17 year old / Skinny B!tch / Complicated Relationship with Food / Nourishing Traditions as a Gift?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 11-30-2010, 05:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello, MDC Veg folks!  

 

I would use some advice/help.  

 

I have a sister who is 17 years old.  She is still in highschool and lives at home.  She's struggling with life a bit more than "average" and I'm worried about her.  

 

She read "Skinny B!tch" this summer and went vegan.  

 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on giving her NT, maybe some other book suggestions and just some general veg friendly book suggestions.  

 

Thanks!!  


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#2 of 22 Old 11-30-2010, 06:13 AM
 
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I would give her the book and present it as an interesting bunch of concepts to think about, and let her know that there are some vegetarian recipes in there as well or things she could modify to be veg.

 

Also, IDK why your relationship is more aunt/niece than sister/sister, but if possible, I encourage you to get closer to that kid! Spend more time with her or at least spend more time corresponding with her- she clearly needs someone like you who shares her interests to talk to.

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#3 of 22 Old 11-30-2010, 09:37 AM
 
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I would also consider giving her some reading that looks at cultural ideals of beauty and attitudes towards the body. Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth is a classic. Our Bodies, Ourselves is also a good one. I think it's so very important for girls and young women to develop a positive, loving, grateful relationship with their bodies, no matter what they look like, and that if they appreciate their bodies, they will nourish themselves well.

 

If you want something less controversial, what about some food reading like Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma or Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?


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#4 of 22 Old 11-30-2010, 10:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your suggestions.  


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#5 of 22 Old 12-01-2010, 07:40 AM
 
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I don't know, I might be more inclined to give her resources that support a healthier approach to the diet she has already chosen for herself. I haven't read Skinny Bitch, but I believe (despite the title) that it has a lot to do with the horrors of the modern meat industry and the way it mistreats animals etc, so maybe she was actually drawn to it for those reasons? Anyway, whether one believes or not that a veg diet is the healthiest on the planet, it certainly is possible to do it healthfully. Would you consider any resources to help her choose healthier veg meal plans? The books Becoming Vegetarian, or Becoming Vegan are both good for planning out a good veg diet, and they are objective, not praising the veg diet as the end all be all of diets, and addressing potential nutritional pitfalls and/or deficiencies.

 

Also, I think the Skinny Bitch series has recipe books with healthy recipes...lots of veg, and greens etc...which you say she's not getting enough of. If she loves the style of those books, it may help her to think more about it in terms of healthy recipes.

 

If you feel from your heart that you need to expose her to your TF principles, you could also consider Full Moon Feast, which also has the hippie dippie element ;-) while being a bit less heavy-handed than NT, and no off-putting recipes for tongue and whatever else is in NT. lol just an idea. I also think Animal, Vegetable, Miracle would be good for different reasons, and it's such a good read.

 

good luck!


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#6 of 22 Old 12-01-2010, 08:44 AM
 
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My gut says leave the treatment of eating disorders to her mental health professionals, and don't gum up the works with more conflicting information that's just going to add to the mess.

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#7 of 22 Old 12-01-2010, 05:57 PM
 
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OK my first thought is that I am vegan & incorporate many NT principles into my family's diet. I also think Animal Vegetable Miracle is an amazing book & it definitely changed my diet for the better.

 

My second thought is, if she has an eating disorder, giving her cookbooks & food-focused books just continues to put emphasis on an area that she's already obsessive about. It's kind of like giving a book about wine tasting to an alcoholic. If you can, I would consider giving her a non-food-oriented gift, or at least a book with a more whole-body approach to wellness where food is only a small component. The other thing I would worry about is that these books will give her even more restrictions. It's overwhelming to stand in the grocery store & say, Well I can't eat A because it's not vegan, I don't like B, I can't eat C because it's not organic, I can't eat D because it's not locally grown, etc.

 

I am saying this from the perspective of a former anorexic. I will also say that I did not become vegan for the typical animal rights/ethical reasons (though they do play some part in why I've remained vegan for so many years!) and that becoming vegan was integral to my recovery. That may sound counterintuitive & it may not be the case in your sister's situation but just something I wanted to throw out there, I actually think I'd still be dealing with my eating disorder had I not become vegan when I did.

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#8 of 22 Old 12-01-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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If I were given Nourishing Traditions as my first intro to TF eating I would have NEVER started to eat traditional/real foods! I still hate that book and I'm not a huge fan of Sally Fallon at all. I would suggest Nina Planck's "Real Food: What to Eat and Why" as a really good, commonsense (also - well researched!) intro to TF style foods. It doesn't have the scare tactics that Nourishing Traditions loves to rely on and it's not so pushy/judgmental. I hope your sister feels better!

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#9 of 22 Old 12-01-2010, 09:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post
... The other thing I would worry about is that these books will give her even more restrictions. . ...

