Thursday, July 31, 2008

Letter to the Editor

This is N's letter to the editor:

"I was reading the article on the study that went on in Atlanta to see which diet helped you to lose the most weight. I am a twelve-year-old currently recovering from anorexia and have learned that the best thing for your body can be summed up in two words: intuitive eating, or listening to your hunger. The best thing for your body is for you to listen to what your body is telling you. Are you hungry? Eat. Are you full? Stop. I'm not saying variety and healthy choices aren't a good thing and I'm not saying to go eat entirely junk food, but listening to your body is better than dieting. If your doctor has told you to go on a diet because you are too overweight then it might be okay to go easy on certain kinds of food. If your doctor hasn't, though, then I can promise you that you can go to ANY dietitician and he or she will tell you that intuitive eating is the best choice."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Update on Mental Parity

I've been anxiously watching the progress of the Mental Health Parity bills as they have passed through the house and senate. I've been pleased that they have passed so easily. Unfortunately, the bills were not written exactly the same, so a compromise has to be worked out. So they've thrown the compromise into the Jobs, Energy, Families and Disaster Relief Act of 2008 (S. 3335). And now, even though the majority of senators and representatives agree on passing this bill, it may not pass because of all the junk that has been thrown in with it. This new act spans charity, energy, tax, film industry, education, privacy, relief, and medical issues. It is chuck full of earmarks. Here are two of the low points:

7-Year Recovery Period for Certain Motorsports Racetrack Property.
The estimated cost of this proposal is $48 million over ten years.

Excise Tax Exemption for Wooden Practice Arrows Used by Children.
The estimated cost of the proposal is $2 million over ten years.

I'm so tired of earmarks! Especially when they jeopardize legitimate bills.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


We're just waiting now for N's official class schedule. Then, I'll have to go to the school and make all of the class switches myself and hope that the administrators okay our requests. He'll have 9 classes (5 one day, 4 the next). Hopefully we can even out that class load.

N ended up liking his new jeans. So, I've already purchased two more pairs. Too bad he'll just beat them up at scout camp next week - but he's growing so fast and doesn't fit into anything else. He needs some new school shirts. I've only got eight days (when he's around) to fit some shopping in.

Scout camp is just days away. We've approved the menu and only see one potential problem. We're also sending enough candy bars for all of the boys to have one each day. That will take care of a snack for N. He'll have money to get the other snack that is not already provided. His leaders are preparing a spreadsheet in order to track N's eating. I've still got to prepare an "anorexia basics" sheet for them to have as a reference.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Letter to the Editor Woes

N wrote a wonderful letter to the editor this past week. He was responding to an article on dieting. He submitted it and was so excited that they wanted to publish it. However, the newspaper wouldn't accept a partial name, even under these circumstances. So, they won't be publishing it. N was so sad and cried, but understood that we were trying to protect him for so much misunderstanding about anorexia.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


N had a physical last Thursday in preparation for his scout camp. We had N turn around when the nurse weighed and measured him. I was amazed that he has grown almost 2 inches in the last year (61.5 total inches). Our pediatrician walked right in and stated N's current weight - 105 lbs. Arrggh! N immediately began a long emotional tug of war with the anorexia. I had weighed N, the previous Sunday at 97 lbs. How could he possibly gain 8 pounds in four days? So, I reweighed N -- letting him watch (big mistake!) because I was sure it would show the doctor's scale to be off from ours. 107 lbs. What was I thinking by letting him watch? The next day I weighed him again: 106 lbs.

I'm still confused by such varied weights. He was 100, then 97, 104 and then 107. It's the 97 lbs that seems off. Maybe he was dehydrated that day or something. I'm glad, though, that his weight is up. I'll feel much better about letting him go for 5 days knowing that he is on the higher side. However, knowing his weight, led N to really struggle for many days. Next time, I'll have to remember to warn the doctor not to tell N his weight.

