Monthly Archives: August 2015

Wowza! The Sugar-Coated Truth

Reading food labels can be a slippery slope for those affected by eating disorders.  Many sufferers will obsess over the details of the numbers and completely lose sight of the overall goal of establishing healthy and sustainable eating habits over time.   There was a time when  my anorexic daughter was banished from the kitchen and all labels were removed..   Thankfully, those days are behind us and labels are no longer verboten in our kitchen.

I recently watched the documentary ‘Fed Up’:  which is an indictment of the food industry and all the crap they are putting in our food–particularly the enormous quantities of processed sugar. This nearly constant overdose of processed sugars alters our metabolism;  leading to a variety of health impacts, including a truly frightening rise in Diabetes and obesity.

During a training session at work yesterday, I picked a bottle of fruit juice; the label advised that it contained a whopping 57 grams of sugar– roughly twice what I ‘should’ be consuming in a whole DAY.   Wowza!  I dropped the bottle like a hot potato and refilled my water bottle.

But let’s be real: I once had a knock-down, drag-out wrestling match with my oldest daughter over a chocolate bar (OK, maybe I exaggerated sightly – there was more tickling involved than anything else–but it was a really good chocolate bar); and my sweet tooth is firmly established as a ‘thing’ in our household.   While I am NOT going to make drastic changes in what I eat or the meals that I prepare (cooking seems too strong a word for what I do on a regular basis – I mostly assemble stuff);  I WILL be more aware, and am likely to make some lower-sugar choices.

What I REALLY would like is someone ELSE to shop and prepare tasty, healthy meals for me and my family.  All this reading is giving me a headache.

The Home Stretch!

Yesterday I received a text from my husband asking why there were 6 large cartons on our front stoop.  A quick call confirmed that these are the National Eating Disorder Association tote bags that we will be filling with goodies and giving away at the Madison NEDA Walk.  In addition to 6 cartons of tote bags, I am also struggling to stash away the many in-kind donations and prizes we have received.  My closets are bulging (a good problem to have).

I received the ‘tote text’ just as I was arriving at the home of one of the walk committee members for an in-person planning session with the whole team.  With everyone’s busy lives, we have struggled to meet in person, so it was great that almost all of us (5 out of 6) were able to be there in person; the room buzzed with the resultant energy (although the lightening storm outside may have also contributed).  This group has enough ideas and energy for 6 walks!

With the walk only a month away, we are now pulling out all the stops to promote the walk, align volunteers and finalize logistics.  The teamwork is great, and it is  gratifying to see the walker count and donations steadily creeping up and up.  It feels really good to be doing something tangible in the fight against eating disorders.   We are going to line the NEDA Walk route with  Eating Disorder related facts–which help keep us all focused on WHY we are doing this.  Here is a sampling:

  • In the US, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life.
  • 40-60% of ELEMENTARY school girls aged 6-12 are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.
  • Anorexia Nervosa has the highest premature mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.  (that’s the one that sends shivers up and down MY spine)
  • Eating Disorders affect over 30 million people, but only receive $28 million in government funding for research.  In contrast, Alzheimer’s affects 5.1 million people and receives $450 million.
  • The average American woman is 5’4″ tall and weighs 165 pounds.  The average Miss America winner is 5’7″ and weighs 121 pounds.   Fashion models are thinner than 98% of American women.
  • 95% of all dieters will regain their lost weight in 1-5 years.
  • Eating Disorders don’t discriminate.  They affect Whites, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians at similar rates.
  • The treatment costs of an eating disorder in the US ranges from $500 to $2,000 a day.
  • Dieting and body dissatisfaction are among the greatest risk factors for the development of an eating disorder.

Another local fact, is that there are very limited treatment options in our own community — most families need to go to Milwaukee or Minneapolis for treatment.  That is a real hardship for families as well as a barrier for treatment.

Even as I continue to promote the walk and get tangled up in the details of planning this event;  it is important to keep focused on WHY we walk.  It is our personal experiences with eating disorders that  motivate many of us.  In my case, I started walking for Guzzy, but I continue forward on behalf of everyone’s sons and daughters.   How can I not?


Another Trip Around the Sun

Monday is sort of a lousy day for a birthday because, well…. its Monday.    That’s why we celebrated my big day a bit early by going out to an amazing Italian restaurant for lunch yesterday, and spent the rest of the (hot) afternoon in a food coma, napping and lazing around the house.

I spent this evening doing one of my favorite things–playing tennis.  Unfortunately, our opponents were not feeling very generous (even though I TOLD them it was my birthday).   It was a close match; my partner and I had several opportunities to close it out after eking out the first set; but unfortunately, we lost a nail-biter. Playing indoors due to the threat of rain, it was incredibly hot with no air movement.  We had many long rallies, points and games, and towards the end of the match I was struggling– although the three  other players (all twenty-something singles player) on the court seemed to all be fresh as daisies.   Hey – I bet I could beat their mothers!