This is a better way to put what I was trying to say. I would be worried that Nourishing Traditions would be more likely to pile more excuses not to eat on top of what she already has.

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#10 of 22 Old 12-02-2010, 07:16 AM
 
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The audiobook for Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is read by Barbara Kingsolver herself and is WONDERFUL. I've read the book, but I "re-listen" to the audiobook all the time because she just reads it so well. It's available on iTunes, so if she has a iPod she could download it that way.

 

Also, in terms of positive messages, Kris Carr's books are wonderful. They're not as "cancer-focused" as you might think from the titles, and she speaks frankly of how, pre-cancer diagnosis, her goal was to eat whatever would keep her thin (she was a model and actress).

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#11 of 22 Old 12-02-2010, 12:34 PM
 
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I would be highly offended at such a gift. The whole agenda of that book is to denigrate vegetarians. Get her a book like The China Study, or Eat to Live  - a book backed up by actual science.


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#12 of 22 Old 12-02-2010, 12:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post


My second thought is, if she has an eating disorder, giving her cookbooks & food-focused books just continues to put emphasis on an area that she's already obsessive about. It's kind of like giving a book about wine tasting to an alcoholic. If you can, I would consider giving her a non-food-oriented gift, or at least a book with a more whole-body approach to wellness where food is only a small component. The other thing I would worry about is that these books will give her even more restrictions. It's overwhelming to stand in the grocery store & say, Well I can't eat A because it's not vegan, I don't like B, I can't eat C because it's not organic, I can't eat D because it's not locally grown, etc.

 

 

I hope it's okay for me to pop into a discussion in an area of MDC I don't usually frequent.  I think the point above is really important.  I have a niece with an eating disorder and have dealt with many teenagers struggling with them.  I would suggest you give a gift that has nothing to do with food and supports the adult she is trying to become in a different way.
 

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#13 of 22 Old 12-03-2010, 04:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to pop on and let you all know that I'm listening!  I've had a busy couple of days and want to take the time to comment later today.  Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful responses.  ALL of your feelings, thoughts and opinions are very helpful.  I'll be back...


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#14 of 22 Old 12-04-2010, 01:44 PM
 
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Skinny Bitch sent me back into my eating disorder a few years ago... luckily I'm in "remission" again.  I have different fews on giving eating related books to EDed individuals.  It could be offensive in a way.  On the other hand, the book might be appreciated but cause your sister to be even more restrictive with eating.  This is only my opinion but I hated when people would try to help me.  I was able to get myself into a remission state because I chose focusing on eating healthy and restricting junk food instead of cutting calories and restricting food all together.  Not all ppl can do that though.

 

p.s. I have the same aunt/niece relationship with my sisters since we are 8-10 years apart.  We were totally raised different!

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#15 of 22 Old 12-04-2010, 01:56 PM
 
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Sounds like your parents are the ones who need books on healthy eating.  They're "feeding" her food and weight myths by what they say and do.  I'd stay away from gifting her anything having to do with food, weight, etc.  It just gives her one more food thing to obsess about.


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#16 of 22 Old 12-04-2010, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone. 


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#17 of 22 Old 12-05-2010, 06:53 AM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
 

For those of you who have struggled with eating disorders, I noticed that lots of you said that there was this obsession over food.  My sister has always been strange about food (she has never eaten fruit, for instance) but she doesn't seem obsessed in the way that some dieter type people are or even "health nuts" are.  If you feel like sharing about that part I'd love to hear about it.  

 

For those who became veg as teens I'd like to hear about that process too if you want to share.


Well it DOES seem like she may be obsessed with food if she's always reading diet books etc. When I was in the midst of my eating disorder, on the outside I just seemed normal (well, besides being too thin) and maybe a little depressed. I kept my obsession with food a secret. I read diet books & cookbooks. I secretly spent hours online, all night long, looking up food, how to lose weight, etc. I snuck into the downstairs freezer to eat little bits of cool whip or pulled family's pizza crusts out of the trash to eat in secret (gross, I know, and I don't readily admit that to anyone, just want you to get a bit of an idea of what goes on in secret).

 

As far as being veg, I never liked meat & when I had a little more food autonomy in my early teen years, I stopped eating it (around age 12). Had nothing to do with my ED really, that didn't become much of an issue until age 15-16... When I was in college I had one foot in/one foot out of the ED... not as bad as I was but nowhere near 'normal'... and then halfway through college I stumbled upon veganism and decided to take the plunge. For me it really helped me focus on eating healthy & controlling my food in a GOOD way, to make myself healthier not sicker... I will write more if you're interested but I'm about to leave for church so have to go right now!!


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#18 of 22 Old 12-05-2010, 08:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, you are right about reading diet books and I can see how that could be.  I guess I have a difficult time really grasping what are food ED issues and what are typical food obsessions from my sister's sub-culture, which I have a hard time relating to.  

 

I like hearing your stories and would love to hear more, especially about what recovery looks like when you're kind of half way there like you described.    