On Saturday, I took him to the store to buy new jeans and it was like a less emotional reprisal of earlier shopping trips. I did get him to bring some Old Navy boot-cut jeans home on a "trial" basis (they are a good compromise and not too tight). He wants his jeans to be skin tight - so that his thighs look thin. He found a pair at Target that were so tight. He said he liked them. Right now, though, there are groups of boys around here who wear super tight jeans. N calls them "emo." He tells me that these kids are very negative and engage in cutting and stuff like that. So, I asked him if he cared about people associating him with that kind of a group. He did care and put the jeans back. I'm so glad! My mind was already spinning with how to talk him out of the jeans. What a hard issue to deal with at the same time as dealing with his anorexia. I never want my kids to make choices because "it's what everyone else is doing." But I don't either want him to be erroneously associated with this group. I also don't want these "emo" kids to seek him out. He's so vulnerable right now. It's the last thing he needs. Sometimes you can send the wrong message about yourself by the way you dress. How do you address those concerns without making him even more self-conscious?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Junior High

N is getting ready to start junior high (in one month). I got a draft of his schedule this week and was concerned about two things. First, his beginning classes of each day are both "core" classes - history and science (they have an alternating day schedule). Second, his load is heavier for the first semester and much lighter for the second semester. My son says that he is not concerned about it, but I am. It was such a rough year last year. I'm worried about him being late to school all the time. I'm also worried about the stress of a particularly heavy load. I'm debating about how much to interfere. His counselor at the junior high has the attitude that everyone wants an exception to everything -- so she is skeptical of us (smiles a lot, says the right things, but doesn't actually do anything). We don't have a 504. I know we could force the issue if we did have one, but I'm trying to avoid having it on his permanent record.

After thinking about it for a couple of days, I decided to intervene with my son's junior high schedule. There are other accommodations that we've already made that are similarly invasive, and I decided that this was also worth doing something about. N doesn't know what junior high is like -- I'm not sure how he could make the best decision when he doesn't really have a clue. I've emailed his counselor. We'll see if she'll do anything for us. I hope so. I really don't want it to be a huge battle.

We already passed up a chance for our family to live in London for 6 months. The timing would have coincided with N's first semester in high school. We felt like it would be problematic in his adjusting into high school. It seems that stress and anxiety are huge factors with his anorexia. I'd like to keep things pretty even until he copes better -- and I had no idea where he'd be mentally in three years. It was so tough to pass up that opportunity.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Speaking in Church

N spoke to our congregation for about 5 minutes on Sunday. I wrote last week about our concern regarding his topic, "the body is sacred." We decided that it would be okay for him to speak regardless of the difficulty he might have with this topic. In the end he did really well. He wrote the talk himself and we reviewed it with him. He didn't seem nervous at all -- even though he said he was.

Our church has a health code based on a modern-day revelation called the "Word of Wisdom." You may have heard before, that members of our church have statistically longer life-spans than the general population. Anyway, this health code talks about not drinking alcohol, tea or coffee, as well as choosing whole grains and other whole foods. It also talks about the importance of taking care of your body and treating it like a temple. N talked about the Word of Wisdom briefly and also covered some additional topics as discussed by our prophet. His talk didn't in any way engage the anorexia. In fact, I thought it emphasized many good principles about loving our own bodies and treating them accordingly.

There were three other speakers during our Sacrament service. One discussed the food pyramid as it echoes many principles found in the Word of Wisdom. N said he listened carefully to this talk and was proud of himself for already knowing all the information. The most problematic speaker told a story that went on forever about a woman who was fat, who felt fat, and felt judged. My husband and I exchanged glances (which N saw and knew what they meant) concerning this talk. However, the story ended with the woman eventually being able to attend the temple and feeling beautiful there. She talked about realizing that God gave her a body and that for her to treat it badly or look down on herself meant she hadn't recognized the gift that her body was. She changed her whole attitude about her body at that point. We talked at length with N about this talk. Fortunately, he got the best part of the message from it. He said that God gave him his body and he needs to treat it better and not think badly about it.

If only it was as simple as deciding this. I know it isn't. Perhaps, though, this knowledge can serve as additional mental ammunition against the anorexia.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Weigh-In

Well, he's down to 96.7 lbs this morning. That could explain some of the increase in anorexic behaviors. N has done a better job of managing some of the eating choices that we've given him. However, I obviously need to monitor things a little better.

