Eating Disorders In Older Women
Are womens midlife eating disorders totally misunderstood?
When eating disorders hit the media it is usually stories of young girls and young women who fill the pages. Sadly eating disorders can hit at any age and more women are developing problems when entering their 40′s, 50′s and even 60′s now. I have often heard older female friends saying “when you get to 50 why be worried about your weight”. It simply isn’t that straight forward anymore. Women in later life are now expected to be vibrant and current and still look good.
Pressures to stay in trim
Of course there are other pressures too. Like unexpected break ups, finding out their husbands are leaving them for a younger women! The loss of a partner, the stability achieved over many years gone, having to relocate or find a job can tip emotions and beliefs upside down.
Life can radically change and this can cause women to use something they know and can control. Sometimes it is the only way for them to gain any form of stability – this is going back to something they may have done when younger -strict calorie counting and even re-visiting bulimia.
Is it a control issue ?
Many women will use the only thing they have control over or think they do. What and how they eat! For many newly divorced and lost women the comments made by friends on how good they look, younger, thinner, sexier may also become an added incentive to continue.
Eating Disorders and Shame
When older women realise they are suffering the same eating disorders as young girls they feel ashamed as if they should know better. After all with age should come wisdom. Or so we are taught but this is an emotional problem. No wonder midlife eating disorders are so often cloaked in secrecy. They are also often overlooked by Doctors in general practise who don’t believe older women could possibly have an eating disorder.
This is a worry as the health implications; bone loss and heart problems that can occur with eating disorders at any age can be worse in older women. Research also shows that women who lose considerable amounts of weight and gain the pounds back may have increased risk for heart attacks.
Eating Disorders no longer just a teenage issue
Many people, including the sufferers themselves, believe these are only teenage problems. But this simply isn’t so as studies are beginning to uncover.
Journal of Eating Disorders
A study published in 2012 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that around 13 percent of women over 50 revealed eating disorder symptoms. Compare this to the 12 percent of women who develop breast cancer . It is a problem we need to understand and help heal.
Birmingham Eating Disorders Help
Birmingham based eating disorders expert Debbie Williams see’s many clients for this issue. You can book a session with her at the West Midlands Clinic by calling 0121 241 0728 .
Or check out the self help ‘Lean for Life Programme here ‘
Cynthia Bulik, PhD, Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery.
Lying in Weight: The Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders by Trisha Gura