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#19 of 22 Old 12-05-2010, 09:09 AM
 
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OK well when I was 'halfway there' I was no longer dangerously underweight nor dangerously depressed. I was able to function in normal, day-to-day life with college/work/friends/etc. (as opposed to a few years earlier when I was in the hospital most of the time & completely non-functional outside the hospital as well). I lived on campus but got a doctor's note to avoid having the mandatory meal plan, the school cafeteria really stressed me out (not many healthy choices, food prep was out of my control, I was veg & there weren't many veg options, plus it was buffet-style which made it too easy to overdo it & eat too much... I was anorexic but I did purge occasionally & did overeat often which just kept me in that vicious cycle). So I shopped for my own foods, prepared my own meals (with just a minifridge & a microwave!), and would never eat in front of other people (sometimes I'd take a bite or two of salad & push food around on my plate to avoid arousing comments/suspicion). I hated grocery shopping but relished it at the same time. I had a ton of rules for food. Everything had to be whole-grain, vegetarian, soy-free, less than 5 grams of sugar, less than 1 gram of fat, etc... but there were certain arbitrary exceptions to those rules, and I primarily survived on Slimfast shakes and Powerbars (which make me gag just thinking about them now!!) At the time I ate a TON of dairy too (but not milk).. So a typical day would be 1/4 cup whole-grain low sugar cereal with water instead of milk, a Slimfast shake for lunch, a low-fat/low-sugar yogurt for snack, and EZ Mac with frozen broccoli for dinner. Then I might go to Friendly's with friends and eat a huge brownie sundae... Then I'd have to work out a ton & eat only Slimfast to compensate for the EZ Mac & sundae. It's hard to convey here just what that was like... I was also a cutter so if I couldn't work out (no time or too tired) and couldn't successfully purge it up, I'd cut myself as punishment. Sooooo sometime around my sophomore/junior year, when I was reading a veggie forum online, I read about how bad dairy was for you etc. and decided to cut it out & go vegan. That meant no Slimfast, no EZ Mac, & no brownie sundaes, so I was pretty much left with the good stuff -- whole grains, veggies, etc. I don't think I originally did it to be healthier (was just trying to control things more & restrict more, I guess) but what happened was I felt much more stable, my blood sugar balanced out, I didn't feel weighed down & gross after a meal, and I didn't feel the guilt of eating sundaes etc. As I felt healthier, I also started feeling really empowered because I was able to control my diet in a way that way healthy, not damaging. I liked having rules for myself, and I enjoyed creatively planning meals, and this was a much more positive way to channel those impulses. Maybe I would have 'recovered' on my own without going vegan anyway (this was also around the time where I got out of an abusive relationship and finally found a kind, caring BF who is now my husband & I think that really helped my self image & mood etc.!) but even now I feel like being vegan helps keep me from 'falling off the wagon' so to speak.

 

Anyway... now that I've shared half my life story & probably way more than you wanted to know... I have no idea if your sister's experience is/will be anything like mine. She could be following a different path & in a totally different place than I was. I don't think the ED experience is universal, everyone has their own reasons/methods/etc. and I had complicating issues including severe suicidal depression & later, on-going abuse... I hope this helps some though & definitely ask if you have more questions, I'm happy to provide any insight I can!!!


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#20 of 22 Old 12-05-2010, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for sharing such an emotional story, CM!  I really do appreciate it.  It is true that my sister's story is likely very different from yours but I'm sure there are some similarities too.  I also have a better appreciation of how and why someone may feel comforted by more rules regarding food, which I think may be a valuable think to have some basic understanding of for my sister's sake.  I'm impressed by your level of awareness of such a difficult time in your life - thanks again for sharing.  


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#21 of 22 Old 12-12-2010, 04:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcparker View Post

I would also consider giving her some reading that looks at cultural ideals of beauty and attitudes towards the body. Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth is a classic. Our Bodies, Ourselves is also a good one. I think it's so very important for girls and young women to develop a positive, loving, grateful relationship with their bodies, no matter what they look like, and that if they appreciate their bodies, they will nourish themselves well.

 

If you want something less controversial, what about some food reading like Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma or Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?

I second these suggestions. especially if she is searching.... they are great resources for nutrition, how people eat, why people eat. etc
 


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#22 of 22 Old 12-16-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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That is difficult. I was a skinny teen, but very short. I was accused of being anorexic a lot. I ate a lot though. I could out eat any boy.

I am sorry there are so many things going on. But, it sounds like you are reaching out as a sister. How cool is that?

I wanted to let you know The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone is not a diet book. It is referring to the actual type of diet she follows which is Vegan and Macrobiotic. It is an interesting read.

Is she gradually becoming Vegetarian and removing one thing at a time? Eggs are easy, but the bacon can be hard.

Could you give her a call, email, or facebook? Ask here if she has anything special on her wishlist for Christmas?

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