By this time, my kids have all checked in,and I have a ton of bday greetings  FB.  I took the obligatory bagels to work  and my loving hubby presented me with a certificate for a hot air balloon ride;  however, I am a bit concerned whether I will meet the stated ‘agility’ requirement for getting in and out of the balloon basket.  In addition to being very short, I have the approximate flexibility of a telephone pole. I may need a boost.

All in all– a very satisfactory birthday. Something not to be taken for granted.  I share a birthday with the husband of a friend of mine, who is spending this birthday in the hospital after a horrific head-on auto accident a couple weeks ago. His body was essentially shattered, and he continues to be in critical condition.  His wife keeps us posted with the ups and downs of his condition.  He faces a long and painful recovery.

This puts the loss of a mere tennis match (and my diminished aerobic capabilities) into needed perspective.   It is cliche, but still true, that we need to seize the day because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  Today, I celebrate one more successful trip around the sun.


Reunions past and present

We recently attended my extended family’s 2nd bi-annual (every two years) reunion;  we all stayed in a very large, sorta creepy, old, sprawling house –complete with secret passageways and a servant’s staircase leading to the kitchen.  There were about 20 of us at our ‘peak’ attendance, ranging in age from my 88 year old dad to my 2 year old grand-daughters.

Mostly, it was a lazy time together.  We were awakened each morning by the youthful enthusiasm of my young nephews as they ran up and down the long upstairs hallway; their attempts to muffle their joy to  let us old folks sleep were not the least successful.  My brother and his wife made us a huge breakfast each morning; it was quite a treat to find coffee, eggs, sausages and waffles upon a leisurely arrival in the kitchen.

“Grandpa” Dan and I had to share the grand-daughters with their aunts, uncles and cousins, all of whom were smitten by X1’s charm and by X2’s determination to NOT SMILE, despite everyone’s silliest attempts.  Eventually X2 would reward us with a beautiful shy smile, usually with grandpa kiss-tickling her neck.

Our last reunion, 2 year ago, was bittersweet due to my daughter, Guzzy’s,  anorexia and our mother’s advancing Alzheimers.  I carefully monitored and measured and administered Guzzy’s food for three meals and three snacks a day.  Food was the medicine she desperately needed and also desperately resisted.  Although my family did not really understand her disease, they surrounded her with love, and the event gave her some temporary respite from her ED fog.

My mother was angry and mad at us all; she really thought we had pulled a mean trick on her by bringing her to this strange place without telling her what was going on.   It was both tragic and comedic as she lashed out at Dan:  “This is the most terrible thing she’d ever heard”.  Poor Dan.  Poor mom.

That reunion gave us the opportunity to have a serious talk with dad, during which we all agreed it was time that mom live somewhere that was better equipped and staffed to deal with her severe dementia.  It was a sad, but loving, conversation.

Fast forward to earlier this week:   My mother is no longer with us–and while we miss her, we are glad she is now at peace.  Guzzy is healthy and ate just as many S’mores as her cousins, without batting an eye.

Life is good.

Christmas in August

Wisconsin is gorgeous in late summer and I love every hot sticky moment.  Others may gripe about the heat and humidity but I do all my weather-related complaining in the winter.  The landscape is overwhelmingly lush and green, and the cicada’s song permeates the evenings–a sound I have long associated with the good tired feeling that I remember experiencing as a youngster after spending the day riding my bike or swimming or playing ball in the streets.

This morning I got my bike out for the FIRST time this summer for a short ride to have coffee (and a hug) with a friend.  We sat outside and gabbed for two solid hours before somewhat reluctantly bidding each other adieu.

This afternoon,  Dan and I took the scenic route to visit Devil’s Lake near his home town of Baraboo. This involved a lunch stop, a spontaneous pier inspection,  a ferry ride, and a drive down nostalgia lane.  The lake was (as always) gorgeous, but extremely windy;  beach balls and other flotation devices scampered across the picnic area at regular intervals, usually with a youngster chasing after it.

We finally got to see Dan’s Christmas gift from me–which was a brick.   To explain: on 9/10/11 Dan and I were married at the shore of Devil’s Lake.  My brother officiated a brief ceremony with only immediate family in attendance.  We held hands, said nice things to each other, and made our union official.   For Christmas this year, I purchased a personalized brick to be  installed (with many other brick siblings) near the spot where we were married.   We had talked about doing that every time we saw the memorial bricks at the lake… so it seemed like a fitting gift.  We are now memorialized… in stone!

Love ya baby!