© The Advocate-Messenger 1999
This sidebar and story appeared in the Advocate Messenger on 2/16/00
by KATHY CROWN-WEBER
Author to discuss eating disorders
Rebecca Ruggles Radcliffe, author of "Dance Naked in Your Living Room" and "Enlightened Eating," will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Centre College's Norton Center for the Arts. Radcliffe will address eating disorders, including anorexia and emotional eating, as well as techniques to handle stress and find joy. This talk is free and open to the public.
How to handle eating disorders
The fast-paced, pressured American lifestyle often leads to unhealthy eating habits. For many, overeating offers temporary comfort and respite from stress. For others, trying not to eat offers distraction and a sense of control. Both ends of the overeating/noneating spectrum are worrisome for author Rebecca Ruggles Radcliffe.
"Our culture creates both these (situations). Many men and women have disordered eating styles," notes Radcliffe, former vice president of Renfrew Center, a treatment facility for eating disorders and women's well-being in Philadelphia.
"They will use food as comfort or as control, and it may be a problem. Few will get into trouble with it. What we don't really understand about eating problems is why some men and women, usually women, get into trouble (with anorexia or bulimia) and some don't"
Radcliffe believes that people may have genetic differences that explain susceptibility.
Radcliffe is quick to point out that genetics may also explain that some people are naturally thin and not plagued with eating problems.
"We must not jump to conclusions and think that every person has an eating problem. We don't have a right to intrude."
Radcliffe prefers to direct her efforts toward prevention of eating disorders.
"I'd rather see a cultural change, a change in how we teach our children body hatred. We need to be careful what we say around children. We say, 'Do I need to lose five pounds?' Now we see first graders afraid to gain weight. Women have more body fat then men. We must teach our daughters that body fat is part of our body's ability to have babies. We instead teach our girls to abhor body fat."
Radcliffe's talk at Centre will focus on two aspects of the eating puzzle.
"I will talk about body image and body hatred, about being comfortable in our own bodies," explains Radcliffe. "There has been a lot in the press about ultra thin TV stars. We have gone way beyond Twiggy. Is this success? What does the regular-sized women do to find peace with that image? Women think, "How can I be successful if I can't even lose five pounds?' These images undermine our self-confidence."
The second focus of Radcliffe's presentation will be on emotional eating.
"Why, when I am stressed, do I order a pizza and can't stop until I eat the whole thing? Why do I start with a handful of potato chips and can't stop until I have eaten the whole bag. Why do I feel so out-of-control? Why does something so good and comforting have so much control over me?"
Radcliffe will offer practical, targeted strategies for dealing with emotional eating styles.
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[PUBLISHED FEB. 16, 2000]
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