then went out dancing. In all of that I seem to have forgotten to eat, except for a few crackers. So of course when I got home at 3 am, with a friend who couldn’t catch her bus, we gnawed on crackers and cheese, finishing off one of the two cheeses I shouldn’t be eating anyway.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 7:

Being a Saturday, I tend to sleep in and eat less formal lunches. So it consisted of two chocolates (yes, still) and a handful of these Chinese coated peanuts. Some are sesame, some wasabi, some seaweed. A small handful is about 100 calories. I also have a jar of artichokes and although I should be saving the preserved foods for later I had one of these.

By evening I was actually hungry so I cooked up a sweet potato, celery, carrot, onion, zucchini and mushrooms. I made a curry sauce. Normally I have a jar and toss in a few spoonfuls but I only had powder and I’ve found that just too harsh on its own. So it was kind of a curry gravy; margarine, flower, garlic, curry powder, jalapeno, paprika and fennel. Turned out tasty enough, with leftovers of course. I put in the 4-6 oz. of frozen turkey still left form Christmas. The fridge is starting to empty.

For those just popping in, the apocalypse happened on January, 1, 2012, just in time for people to freak out about the Mayan calendar. Of course, since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I will not be going out for dinner often.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will call my experiment  ended.
  5. I believe I’ll be able to eat relatively healthy at least until March.

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The Apocalypse Diet

In recent weeks, there has been some focus on poverty and CBC Radio One has a special on today about it: We are the 10%. I have been there more than once and grew up in a lower middle class home, which meant I had clothes, a roof over my head and food, but there are many who don’t even have those essentials. Last week I posted a piece titled How I Almost Became a Prostitute where I talked about the terrible state of our welfare system. It degrades and humiliates; and the general public has this perception that only drug addicts, lazy and stupid people become welfare bums, when really, the system perpetuates the problem. In my article I talked about spending no money on my food and living off of what I had in the house.

It got me thinking. If the world ended tomorrow, the zombie virus took hold, the axis shifted, the bombs dropped or some other worldly apocalypse happened to cut supply lines, how long could I really survive on what I have in my home?

So, I’ve decided to start an experiment on January 1. I won’t say it’s a diet to lose weight but January is the month to tighten the belt, trim the fact, pay off the bills and think frugal. So what better way than trying to see how long can I survive on the food in my kitchen before I I have to resort to drinking alcohol and eating condiments?

If I really had no way of buying food, how long would I go before having to eat my fellow human, my cute and pudgy cat or hunt wild rutabagas? Because this is an experiment, I won’t stock up before the planned date. I’ll just go with whatever is in my place. My cat will not have to follow this regime (in case she decides to eat me). And should I go out, well, I won’t quite keep myself to this regimen in a restaurant, slavering all over my friends as they eat.  However, for lunch at work, I can only bring food from home. I’ll take supplements if I need to and record it, since I really don’t want to get scurvy.

Now, I’m predicting I’ll be fine for at least the first month. Then the veggies will run out and I’ll resort to the frozen foods. I have a fridge but no separate body-sized freezer packed with a full deer. I imagine I’ll start to get bored in the second month and by the third month I’ll be creative, and maybe crazy. But maybe I won’t last that long, because really, the apocalypse hasn’t happened and I can step outside without fear of zombies munching my toes.

I will post my results here as a diary, but I’ll probably do it on a weekly basis so as not to fill up the blog with short but inane food comments. 😉 Be prepared, the Mayan calendar ends in 2012. Perhaps I’m just foreshadowing the doom around the corner when the world ends. Stay tuned…if you can.

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