N leaves to go to scout camp in less than a month. I realize that regardless of everything I do, he may lose some weight while camping simply because of the increase in physical activity. I'm determined, though, to have him start the week with his weight solidly up to help offset any loss. I've got to get him headed back in the right direction now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


N went swimming with his friends from his advanced-placement class this afternoon. He insisted that he was NOT going to swim -- and then then typical anorexic, "I'm too fat" etc. So I sent him out the door and said, "why not wear your swimsuit as your shorts -- just in case you decide to swim, " and "you need some sunscreen -- just in case you decide to swim," and "take this towel -- just in case you decide to swim." Well, he did swim and had a great time. I don't think he was too self-conscious. I'm glad he had a good time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


We returned home on Saturday and I could tell that N's struggles continued. T brought N home mid-way through church on Sunday so he could eat. All of a sudden, N is very concerned about the other kids seeing him eat during church. In the past, I've taken a snack for him to eat during our Sacrament service. He specifically requested, though, that we find a different way. We've tried increasing what he eats right before church, but that has only worked somewhat. Sunday, he left early to collect cash donations (fast offerings) to help the poor. He was going to leave without even eating breakfast. I refused to let him go until he had eaten breakfast, which was a bit of a battle because it made him late (I'm actually happy that he cared about being late). He didn't have a chance to make it home before our services started - and he just met us there. I'm not sure what the solution is to this problem. But we'll probably have to continue bringing him home part way until we find a better solution.

On a different note, N has been asked to speak next Sunday in church. His topic: "The Body is Sacred." I'm not sure what to do with that. T and I discussed it last night and decided to have N go ahead and speak. We're going to have to be highly involved in the preparation of his talk. I don't think those who asked him to speak are aware of the anorexia. I think they would be horrified if they knew how difficult this could be. If at any point we feel that it is becoming a problem, I think we'll immediately ask to change his topic.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Independence Day

We went out of town for Independence Day. It was a fun weekend with my whole extended family. My parents have a fantastic blow-up water-slide and oodles of water-guns. So, my boys had a ball playing and having water-fights with their uncles. N was particularly self conscious because he was in a swimming suit. He has been particularly self deprecating about the photos his uncle took. Sometimes photographs are as bad as a mirror.

I made the mistake of not sending a "reminder" email to the relatives like I did at Christmas (or with the other side of the family a month ago). There were a couple of comments made that were real doozies. There was also an assumption made in one case, that because N's weight was back up, that he must be better. I did my best to explain the realities of the ongoing mental battle that N fights everyday. It's frustrating at times to have to continually debunk all the common misconceptions about anorexia.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Dip

I weighed N several days ago. He had lost 2 lbs and was 98.5 lbs. I guess he isn't ready for control over any of his eating yet.


I know that N will encounter erroneous information, bad attitudes, and generally things that make him want to diet his whole life. I think he is still developing the skills, though, to process and discard those societal influences that push him towards anorexia. We've seen two movies this month that have challenged those abilities. After each movie, we had a conversation to discuss the feelings & thoughts encountered in the movies.

Kung Fu Panda
At first I was worried about this film. We hadn't read a synopsis (our bad) and found ourselves glancing worriedly at each other as the film began. Jack Black is a panda with a self-esteem issues because of weight. There are several cracks directed his way throughout the movie about his weight. But in the end, it is because of his weight and who he is that the panda succeeds. I thought the overall message was a good one. N said it didn't give him any problems.

Again, I didn't read a synopsis of this movie. But then again, how could a movie about a little robot have anything to do with weight? Actually, one of the main themes in the movie was all about weight. When Wall-E finally encounters the humans on the main ship they are all very obese. The movie illustrates through a series of captain's pictures that the humans have become increasingly obese over the years. The movie tries to make a strong point that if we do nothing // are lazy // are stupid // that we will all become obese. Unfortunately, it didn't make clear that the opposite is not true (that someone who is obese isn't necessarily lazy or stupid). I'm afraid is just perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes. These themes did give N issues. He kept talking about all those "lazy slobs just laying around." We've had to have two or three conversations about what is "normal" eating. We've also talked a lot about choosing to be active, eat well, and be okay with the right shape for your body.

I'm not sure the conversation is over. I've also seen an upswing in anorexic behaviours in the past day. Lesson - don't ever assume a movie can't possibly address weight. And to those of you thinking of taking your kids with anorexia to see WALL-E, you probably want to preview it first. This is probably a movie to avoid.